What is it?
The Hyundai Tucson Elite sits slap bang in the middle of a five-model range.
There’s the Tucson Go, Active X, Elite, Special Edition, and Highlander, with three engines to choose from — a 2.0-litre diesel, 1.6-litre turbo petrol or 2.0-litre non-turbo petrol.
The petrol engines are essentially the same as those found in the Kona, but have been tweaked to suit the larger Tucson.
Some are all-wheel drive, others drive the front wheels — the 2.0-litre and 6-speed auto combo is available in front drive only.
Our test car was the Elite with the 2.0-litre non-turbo engine.
The engine generates 122kW of power and 205Nm of torque which kicks in at 4000rpm, slightly lower than the Kona’s 4500rpm.
It’s E10 and EURO 5 compliant, with fuel consumption rated at 7.9L/100km.
Drive it in the city and expect something around 11.0L/100km, or make your way out to country highways for a reasonable 6.1L/100km.
Our test drive, in a mainly urban environment for a real world review, resulted in 10.3L/100km overall.
Weights range from 1490kg to 1590kg, depending on model.
What’s it cost?
The list price for the Elite, before on-roads and government charges, is $37,850. Hyundai’s website however has this model at $42,020 driveaway.
Standard kit is extensive, with six airbags, a rear view camera and dusk-sensing headlights with “eyebrow” LED driving lights.
Hyundai’s SafetySense package, which includes Forward Collision Avoidance with Pedestrian and Cyclist detection, is standard.
Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Keep Assist are also fitted, along with Blind Spot Alert.
The rear camera pairs with an 8.0-inch touchscreen to provide guidance lines when reversing, and there are four sensors front and rear.
Metallic paint is a $595 option.
Wheels on the Elite are very good looking 18-inch alloys, and Kumho supplies the 225/55 rubber.
The outside has been given a mild makeover since the wagon’s initial release.
The headlights are a starting point, with the LED driving lights relocated to the bottom corners of the front apron.
That too has been redesigned, and the grille has a fresher look.
At the rear the tail gate has been smoothed, losing a horizontal line that gave the impression of an opening.
Inside the the test car was trimmed in a beige tone, instead of the usual black dash.
The centre stack is well balanced, with the touchscreen sitting above the central air vents, then the climate control system.
Hiding underneath is USB and AUX inputs, plus a pair of 12V sockets.
Rear seat passengers get a single USB input.
Front seats are powered, but neither heated nor vented.
Ergonomically there’s little to think about when looking for a switch or button. It’s stereotypically good looking and intuitive.
Front seat dimensions are on a par with the Kona.
It’s the longer body and wheelbase that add more rear legroom, and a bigger cargo area — with 488L to 1478L capacity with the seats up or down.
What’s it go like?
Surprisingly, the engine and transmission combo reveal a different personality to the same package in the lighter Kona.
There is plenty of verve, with a faster and harder response from the go pedal. There’s also less time waiting to see highway speeds, and roll-on acceleration is far better.
Engine noise also seems to have been reduced.
Hyundai’s Australian development team spent worthwhile time calibrating Tucson’s suspension, and it shows.
On road manners are superb. Tarmac surfaces are of no issue and the handling found only the barest hint of understeer (or nosing wide).
The steering rack is quick but perhaps the assistance needs to be dialed back.
Lane Keep Assist is also a touch intrusive, tugging harder than expected to centre the car.
We had an opportunity to do something most soft-road capable SUVs don’t do and that is to actually go soft-roading.
Again the suspension worked a treat. Gravel corrugations between 20km/h and 60km/h were noticeable, but didn’t turn the ride jiggly.
The rubber had plenty of grip, and the ABS dealt with the gravel and dust surfaces better than adequately.
This was evident in some of tighter, blind, corners where oncoming traffic appeared suddenly necessitating hard braking.
The chassis setup also allowed a bit of fun on the dusty roads.
It can be flicked sideways in areas with plenty of room, with the front momentarily sliding before gripping, and the rear sliding longer before the traction control quietly pulls everything back in.
What we like?
- Fun off-road drive
- Quietly modest good looks
- Punchier drivetrain
What we don’t like?
- Economy could be better; the 7- or 8-speed auto perhaps?
- Overly intrusive lane assistance
- Steering ratio and power assistance could use further refinement
The bottom line?
It’s an ideal family car and proved to be a capable soft-roader. Can’t help wonder how the 2.0-litre turbo engine available in the Hyundai and Kia family would go in this one?
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Hyundai Tucson Elite, priced from $42,020 driveaway