A midcycle freshening for 2019 didn’t go far enough to make the Tucson a stronger contender among the more competitive compact SUVs. It has a more modern interior and remains a fundamentally well-rounded compact SUV, but overall it trails the top vehicles in the class.
The best news is that the previous uplevel 1.6-liter turbo engine and clunky, trouble-prone dual-clutch transmission were replaced with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a six-speed automatic transmission. The SUV now takes off from a stop without hesitation, and the shifts are smooth. Still, the Tucson’s 22 mpg overall is lackluster, with many competitors getting 25 mpg or better. The base 2.0-liter engine is buzzy and saddled with poky acceleration and an underwhelming 24 mpg overall that’s matched by other, quicker competitors.
The Tucson is a responsive handler with controlled body lean through turns, giving drivers confidence that it will hold the road well. The ride is mostly comfortable and settled, but it can feel a bit stiff at times. Several competitors absorb bumps better. Road and wind noise are noticeable, as is the case with most small SUVs, but the Tucson’s larger 2.4-liter engine isn’t as boisterous as what’s under the hood in many rivals.
The Tucson is roomy for a compact SUV, with an open and airy cabin that makes for easy access. Most trims come with a power driver’s seat that has lumbar adjustment. That seat is comfortable initially but loses support on longer drives. The rear seat is roomy enough for adults, but the the low cushion forces passengers to bend their knees too much and is short on thigh support. The cargo area is generously-sized, but a cargo cover costs extra.
The interior puts function over form, with lots of hard plastic. We like that the high-mounted seven-inch infotainment touch screen and other controls are simple to use. Plus, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard.
Forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist are standard on all Tucsons. In addition, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic warning come standard on all but the base trim.