Road Tested: 2016 Hyundai Tucson – a fuel efficient crossover

Road Tested: 2016 Hyundai Tucson – a fuel efficient crossover

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The 2016 Tucson has "edgier exterior design, better fuel efficiency, a roomier and more stylish interior" What I love is the auto-lift gate!

2016 Tucson

LOS ANGELES, December 26, 2015 – Hyundai set the mark for fuel-efficient crossover vehicle (CUV) with its sporty, handsome, high tech, above average overall performance and mostly comfortable five seat runabout.

In dealerships since July, we discovered this all-new Tucson definitely does the trick in LA’s Hollywood Hills when it comes to being one of the year’s best fuel-efficient rides for families and active folks who love to hit the road in high-tech comfort and high-powered style.

2016 Hyundai Tucson Beauty Shot by Sheryll Alexander

So what’s new for 2016? This third-generation Tucson has what Hyundai calls an edgier exterior design, better fuel efficiency, a roomier and more stylish interior as well as a “host of advanced safety features” available as a pricey option including lane departure warning, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist, backup warnings sensors and automatic emergency braking. (See about how Hyundai won the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick below.)

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This Tucson’s exterior has definitely been beefed up to evoke a refined, yet sporty look. In fact, the stunningly fierce grille and sophisticated side lines may be the pinnacle of near luxury CUV design. Certainly, the 2016 Tucson’s striking and chrome-laden exterior could be easily mistaken for a luxury CUV marquee.

The 2016 Tucson’s bodacious grille looks almost monstrous as it somehow melds perfectly with the hood’s bulbous shape, the cat-eye LED head lamps, low triangulated headlight “accents” and racy two-tiered lower bumper with black matte grille wedged in between.

2016 Hyundai Tucson Real Life Fierce Grill Shot by Sheryll Alexander

Highly sculpted side lines and curvy wheel arches with black-out accents give the exterior added sport-meets-sophisticated panache.

Our road test model was equipped with available 19-inch alloy wheels, which further provided ever more luxury in both the wheel sizes’ seeming aggressiveness and the wheel’s understated flower-spoke design.

The Tucson’s booty is not yet this CUV’s most flattering side as the alien-looking rear window does not marry well with the way-too-suburban-Mom horizontal hatch design.

2016 Hyundai Tucson Side Shot in LA Cottage Street by Sheryll Alexander

However luxurious the 2016 Tucson looks on the exterior does not translate as much to the inside. The Tucson is still a rugged CUV at heart inside with a highly minimalist look and feel. The cabin is certainly roomy and is ergonomically correct in its placement of tilt-and-telescoping steering column with loads of thumb-based controls, super comfortable ventilated and heated front seats.

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Adding to the vehicles drive are well-placed digital gauges, central infotainment and climate console, under dash mobile device charging center, perfectly-placed shift knob, two handy niches, two well-designed cup holders and a padded leather saddle-stitched right arm rest.

2016 Tucson
2016 Tucson

Overlooking the masculine minimalism, what could be better than this cozy CUV for driving a school kid around Hollywood’s many rolling hills and fast-paced boulevards?

Second row seating in our road test model was “plush and super comfortable,” so says this road test reviewer’s 12 yo daughter who has been testing cars since infancy. Cargo room has been slightly increased to 31.0 cu. ft. and it shows in the voluminous hatch.

Need help when it comes to cargo? This new Tucson comes equipped with a “smart power liftgate.” What does it mean? It means you don’t even have to hit the key fob to open the Tucson’s hatch. Just stand within a few feet or your Tuscon for a few seconds (with the key fob in your pocket or purse) and the hatch lifts automatically as if you have an invisible valet.

2016 Tucson
2016 Tucson

On a shopping trip with aforementioned child, I happily discovered the mysteriously-lifting magic hatch is awesome for not having to enlist aide from an impatient preteen. The flexible 60/40 rear seatbacks do not fold completely flat (although they do fold quite easily and effortlessly).

Cargo space with the second row seats folded all the way up is enough for 10-12 shopping bags full of groceries, so seat folding will probably be kept to truly big hauling jobs.

The one glaring omission from the 2016 Tucson’s design is its five-inch color LCD display. Sure, it’s got a touchscreen and a rear view camera, but this screen is just too small for such a big CUV and certainly for a 2016 model (base Tucson models do have Apple’s Siri Eyes Free integration available).

I’d opt for the bigger eight-inch touchscreen, which comes with any navigation-equipped 2016 Tucson. Besides getting voice-controlled navigation with accompanying maps, the Tucson’s navigation system has the ability to download in-car apps such as Yelp and Pandora.

Audio lovers will want to upgrade to the 405-watt AM/FM/SiriusXM premium audio system, which can be upgraded with SiriusXMTravel Link (for traffic, sports, weather, stocks, fuel prices and movies) and SiriusXM Tune Start (allows song replay from the beginning for presets only).

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Now here’s another great thing to know about the 2016 Hyundai Tucson: the tight turning radius and fuel efficiency makes it an easy-to-own-and-drive city, suburban and even country car.

Here in LA’s very urban Hollywood Hills West (between Hollywood proper and West Hollywood), I maneuver my many road test vehicles down all types of terrain – from the curvy cliffs of Mulholland Drive to the stop-and-go traffic of Sunset Boulevard to LA’s cramped side streets overgrown with swaying trees, genteel gardens and cute cottages.

All in just a few minutes.

2016 Hyundai Tucson Grill Close Up Shot by Sheryll Alexander

The 2016 Hyundai Tucson hit LA’s many different alleys, streets, boulevards and highways both in style and with a super tight turning radius for such a hefty CUV. Plus, my road test Tucson was equipped with a surprisingly peppy 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission.

While this new Tucson could use a bit more pep at acceleration, we enjoyed all other driving dynamics in this active-minded ride from the perfect steering and handling to the tight braking to the hard suspension. We also loved the EPA-rated fuel economy at 26 mpg combined (based on the 2.0-liter FWD model).

Other Tucson models can be equipped with a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine (Eco, Sport and Limited models only), which is coupled with Hyundai’s new “seven-speed EcoShift® dual-clutch transmission (DCT).” EPA fuel estimates on the turbocharged powertrain increase to 29 mpg combined. Sport and Limited FWD engine models, so says Hyundai, are rated at 27 mpg combined.

Those who need off road and inclement weather capabilities can opt for an AWD version. In fact, the 2016 Tucson AWD has partnered with Magna Powertrain to offer a “driver-selectable AWD lock” for different driving conditions. Hyundai’s AWD system also includes “active cornering control” as well as hill start assist and downhill brake control.

Hyundai predicted its AEB-equipped 2016 Tucson would win the coveted “Top Safety Pick” (TSP+) by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and it did. Why? Because this seemingly super safe Tucson model includes such advanced automagic features as pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist, backup warning sensors and rearview camera (standard in all Tucson models).

2016 Hyundai Tucson Real Life Central Console Shot by Sheryll AlexanderTo compete with GM’s OnStar, Hyundai offers Hyundai Blue Link in its 2016 Tucson models. Blue Link provides extra added safety, service and “telematics” for things such as remote start/stop, remote door locks, car finder, roadside assistance, remote climate control and stolen vehicle recovery. Hyundai boasts that most of these car-as-the-internet-of-things features can be controlled from the driver’s latest Android device including smartwatches.

Hyundai throws in one year of Blue Link’s “Connected Care” to sweeten the 2016 Tucson pot. Connected Care seems designed to rival OnStar with its “suite of safety and car care features providing Hyundai owners with free proactive services including automatic collision notification, SOS emergency assistance, enhanced roadside assistance, monthly vehicle health reporting and maintenance alerts.”

Ready to ride in style, comfort and somewhat high tech in a top-rated-for-safety near luxury CUV? The 2016 Hyundai Tucson delivers the CUV goods with its sexy hot exterior design, cozy high tech ergonomic cabin, large cargo bay with “automagic” hatch lift, fuel efficiency and fun-to-drive powertrains including an advanced safety AWD model with AEB.

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