Owner Review

2015 Hyundai Tucson Highlander (AWD) Review

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Purchased Oct 2015.
9,200 kms.

These are my impressions observations opinions and recommendations.

I researched the Tuscon from late 2014 early 2015 well before its release and had decided based on the bold style, price, features, drive train, warranty and servicing (intervals and cost) this at the time was the best offer in the segment.

Previous car was 2009 Rav4 V6 Sx6. My main beef with the Rav was the excessive cost to service out of warranty with Toyota (Year 5 and 6 cost me around $4000)! All the squeaks inside the cabin and the thirsty albeit refined engine. I’ve owned Toyotax2, Holdenx2, Honda and Mitsubishi.

I didn’t really cross shop too much. The only possible competitor was the CX5 but it’s a bit long in the tooth having launched in 2012 and just so common now was easily dismissed. I think the next gen CX5 will be formidable.


1. Athletic muscled stance and profile gives this a sporty and eye catching modern style. Great looking 19 inch wheels but watch out for gutter gash already kissed a couple of gutters.

2. Smooth, responsive, reasonably grunty 6 speed diesel. I love the werrrrrrr of the engine when at crawl

3. 8.0 inch touch screen is class leading. Aesthetically perfect the clarity is crystal clear there is zero sun glare very user friendly fast in every respect and perfect and stable pairing to smart phone navigation is great alerts you to all the speed, red light camera’s and school zones. Free map updates for 3 years. Best of all its size and size really does matter. Its simple display and intuitive pathways make it a breeze to navigate.

4. Interior space is amazing heaps of leg and head room and I am 6 4. Rear seats are deep and provide a sporty and snug fit as well as plenty of rear leg and head room.

5. Rear air vents although not much air seems to come out of them.

6. Front seats are firm but comfortable and can be adjusted to provide many options in comfort. Also the head rests are adjustable 4 ways.

7. LED bending headlights are fantastic they are super bright and look great.

8. LED interior lights are fantastic, super bright and gives a real premium feel to the cabin.

9. LED rear combination lights look great. The LED exterior mirror turn signals are very bright, clear and well designed.

10. Cabin on the whole is modern sharp and sporty. Very driver centric.
I like the brushed aluminium look which also hides the dust but sadly this is lacking. The gear stick has a great feel and is very sporty. The electric park brake works well and adapted easily. The chromatic rear vision mirror is also an excellent piece of technology and works a treat. Bit too much uniform blackness would be nice to be broken up a bit more.

11. All the active and passive safety features are great and work generally very well. The LCA function especially is amazing as the steering nudges you to keep in your lane if you ever so slightly move near the white line. This function will only work if there are 2 lines on either side of you. The RCTA is great as well and comes in handy when backing out of obscured drive ways or parking spaces.

12. Power tail gate is such a convenient feature and work perfectly most of the time. On occasion it has failed to recognize my fob and there is a lag before it finally opens. Other times it has opened unexpectedly very quickly whilst I was walking nearby the rear. Just something to be aware of.

13. Heated front seats are a marvel it’s like sitting on a hot water bottle, as the heat travels all the way up your back. I am enjoying the cold Melbourne winter mornings. Be careful not to be lulled off to sleep though driving home at night.

14. Ride, handling, suspension and sound deadening is a marvel. Cabin insulation is a revelation. Zero external wind noise and very little road noise. Virtually no interior noise at this stage. Just the odd murmur from the rear seats. It’s virtually a cone of silence on wheels. The Tuscon soaks up speed bumps and easily absorbs all road surfaces with minimal feel in the cabin.

15. Fuel economy is i think exceptional to what I am used to. My last car filled up every 7 days costing $50. I now fill up every 2 weeks costing $57. I get around 758kms per tank which returns between 8.7 and 9.2 L/100kms 80% urban. Some weeks I get 18 days out of a tank. Diesel engine was of course more expensive but I got more than 3K off the retail price plus a very generous trade on my Rav 21K.

16. Pick up on this car is good. It has a sports mode button which I have not needed to use. There is a slight turbo lag but the uptake is then fast and direct. I drive this car very conservatively I have not really had to plant my foot many times. More than happy with the power and torque.

17. The stereo is fantastic, the sound quality and fidelity is premium, clear, crisp and I could not be happier.

18. The 4.2 inch colour TFT screen is. Perfectly positioned and easy to navigate. Very driver centric. Lots of information literally at your finger tips.

19. Some material used in the cabin such as the roof are really of a high standard and although the A pillars are really thick they are upholstered in a premium fabric rather than plastic which was impressive. This plush fabric is used throughout the cabin.

20. The auto defog function is incredible. I had to wait for the first cold day in Melbourne to test this out this week. I was very sceptical. Hello it actually worked. As soon as fog appears on the front window the car detects it and immediately clears it. An icon appears on the climate control panel indicating this. It then resumes to the previous setting. Super well done.

21. I am still trying to figure out how the heated exterior mirrors work in this vehicle. There is no mention in the owner manual. If anyone has an insight please do tell.

22. The auto wipers work well but take some getting used to. Occasionally they go off for no reason so it’s advisable to set them to off when it’s not raining. They occasionally will not pick up a fine mist of rain either day or night. You can adjust their sensitivity so this is still a work in progress as it hardly every rains in Melbourne. The spray jets are the best I have ever seen in a car they are concealed and evenly spray a generous amount of water to clean entire windscreen. The pong however, of the additive that Hyundai use is very unpleasant. Such a small thing but its quite noticeable and has a sulphurish odor.

23. The panoramic sun roof is amazing and massive feature on this car but I enjoy it more on grey days and during winter it will really help to warm up the cabin. In Spring Summer as it is not thermal it was just way too hot. Although on a hot summer’s night I loved opening it all the way it was great under these conditions.

24. Free RACV membership for up to 10 years. That’s up to $800 saving on a standard membership when I switched over to Associate membership with RACV.

25. Power windows are super fast assisted with auto function.

26. Storage is pretty good. There is a perfect spot for your smart phone and easily takes my 6 inch Huawei. The cargo area is much smaller than my Rav but this is negligible for my needs. I did manage to fit a 10 foot Japanese maple I bought at Bunnings recently. Score !!!

27. Reversing camera is large and very clear but I still haven’t really got used to it to reverse park. Nevertheless a great innovation in vehicles.

The Minus’

These are mostly smoothing suggestions which I am sure Hyundai will be addressing in the series 2 version or next generation. Although in my eyes this car is fantastic for the most part however, there is always room for improvement. One minute all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed but 6 months later you are found wanting in some areas. Probably I am nit picking with some of these as well.

This is a hyper competitive segment and doesn’t take much for cutting edge technology to be matched and then overtaken in a blink of an LED indicator.

1. I purchased one of the first Tuscon’s in 2015. This received a 4 star Ancap which I was pretty dirty about. I’m over my disappointment, live, learn and move on.

2. The first day I got this car home, the reversing camera was freezing and had to be replaced as it was faulty. Think this was just bad luck.

3. This car is bristling with features in the top spec version and was at top in its segment for the price. Until the 2016 Sportage came along which has trumped this car in many areas. Also looking at the i40 premium tourer which is cheaper than the Tuscon highlander, you have to be bewildered at the features my car does not have. For 50K I would now expect these features listed below as seen in the current Sportage Platinum and i40 tourer premium.

Tuscon Highlander:

No adaptive high beam No radar cruise control No LED indicators in front or rear No LED fog lights. The halogen fog lights are redundant, they look out of place on this car and do little because they are over powered by the LED headlights. No smart park assist but there is a button waiting for this feature, hello put it in already. No wireless phone charge base. The high beam lights are dull and provide little support.

4. No driver fatigue detection.

5. No USB ports in the rear.

6. No Headlight washers. Headlights are massive this would be a useful feature. The overseas model has these so once again we get stooged.

7. No lockable glove box which my Rav 4 had. When I go to the gym for instance I like to lock my wallet in my glove box for security.

8. No digital radio. Although the radio is fantastic really should be DAB.

9. Some really harsh, cheap and scratchable plastics in the cabin. The plastics on the doors show every finger mark possible. On a side note, my dad’s 2002 Camry advantage has 100% soft touch plastic coverage throughout the cabin, it’s unbelievable!! The silver plastic used throughout the cabin looks pretty cheap and nasty. The door handles however have more of a brushed aluminium look which is nice.

10. Poor finish on the stitching on the back seats near the headrest. When I questioned this with dealer, they told me all the vehicles are the same. Which is false because I checked. Checked a new ix35 in the showroom and the stitching was perfect. Just poor quality control in Czech land.

11. Steering wheel is made of synthetic materials and feels cheap and plasticky. My Rav had genuine leather.

12. The panoramic sunroof is not thermal so it heats up the cabin really fast. Even on a 20 C deg day the cabin is hot and you need the A/C on. The blind provides no insulation just stops the glare. My A/C was working overtime last summer.

13. The Bluetooth connectivity when making calls is adequate but not great. Clarity and sound is average. My Rav was far superior in this regard.

14. The ventilated seats and cooled glove box are nothing more than a gimmick. I found them ineffective on hot days. Either do it right with stuff like this or not at all.

15. Limited colour choice. I wanted a pearlescent white and was surprised to see both whites offered were solid. I really loved the beige/tan interior offered but not willing to compromise on the black or the other darker exterior colour it was offered with.

16. The blind spot monitoring is good but always goes off when you are turning simultaneously with another car such as dual lane roundabouts and is distracting. The icon on the mirror needs to be brighter too because on sunny days you can’t see it clearly. I know this is driver assist and I should not depend on this solely but this is just an observation on where some tweaking could be helpful in the future.

17. Everywhere I read online and also in the owners manual it speaks of 3 driving modes. Normal, eco and sport. The diesel however according to Hyundai head office has no eco mode. Exhausted every avenue and this was the conclusion. Also the button for sports mode would be better positioned on the gear stick rather than on the console with 6 other buttons, hard to find without taking your eyes off the road.

18. No sensor on the sun visor mirrors you have to flick a switch which to me is redundant as my Rav 4 used sensors. We are talking top spec model here and my Rav was second tier.