Safety, space and practicality. This family car has all boxes ticked.
The medium-sized SUV was first introduced in 2005 and shared the same platform as the Elantra sedan. Over the past 15 years it has been one of the Korean car makers most successful models.
It has also undergone a couple of name changes. The introduction of the second-generation model in 2010 saw the name changed to ix35 but it only lasted a few years with the third-generation model, launched in 2016, reverting back to Tucson.
The 2019 model is an upgraded version of the third-generation model. It is available in four different trim levels and offers the option of petrol or diesel powertrains matched to either manual or automatic transmissions that push power through the front or all-wheel-drive systems.
Direct Advice for Dads was provided with a mid-spec Elite AWD model with a diesel powertrain and automatic transmission. With a price tag of $43,150 plus on roads it is up against some pretty impressive competition. So how did it stack up?
Strap ‘em in
When it comes to fitting rear facing baby capsules in your car the biggest impact, in terms of space, is often for the front seat passenger and whether they will be able to sit in the front or be forced to sit in the rear seat next to the bub.
Unfortunately, more often than not the answer is the latter.
We have only found a handful of medium SUVS that I have been able to sit in the passenger seat in comfort. The Hyundai Tucson is one of these.
At 185cm I could sit in the front passenger seat, with a rear facing baby seat behind me, without having my knees pressed into the glovebox. This also meant it is one of the few models I have tested where I could drive the car, in comfort and safely, with the baby capsule set up on the drivers’ side.
The Tucson is fitted with two ISOFIX points on the outer rear seats and the top tether is on the back of the seat, making it easy to access. Getting the baby, or now in my case toddler, is made easy by the high ride height and roof-line of the Tucson.
This is the area where Hyundai has made the most changes to the 2019 model, giving it a more modern look – though some will say they still have not gone far enough.
For me, the introduction of a seven-inch touch screen, that they have moved higher on the dash, and the addition of some soft-touch materials throughout the cabin have given it a real lift.
It also gets a big tick from the practical side with a good array of storage spaces throughout. The leather seats are comfortable and, just as importantly, look hard-wearing.
The rear seat passengers get their own air conditioning vents, some storage in the back of the front seats and a power point to charge all those devices we deem so necessary today.
The cabin is well insulated from outside road and wind noise and, as I mentioned earlier, getting the children in and out of the car is nice and easy thanks to the high roof line, the extra ride height that is big attraction to this style of vehicle, and good-size rear doors.
The Tucson is far from being the class leader in this area – that honour belongs to the Toyota RAV4 – but at 488-litres I found there was plenty of room for our pusher, with enough room to squeeze the weekly shopping around it.
The Tucson does have a full-size spare under the boot floor – a decision that has probably also impact on space in this area. With the back seat folded down the cargo area expands to a very handy 1478-litres.
The only thing lacking in this area is the electric tail gate – something I think all families will find hard to give up once they have had one. You need to go to the top-of-the-range Highlander for this bit of kit.
The Elite is right at the top of the class when it comes to safety technology that will help to keep your family safe.
Included as part of the standard ‘SmartSense’ safety suite is automatic emergency braking with forward collision warning.
The system will bring the car to complete stop when travelling between eight and 80km/h and help slow down the vehicle when you are travelling quicker than 80km/h.
It also comes with blind spot monitoring, driver attention alert, rear cross traffic alert and active cruise control.
All of this technology provides you with a little extra protection, especially those times you have been distracted, which is more often that we would like to admit with little ones in the back.
It does not do a bad job either when it comes to entertainment with the touchscreen one of the easiest to use.
It also has sat nav, a reversing camera with rear parking sensors and is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. It also has a digital radio and eight-speaker premium audio system.
The wife’s take
I really liked the interior of this car, especially the touch screen which was a good size and very easy to use.
Sitting up high on the dash made it very easy to see and the touch screen was intuitive which meant you could easily navigate your way around.
Compared to some other medium sized SUVs we have driven lately, the Tucson had a modern feel and was comfortable to drive.
There was plenty of room and I did not need to adjust either the passenger or driver seat with a rear facing baby seat behind.
The boot was nice and big, though I was a little disappointed that the electric tailgate was only available in the top of the range model.
It was not exactly sporty to drive but it did respond to a good shove with the right foot and visibility to the front and rear was good.
“Compared to some other medium sized SUVs we have driven lately, the Tucson had a modern feel and was comfortable to drive.”
ANCAP Safety Rating: 5 Stars
The Tucson was last crash tested in December 2015, when the third-generation model was launched, with a score of 35.33 out of 37.
It scored maximum points in all but the frontal offset crash where it was awarded 14.53 out of 16.
It was the second crash test the Tucson underwent in just a few months after an earlier test in September 2015 identified structural issues with the driver footwell that limited it to a 4-star rating. Hyundai rectified the issue between tests.
The Tucson is a nice, responsive, and importantly, comfortable car to drive.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine is responsive but falls a little short of being sporty. The eight-speed automatic transmission works without you noticing it, which is a really good thing and the suspension, which has been tweaked for Australian conditions, does a good job of absorbing road imperfections despite being on the slightly stiff side.
My one complaint, and it is something I have noticed across the Hyundai range, is that the lane keep assist, which is designed to prevent you from drifting out of your lane, is too aggressive, to the point where you feel like you are constantly fighting the steering wheel.
I overcame the issue by turning it off but that also defeats the purpose of having the technology in the first place.
Fuel consumption was also pretty good with the Tucson drinking 7.8L/100km throughout the test period that involved all city driving.
The Tucson is a car that ticks all the important boxes – safety, space and practicality — for young families.
The safety package that comes standard in the mid-spec Elite we tested is as comprehensive as you will get in this class. While there are competitors that perform better, have more boot space and even look better than the Tucson I am not sure any match it as an overall package.
As I said earlier, my only gripe with this car was the over-intrusive lane assist technology. But in Hyundai’s defence my wife had no idea what I was talking about when I asked her if she had felt the steering constantly trying to push her into parts of the road you did not want to be.
Mazda CX-5 Touring diesel
Price: $41,590 RRP
Engine/Transmission: 2.2-litre (129kW/420Nm) with six-speed automatic transmission
As with all Mazda’s the driving dynamics of the CX-5 set the benchmark in this class. It is also a really good-looking vehicle and offers a comprehensive suite of a safety technology. The trade-off is you get a smaller boot and smaller cabin area.
Toyota RAV4 GXL diesel
Price: $45,125 RRP
Engine/Transmission: 2.2-litre (110kW/340Nm) with six-speed automatic transmission.
You cannot argue against Toyota reliability and resale which is why the brand is so popular. In this little comparison it stacks up in terms of safety technology, comfort and size but it is probably the least engaging to drive in the group and the most expensive.
Kia Sportage SLi diesel
Price: $42,190 RRP
Engine/Transmission: 2.0-litre (136kW/400Nm) with eight-speed automatic transmission
The Sportage and Hyundai share the same engine and transmission so will have very similar performance capabilities. Both also are tuned for Australian conditions, though they are tuned independently so will ride a little differently. The Tucson is slightly bigger inside but the Sportage is better looking and while it is slightly more expensive comes with a class-leading seven-year warranty.
• Price: $43,150 RRP
• Warranty: Five years unlimited kilometres
• Servicing: Hyundai offers a five-year “iCare” service plan averaging $409 per service.
• Fuel Consumption: 6.4L/100km (official) 7.8L/100km (during test)
• Engine: 2.0-litre turbo-diesel
• Power: 136kW/400Nm
• Transmission: 8-speed auto
• Visit HBF for a tailored insurance quote
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