Hyundai Tucson review

This 2016 effort brings style and luxury to the mainstream compact crossover

Hyundai Tucson

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Hyundai leaves me very conflicted with its 2016 Tucson. I'm a big fan of the styling: it has an elegant but understated look that's humble. I'm absolutely in love with the Caribbean Blue color of the car I tested too.

However, for the $34,945 (£30,930 for the similarly equipped Tucson Premium SE 1.6 T-GDI Petrol 4WD DCT automatic or AU$43,490 for the Tucson Highlander 1.6 T-GDI petrol AWD) that Hyundai asks for the top-of-the-line Tucson Limited AWD with Ultimate Package, I expect more.

Hyundai Tucson

We liked

I like Hyundai's Display Audio infotainment system, even without Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. It's very intuitive to use, with a combination of touchscreen and physical buttons. Removing the CD player is a nice touch, as it promotes a clean dashboard without a random slot that most drivers never use.

The Pandora connectivity works well on Android and iOS, and I was surprised by the sound quality of Pandora via Bluetooth with my Nexus 6. For once, the sound quality matched the wired connection of iOS.

The Tucson's 1.6-liter, turbocharged four cylinder and dual-clutch transmission delivers impressive performance numbers that translate well into everyday driving. It has the right amount of power and low-end torque to keep you happy – and even lead-foot drivers like myself – and never feels under powered. If anything, the turbo motor leaves me wondering how much more power I could get out of it with some aftermarket goodies, but Hyundai probably frowns upon modifying its review samples.

Blue Link is well-executed on all Hyundai models, including the Tucson. Having the ability to control your car remotely with a smartphone app or smartwatch is a nice convenience, especially for those that are forgetful or OCD about making sure their car is locked. I, for one, know I am sometimes paranoid and wonder whether I forgot to lock my car, but sometimes too lazy to walk back outside to make sure.

The hands-free smart trunk is a useful convenience for those that hand-carry groceries, or have two kids to carry. I've yet to experience it failing, unlike the systems from competing makers, such as Volkswagen, that require silly karate leg-sweeping motions to trigger the trunk release. It doesn't get much easier than walking up to the trunk of your car and waiting for it to open.

We disliked

While Hyundai promises Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are coming soon, it's unacceptable to not at least have one ready at this time. The last time Hyundai promised Android Auto was coming to the Sonata, it took a year before the update was rolled out, and it still doesn't have CarPlay either – that's still promised for a later date. With Volkswagen, General Motors and Honda supporting both smartphone connectivity standards, Hyundai has no excuse for the delays.

The absence of adaptive cruise control is a puzzling choice, especially since it's found within the Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, all of which are older models that predate the Tucson. Lacking a pivotal tech feature from a company that's always delivered more tech features than its competitors is odd to me, especially since the car was designed to accommodate the feature already.

While I like the features Blue Link offers, I don't like the subscription costs. Alone, the $99-a-year Blue Link Remote Package wouldn't be too bad of a deal, since it provides control and access to the Tucson. But requiring the $99-a-year Connected Care Assurance Package before you can even think of the Remote Package tarnishes the offer. I'd love to have just the remote control features of Blue Link, but I couldn't care less for peace-of-mind services that are only useful in case of a collision.

Final verdict

Hyundai's latest Tucson is a stylish compact crossover with elegance inside and out. If it didn't sport the Hyundai badge, it would be easy to mistake the Tuscon for a luxury crossover that would fit in with Audi and Lexus's models. Beyond the tech inside, the powertrain delivers enough oomph to keep lead-foot drivers happy without sacrificing too much fuel economy.

Ultimately, if you don't care about adaptive cruise control, steering feel doesn't concern you and you are patient enough to wait for Android Auto and CarPlay, the Tucson is a solid compact crossover – just don't go running to the dealership over it.