2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate FWD

Hyundai Tucson Ultimate

In the midst of a mid-cycle refresh, the new Hyundai Tucson Ultimate FWD (front-wheel-drive) hits all the right notes with good looks, a great feature set and excellent utility. But there’s always room for improvement as well.

Hyundai Tucson Ultimate

Through the years the Hyundai Tucson has gone from being a smallish Crossover Utility Vehicle to a “son of Santa Fe,” essentially making it third in line to the throne currently held by the Hyundai Palisade. But it does have the standing and proper breeding necessary to help it achieve such lofty status.

What’s it all about?

Hyundai Tucson Ultimate

The new Tucson is the third-generation vehicle that is named for the city in Arizona. A four-door five-passenger crossover with a hatchback, it is sized in the middle of the pack for those who don’t have the need for a full-sized CUV, nor an SUV that is off-road capable. But let’s be truthful here: The large majority of those who purchase so-called “trail-rated” vehicles, rarely, if ever take their vehicles off road.

This time, the new Tucson is larger than previous versions.

Hyundai Tucson Ultimate

In fact, in our mind’s eye it is definitely as large as the old Santa Fe used to be. Middle-aged spread, perhaps? Perhaps, but we like the “matured” looks that the Tucson possesses.

The Looks Department.

The new Tucson doesn’t break any new ground in the styling department but improves on previous looks.

Hyundai Tucson Ultimate

Refreshed for the 2019 model year, it includes a new cascade-style grille, a reshaped hood and redesign of the tailgate and updated LED headlights. It is now available in base SE, Value, SEL, Sport, Limited and Ultimate trim levels. All are similar but as the level goes up, so too does the quality of the accoutrements.

Our Ultimate model includes almost every feature at no extra charge. Remember, you are paying for a trim level here. In the case of the safety features, ours included forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection.

Hyundai Tucson Ultimate

Lane Keeping Assist with Driver Attention Warning helps to keep track of driver’s eyes that want to wander off for a visit with the sandman. Blind spot detection and cross traffic alerts are both features that we can live with, especially in this day of multiple distractions that are all vying for our attentions

Sit a Spell.

Hyundai Tucson Ultimate

The seats in the new Tucson offered great support during long hauls. Back row legroom was more than adequate while near six-footers were in the front seats, and just in case you needed more space, you were able to take advantage of reclining second-row seats. Speaking of space, the Tucson offers 31.0 cubic feet behind the second row of seats. Fold them forward, and that space opens up to 61.9 cubic feet.

Hyundai Tucson Ultimate

The Tucson features a surprising array of class-above features that would cost thousands more if they were in a higher class of vehicle. Instead, Hyundai provides features that are otherwise over the top in this segment. Examples include heated and ventilated front seats, which during a hot summer in Florida is just what your backside ordered.

An extremely quiet interior allows people to use their “inside voices” when talking, even while at highway speeds. It’s like a vault, with one exception: When you decide that you need to lay down the power, the engine in the Tucson will let you know it’s going to work. But only for as long as it takes to get up to your desired speed.

Hyundai Tucson Ultimate

Once you achieve that, it’s time to turn on the premium Infinity Audio System with Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology. Included as part of the Tucson’s 315 watt audio system with eight speakers, it manages to restore the parts of music that typically go missing due to the digital recording process. The result is a fuller bit of music from your car’s speakers.

The Engine Werks.

Engine packages for the new Hyundai Tucson include the Nu 2.0 Gas Direct Injection 4-cylinder engine with continuously variable valve timing. This base engine produces 161 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. Our Ultimate model, since it is the ultimate (!), is powered by the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 181 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 175 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.

Both engines are supplied with Hyundai’s six-speed automatic transmission with overdrive lock up torque converter and Shiftronic manual shift mode. The ride is improved with MacPherson struts in front and a multilink rear suspension with pressurized shock absorbers. When all is said and done, this powertrain is capable of towing up to 2,000 pounds on the factory-installed trailer hitch. Hyundai’s all-wheel-drive system is an available option for those who may drive in inclement weather or just like the added benefit of gobs of extra grip.

Hyundai Tucson Ultimate

Behind the wheel.

The new Hyundai Tucson provided a satisfying stint from behind the wheel. Offering adequate pick-up from a standing start, we did feel disappointment when the transmission seems to hunt for the proper gear. Once it found its sweet spot, all was right with the world especially when we achieved cruising speed. It was here where we were able to sit back, cruise and really enjoy the ride.

At the end of the day, we found the Hyundai Tucson to be a capable crossover vehicle that managed to appear with a feature set that belies its low price. The most surprising part was the options list. It was virtually empty because all the features that would be available for an extra charge on other cars were included for the grand price of this one. Oh, well, they did charge extra for the price of the carpeted floor mats.

2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate FWD

Type:                                    Four-door with hatchback, five-passenger CUV

Engine:                                 2.4-liter CVVT four-cylinder engine

Injection:                             Gas Direct Injection

Horsepower:                      181 horsepower at 6,000 rpm

Torque:                               175 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm

Transmission:                    6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic

Drive:                                   Front or Available All-wheel-drive

Suspension Front:             MacPherson Strut with coil springs and gas pressurized shocks

Suspension Rear:              Multilink with gas pressurized shocks

Steering:                             Motor Driven Power rack and pinion steering

Cargo Capacity:                 31.0 cubic feet behind 2nd row. 61.9 cubic feet behind 1st row.

Curb Weight:                     3,492 pounds

Towing Capacity:              2,000 pounds

Fuel Economy:                  22 City / 28 Highway / 25 Average