2016 Hyundai Tucson Active X Review: Long-term report one

Rating: 8.0
$30,490 $32,990 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
  • Engine Power
  • CO2 Emissions
  • ANCAP Rating
The 2016 Hyundai Tucson Active X rolls into the CarAdvice Melbourne garage as our latest long-term test car...
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New to Hyundai and new to CarAdvice’s long-term garage, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson slides into the ultra-competitive mid-size SUV segment and will be with team Melbourne for the next six months.

Replacing the hugely popular – and a size smaller – ix35, the Hyundai Tucson is up against some pretty stiff competition: think Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail and Subaru Forester.

With a range starting at $27,990, our easily-spotted-in-a-car-park Tucson is a $32,990 Ara Blue (a $595 metallic paint option) Active X.

Sitting between the entry-level Active and mid-spec Elite, our two-wheel drive six-speed automatic Active X is $2500 dearer than its six-speed manual equivalent.

Powered by the same 121kW/203Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, the auto claims a fractionally higher average fuel consumption figure than the manual – 7.9 litres per 100km versus 7.8L/100km.

Growing from small-ish to medium SUV, the five-seat Tucson is 65mm longer, 30mm wider and 5mm taller, without roof rails, than the five-seat ix35 – a car still available in limited run-out numbers at some dealers, priced from $26,990 (plus on-road costs). Riding on a 30mm longer wheelbase, the Tucson also offers 488 litres of boot space, expandable to 1478L – up 23L and 42L respectively on the ix35.

Part of a four-tier, nine-model Tucson line-up, the Active X scored a solid eight out of 10 last year, with Matt suggesting it could indeed be the pick of the range.

Its standard equipment list includes 18-inch alloy wheels; automatic headlights; LED daytime running lights; fog lights; hill-start assist; downhill brake control; cruise control; rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera; two ISOFIX points; leather appointed seats; and roof rails.

There’s also a seven-inch multimedia touchscreen linked to a six-speaker stereo with USB/AUX inputs as well as Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming. Apple CarPlay doesn’t feature on our earlier-build car – so we can’t comment on it yet – but Hyundai Australia says it is included on all new Active and Active X models from this month.

Existing owners can get the technology ‘turned on’ though, via a no-cost update that can be performed at local dealers in less than 15 minutes – something we will be taking our long-term Tucson through in the coming weeks. The update also includes Google Now voice activation, however, Hyundai Australia says Android Auto will follow later this year, requiring a second update.

Sadly, the Active X misses out on the optional on-demand all-wheel-drive system and standard satellite navigation offered on higher-spec Elite and Highlander variants. It also misses out on the rain-sensing wipers, ‘smart’ hands-free power tailgate, rear privacy glass, dual-zone climate control, rear air vents and cooled glovebox included on Elite models.

Spending the most time with our Hyundai Tucson long-termer over the next six months will be CarAdvice CTO, Cam Smith.

A father of two – a six- and a nine-year-old – Cam considers himself ‘a car guy’ but one who focuses just as much on build quality and value for money as on sheer horsepower. He’s a self-confessed audio nut, and, as his role here at CarAdvice should hint, is more than a little interested in tech.

Here are Cam’s initial thoughts on the Tucson Active X, since buddying up with it after it rolled into the CarAdvice Melbourne garage last November.

Cam: There’s a lot to like about the new Tuscon. We make a lot of the rise of so-called challenger brands like Hyundai, but when you experience the build quality, ride and handling the company is able to cram into a $30k SUV, you understand why they’ve come so far.

The Hyundai’s angular interior styling might lack some of the quasi-European design cues found in rivals such as the Mazda CX-5, but the cabin is solidly put together.

The leather seats are comfortable, and the similarly-finished steering wheel feels good in your hands. Higher up on the dash the plastics harden up, but your first two touch points with the car make a good impression.

Overall, the interior suggests longevity, so I’ll be interested to see how it holds up to six months of general ‘testing’ and everyday abuse.

Although our test car sits nearer to the range’s entry point, its equipment levels already have me feeling a little unimpressed. Although navigation will accompany our upcoming software upgrade to Apple CarPlay – albeit eating up phone data allowances – the absence of a push-button start and blind-spot monitoring seems, to me, to be a bit of a surprise at this price.

My nine-year-old generally prefers to activate navigation route guidance every time we drive to the milk bar, so at her behest I must make a point of its current omission – heaven forbid, she might actually be forced to talk to me instead.

I do, however, reserve my biggest gripe for the hands-free Bluetooth telephony system. The sound – particularly for those on the other end – is simply woeful. Having been repeatedly asked whether I’m calling from a bathyscaphe in the Mariana Trench, I’ve at this point given up and reverted to using a headset connected directly to my smartphone.

I like the exterior design, though. The car is quickly recognisable and, to my eye at least, has far more contemporary lines than the now ubiquitous aforementioned Mazda.

There’s plenty of rear cabin space for my two kids, but seemingly without enlarging the somewhat Tardis-like exterior (it’s even almost the same colour).

The parking space I’m blessed with at my apartment is miniature at best, and yet I can fit the Tuscon without needing to climb out the sunroof. Which is lucky because there isn’t one.

The highlight of the car is definitely the ride. It’s firm and upright, but still forgiving enough to be comfortable over a range of different road conditions.

The majority of my driving is over pretty motley suburban roads, including cobblestoned lanes and speed humps around schools, and I’ve chucked it across some decent potholes down at the surf coast too. Impressively, it’s handled all of this comfortably, while retaining its direct and predictable handling. You can most definitely feel that a decent amount of effort has gone into tuning the ride for local conditions.

Where the driving experience has yet to impress me is in the Active X’s naturally aspirated powertrain.

You may have read Matt’s earlier review where he positively contrasts the Tuscon against its ix35 predecessor. I haven’t driven an ix35 so can’t offer the same perspective, but while I’ve found the mid-sizer quick off the mark, the engine has felt somewhat lacklustre at various times. And when fully loaded with a family on board, it certainly doesn’t love tackling hills or performing overtaking manoeuvres.

I’ve also been seeing average fuel consumption figures consistently adrift of the car’s sub-8.0 litres per 100km claim – nearer the 9.0-10L/100km bracket in normal urban driving situations.

Those few reservations aside, there’s no doubt the Hyundai Tucson has a lot of the goods to make it a worthy value-for-money contender in its highly competitive segment. I’m looking forward to spending more time with it over the coming months.

Note: As announced January 11, 2016, all Hyundai Tucson models built from November 17, 2015/December 16, 2015 (depending on variant) are now classified by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) as having a five-star safety rating thanks to a product redesign.

2016 Hyundai Tucson Active X
Date acquired: November 2015
Odometer reading: 4800km
Travel since previous update: N/A
Consumption since previous update: N/A

If you have any questions for us, or Cam, about our 2016 Hyundai Tucson Active X long-termer, let us know in the comments section below.

Click on the Photos tab for more 2016 Hyundai Tucson Active X images by Tom Fraser.