Rivalry in the compact sport utility vehicle market is stiff. Currently Honda's CR-V, Toyota's RAV4 and Ford's Escape reign in sales but Hyundai plans to do something about that with the subtly revised Tucson for 2019.
Big news is Hyundai replacing the previous turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four with a 2.4-liter, 181-horsepower four-cylinder engine that is mated to a six-speed shiftable automatic transmission in the Ultimate model.
Other powerplants offered are a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 2-liter, 164-horsepower four-banger. The 2- and 2.4-liter engines are mated to a six-speed shiftable automatic transmission. The turbo powerplant receives a seven-speed sequential (manual performing like an automatic) transmission. The leather-covered shifter is nicely placed at the front of the center console and is easy to see and reach.
When it comes to its exterior appearance, the two-row, five-passenger 2019 Tucson compact SUV looks similar to last year's model but there are differences. Headlights are smaller and the grille is larger to emphasize a stronger more aerodynamic look. In the cabin a seven- or eight-inch touchscreen sits atop the dashboard. Sound and climate controls are extremely easy to use. Standard equipment on all trim levels (SE, Value, SEL, Sport, Limited, Ultimate) includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus satellite radio. The upgrade Limited and Ultimate also have wireless smartphone charging.
Prices range from $23,200 for a front-wheel-drive SE to $31,550 for a FWD Ultimate, which was tested recently. An all-wheel-drive option costs an extra $1,400 across the lineup.
The Ultimate differs from its closest upgrade, the Limited, as the front leather seats are not only heated but ventilated. The seven-inch touchscreen becomes an eight incher, wipers sense rain and cruise control turns smart (detects traffic ahead and reacts automatically by maintaining a safe distance between vehicles). The Ultimate also gets an LCD multi-information display gauge cluster.
Sportiness does not describe the Tucson, but it does exhibit fuel economy, comfort and functionality. With the more powerful engine, the average fuel usage during the test week in combined city and highway driving was 24.9 miles per gallon. This is not particularly great but isn't bad either. Two adults were aboard most of the time. Driving was aggressive but not showy (fast accelerations, repeatedly 'goosing' it). Road and engine noises were minimal. The ride on rough roads was OK. The suspension does its job well. A neat comfort feature was the padding where elbows rest. Rear seats recline slightly. They also fold almost flat to expand the lighted and carpeted storage area.
The cargo area is smaller than competitors. Behind the upright rear seat, for example, cargo area measures 31 cubic feet. The CR-V, RAV4 and Escape are three to six cubic feet larger. When rear seats are flattened, competitors will have more cubic feet than Tucson in the expanded cargo area.
Instead of cargo capacity, Hyundai improved Tucson's front and rear leg room. Even so, the competition has comparable leg room, perhaps an inch less.
Besides the usual safety features of antilock brakes, seat belts, headrests, airbags, stability and traction controls, Hyundai takes the Tucson a step further. Standard across the lineup are a pre-collision warning system and lane-keeping assist. If straying out of lane at speeds of more than 40 miles per hour, a warning is issued.
The pre-collision system will sound a warning to the driver and automatically brake the vehicle to avoid a forward collision with a vehicle or pedestrian.
These two safety features are standard and Hyundai officials hope buyers will take note of this new and improved Tucson.
Another safety device is cabin sensors detecting a drowsy driver. A message in the form of a coffee cup icon pops onto the screen. The suggestion is that the driver is drowsy and could use a break from driving.
Tucson can use all it can get to make sales inroads on the sales leaders in this compact crossover/SUV market.
If the rear seat is flattened, the cargo area in the 2019 Hyundai Tucson
expands from 31 cubic feet to 61.9 cubic feet. .
Vehicle: Ultimate all-wheel-drive model of 2019 Hyundai Tucson
Type: four-door, five-occupant compact sport utility vehicle
Engine: 2.4-liter, 181-horsepower four-cylinder
Transmission: shiftable six-speed automatic
Towing: 2,000 pounds
Fuel tank: 16 gallons
Cargo: 31 cubic feet behind upright second row, 61.9 cubic feet second row folded flat
Leg room: 41.5 inches front, 38.2 inches rear
Wheelbase, length, width, height in inches: 105.1, 176.4, 72.8, 65
Weight: 3,732 pounds
Suspension: independent, struts, coil springs, gas shocks in front, multi-link, gas shocks in rear, stabilizer bars front and rear
Tires (225), alloy wheels: 18-inch
Turning curb-to-curb: 34.9 feet
Warranty: five years or 60,000 miles with roadside assistance, 10 years or 100,000 miles powertrain