ROAD TEST: Latest deal on Tucson has Style and value
STOCK-standard questions are regularly fired at motoring scribes.
Number one is "what's the best car you've driven?”
Also in the top three is the best SUV you can buy for about $30,000. It's come twice in the past week. Hyundai answers that one with the Tucson.
Updated last year, the Tucson came with all-round improvements led by changes to the dash design, an external nip and tuck as well as upgrades to the ride and handling.
Some are still wary of Hyundai. They needn't be - the brand has turned full circle over more than a decade, coming up trumps in reliability surveys and backing the product with a solid warranty.
While not challenging the Europeans on driving dynamics, its longevity and a strong dealership spread are among the advantages.
With the industry facing some sales hurdles, Hyundai sharpened its pencil on the automatic Tucson Style to $30,990 drive-away, which is based on the Go variant ($1000 cheaper) but includes more than $3000 in accessories.
This is a cracking deal. Amping up the proposition are black alloy wheels, nudge bar and side steps, combined with normal standard features found on the Go model such as a seven-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, auto lights and, a rare inclusion nowadays, a full-size spare.
Another boon is Auto Link, which is an app that can be downloaded to your smartphone. No matter where you are, it enables the owner to see tyre pressure figures, fuel consumption and refuelling history, various trip details and battery status, and offers the ability to log business or private trips and even book a service. Buyers can also get four cents a litre off at Caltex using the app.
Warranty coverage is on par with most competitors at five years, unlimited kilometres (only Kia, SsangYong and MG offer seven years), with roadside assist for the same period.
Capped-price servicing is available, as are pre-paid plans. Servicing is required annually or every 15,000km, with plans available for three years ($840), four years ($1250) or five years ($1530).
While the Tucson has a five-star rating, it's carried over from 2015. This Go model wouldn't gain that rating now due to the absence of autonomous emergency braking - a functionality that applies the brakes if a frontal collision is detected.
Buyers can add the functionality as part of the SmartSense pack for $2200 and it's definitely worth the investment. Not only does it include AEB, but also blind-spot warning, automatic high beam, lane-keep assist, rear cross traffic warning and radar cruise control.
A rear view camera and six airbags are standard gear, with the main annoying omission being rear parking sensors.
Straddling the medium and small SUV genres, the Tucson offers accommodating real estate for a family of four.
Cloth-trimmed seats are hard-wearing with reasonable support at the base and laterally, while there is liberal use of plastics throughout the console and on the doors. Up-spec models have some improvements, but the Go model is the entry-level offering and it shows in some areas with some vacant buttons across the cabin.
There are dual cup holders in the console, along with bottle holders in the doors, and a useful storage area for phones in front of the shifter.
Boot space is reasonable at 488 litres - that's bigger than a Mazda CX-5 but not as generous as the soon-to-be-replaced Toyota RAV4 or Holden Equiniox - with an ability to drop the seats in a 60-40 format.
Honest and reliable, the four-cylinder petrol engine won't win any drag races, yet neither will it have the driver pulling the whip.
Apply liberal pressure to the right pedal and the four-potter can sound noisy as it works hard up through the rev range, especially on hilly terrain.
On some steep inclines the six-speed automatic struggled to find the right cog, although in traffic and on the highway the shifts were timely and well calibrated.
Across most conditions the Tucson performs solidly with little fanfare or issue.
On 17-inch wheels and rubber, the ride is impressively quiet and compliant. It soaks up bumps and lumps with ease, which can be attributed to suspension changes introduced last year with the updated model.
Average fuel consumption over 460km was 7.8 litres/100km, which is near identical to the official figure from Hyundai. On the highway it managed about six litres.
The new dash brings the Tucson up to speed with rivals and matches the modern exterior with nice lines that look good from all angles.
This latest deal really does become hard to resist. The alloys, nudge bar and side steps make it look tougher and more expensive than the price indicates.
MAZDA CX-5 MAX $33,490 D/A
It is the segment's biggest seller for a reason, with good looks (apart from the five-spoke wheels on this model) and strong specification. Impressive driving dynamics and powered by a 115kW/200Nm 2.0-litre 4-cyl with strong safety kit as standard.
MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER ES $30,990 D/A
Current deal comes with seven seats and a seven-year, 150,000km warranty plus two years of free servicing along with $1000 worth of accessories. Serviceable on the road with a 124kW/220Nm 2.4-litre 4-cyl, but overall feels a little behind the rivals.
AT A GLANCE
HYUNDAI TUCSON GO
PRICE $27,990 (top value)
WARRANTY/SERVICING 5-yrs/u'ltd km, $840- $1250 for 3 years (good)
ENGINE 2.0L 122kW/205Nm 4-cyl, 6sp auto, FWD (OK)
SAFETY 6 airbags, 5 stars, rear camera (OK), AEB, lane keeping, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert optional extra
THIRST 7.9L/ 100km (good)
SPARE Full-size (excellent)
CARGO 488L (good)