The Tucson is Hyundai’s small SUV and its number one-selling vehicle in America and around the world. But when it came time to reimagine it for a new generation, Hyundai didn’t play it safe. The new crossover gets a beyond-edgy exterior design that’ll make it stand out among an increasingly bland bunch of competitors in what had been becoming an increasingly bland segment. Get ready for “Parametric Dynamic Exterior Design!” Wake up, America, there’s a new Tucson in town.
“Finally, we’re bringing something fresh into the crowded SUV segment,” said Sang Yup Lee, Hyundai’s confident head of global design. “We intend to elevate the emotional response of our designs. This is the most dynamic SUV we’ve ever dared to make, something to challenge conventions, something iconic.”
It starts, like airflow, at the front, with a unique spiderweb grille that hides – voila! – the headlights in its many facets. This will be one of those features that’ll have new owners gathering the neighbors to witness: “Now hang on, who here can tell me where the headlights are? No one? No one? Grabowski? O’Malley? Mr. Kim? Well, check this out! Hey! They’re right there in the grille!” (This will make you very popular on your block for about ten minutes, until someone shows up with a new Bronco or something.)
The Tucson represents not only Hyundai’s vision for progressive design, but for eco-focused powertrains and advanced technologies, the company said during a worldwide debut last night. This is the fourth generation of the Tucson, which will be available globally in two wheelbases to cater to various global markets.
We in the U.S. will get the long-wheelbase model, of course, because we like everything big. And it will be big, at least for the class and compared to the previous model. Inside, it offers 22 cubic feet of interior volume, almost four cubic feet more than the last generation. The outside gets bigger, too: 182.3 inches long (a full six inches longer than before), 108.5 inches of which is wheelbase; and it’s three inches taller and more than a half inch wider, too.
That interior – or INTERSPACE in Hyundai’s all-caps speech – will be packed with the usual phalanx of technology – and a Bose sound system – all fed to the occupants through a couple of nicely flattened screens that are bold and elegant without being intrusive. You could probably live with these for several years and still enjoy looking at them. Maybe those neighbors will enjoy looking at them, too.
“The interior offers three new technologies, including a vertically stacked, dual 10.25-inch full-touch screen exempt of hard buttons, a multi-air ventilation system and an open, hoodless digital gauge cluster,” Hyundai said. “These features create a high-tech, fresh and exciting ambience, with cushioned materials on high-touch areas, various material applications based on the frequency of interface and a premium presence.”
You get that 10.25-inch main screen on top trim levels. It controls NAV, HVAC and infotainment via touch or voice control. You can connect two phones simultaneously on the new Tucson and switch seamlessly between the playlists of either one. As you approach your house you can even get the system to turn on the a/c inside before you get there, Hyundai says.
The vents inside the cabin are also hidden, and the a/c automatically and continuously sucks moisture from the air so the system doesn’t start to smell all moldy after a while.
Underhood, Hyundai will offer both hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrain options. Base engine in the U.S. is a 190-hp, 182 lb ft 2.5-liter GDI gasoline four. Hybrid models start with the 180-hp 1.6-liter turbo which will combine with an as-yet-unspecified battery and electric motor for a combined output of 230 hp and 195 lb ft of torque. No word yet on how many kWh the PHEV will offer when the Tucsons hit our shores.
Globally, Hyundai will offer 12 engine options, six gasoline, four diesel, one hybrid and one PHEV. We won’t get 12 engine options. There won’t be a BEV or battery electric version, at least not under the Hyundai name, since that task will be carried by Hyundai’s Ioniq sub brand. At least that’s what it sounded like from the press conference.
Keeping the Tucson hybrid models in line around corners is Hyundai’s E-Handling technology, which improves steering response and directional stability. AWD models come with HTRAC that now has seven modes: Eco, Comfort, Smart, and Sport now augmented with the new Mud, Sand and Snow.
Beyond that is the usual battery of electronic helpers, such as the ten standard SmartSense safety features, including Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, and Blind Spot Collision Warning. And four more systems are available as options. Suffice to say if you hit anything it’ll pretty much be your fault.
Those looking for a little more performance in their compact crossovers might want to wait a little while for the Tucson’s N Line model, “the entry point to its high-performance N brand,” Hyundai said. The current Tucson has an N Line in Europe, so expect the N Line to come here soon.
Altogether, don’t dismiss the compact crossover segment as boring anymore, at least not after the new Tucson arrives in the first half of 2021 as a 2022 model.