Tuesday, July 21, 2015

2016 Hyundai Tucson: Just What Hyundai's Sales Doctor Ordered

We’re just over halfway through the calendar year, and at Kelley Blue Book we’re tracking new vehicle sales up 4.4 percent through June. That’s good news for most automakers, though some are struggling to keep pace with the market’s growth. Hyundai, with sales up just 1.8 percent this year, is one of those brands. The automaker recently introduced its all-new midsize sedan (Sonata), and it continues to offer a desirable compact car (Elantra) and full-size car (Azera), along with its high value luxury cars (Genesis and Equus). The problem? The market doesn’t care about cars. It wants SUVs-SUVs-SUVs! And while Hyundai’s midsize Santa Fe crossover is up 5.3 percent this year, its compact Tucson is down 7 percent. That’s bad news given the compact SUV segment is one of the fastest growing, up 12.6 percent from January to June. In a perfect world Hyundai’s would launch an all-new 2016 Tucson to cash in on America’s insatiable SUV appetite. Oh wait, it just did…

Hitting showrooms this month, the redesigned 2016 Hyundai Tucson features a revised exterior, updated interior and all-new drivetrain. Hyundai’s consumer research showed compact SUV buyers thought of the existing Tucson as a more sporty, stylish and modern compact SUV compared to others in the segment, and the automaker wanted to enhance those characteristics for the 2016 model. This is reflected in the new Tucson’s wedge-shaped exterior with alloy wheels, tinted windows and a standard 5-inch touchscreen display with rearview camera. Options, including LED headlights, 19-inch wheels and a panoramic sunroof, extend the stylish and upscale nature of the new Tucson, as does its selection of standard and optional features that offer a lot of value for the money.

First impression upon entering the 2016 Hyundai Tucson is that it feels larger inside than it looks from the outside. Leg, head and shoulder room are abundant, confirming the Tucson’s status as the widest of the compact SUVs while sporting the longest wheelbase in the segment. The front seats offer a near-perfect blend of comfort and lateral support while primary controls for the audio and climate systems are straightforward and easy to use. Once underway you’ll be impressed by the Tucson’s quiet and refined ride quality, something Hyundai representatives told us was a specific focus for the new crossover. At highway speeds there is essentially zero engine or road noise in the cabin, leaving only hushed wind noise at a level you’ll barely notice.

The frame of the new Tucson consists of 51 percent high-strength steel, up from 18 percent in the previous model and held together with stronger adhesives versus the welds on the previous model. A revised McPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension combines with thicker wheelhouse panels, a sleeker exterior shape (.35 coefficient of drag reduced to .33) and strengthened roof pillars to reduce noise and help manage crash energy. The 2016 Tucson comes in one of three interior color schemes and eight exterior shades, with trim levels ranging from a base SE model to the mid-grade Eco and Sport models as well as the high-end Limited version. It also comes with a choice of two powertrains and standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive.

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