Hyundai upgrades compact Tucson Limited crossover for 2016

The new 2016 Hyundai Tucson Limited is a vast improvement over the last model, with improved looks and a larger interior.

WASHINGTON — The Hyundai Tucson has always been a bargain buy in the compact crossover market. It wasn’t as large as the sales leaders, so a lower price and a lot of features is what usually got them out the door.

So for the 2016 redesign, Hyundai redid the entire vehicle to make it more competitive in a very popular and growing segment. The Tucson starts around $23,000, or buyers can go fully loaded with AWD and spend $35,000, which is where the prices for compact crossovers live these days.

The 2016 Tucson is larger than the previous model but is still a smaller crossover. It’s now closer in size to the heavy hitters in the segment, making it more competitive than it was before.

This year’s redesign brought the vehicle’s looks forward. Also, it’s a more mature look, a bit more upscale than before and more along the lines of Hyundai’s current cars.

The Limited model I tested sets itself apart with large 19-inch wheels, pretty unusual in this class. The Caribbean blue of my test vehicle is a nice color on this ride, and helps it stand out. The front end has that bigger grill that seems to be so popular with most automakers right now. The side of the car has some creases and bulges to make it more interesting than before.

Inside is where you’ll notice the larger size of this new Tucson, mostly when compared to the old model. The heated front leather seats have good comfort, but the back seat has seen an increase in space for those with longer legs, and the head space also seems better. There even appears to be more space in the cargo area.

The rest of the materials were a step up from before and more in line with the competition. The cockpit area looks more interesting, with different shapes and textures throughout. There is an 8-inch touch screen NAV system, and the premium audio systems are easy to work and sound OK. The dual climate controls are at easy reach and help to set comfortable temps for both front seat riders. A nice feature is the rear hatch, which will open when you have the key on you and stand behind the door — a bonus when both hands are full.

Choosing the Limited, you get a smaller yet more powerful engine than the base model. The smaller 1.6L four-cylinder engine is turbocharged and good for 175hp. It’s not earth shattering power, but it still moves the Tucson pretty well. The turbo engine does reasonably well with fuel economy with 26 mpg in mixed driving, which is right on with what the sticker says.

Another new item is the transmission, a 7-speed dual clutch unit, which is pretty high-tech. It feels different compared to other automatics. You’ll notice it when starting from a stop sometimes; it feels like a manual would feel when dragging the clutch a bit. It did provide quick shifts when needed and was smooth the rest of the time, but it’s a little different from a regular transmission.

The ride is pretty good even with those big wheels. It is a quieter highway cruiser than before. While it isn’t the most sporty compact crossover, it did a good job with most corners and its smaller size helps maneuver easily in the city and when parking in tighter spaces.

The new 2016 Hyundai Tucson Limited is a vast improvement over the last model, with improved looks and a larger interior to help it compete in a growing market. The price is a little higher than before, but buyers will still get a good value for their money, and the long 10-year powertrain warranty doesn’t hurt either.

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