2018 Hyundai Tucson Driving Impressions

Despite being smaller than some rivals, the Tucson’s suspension and tires yield a well-damped, controlled ride. Only with 19-inch wheels does the ride turn firm. Still, some jarring can occur, at least for an instant, when crossing expansion joints or tackling harsh pavement.

Sportiness is minimal, as the Tucson focuses on predictable handling. That’s typical in the small-crossover category, as is largely lifeless electric power steering.

Not only is the SE’s base engine short on power, it’s not more frugal with fuel than the more satisfying turbo four used in the other models.

Smooth-running and more than sufficiently powered for typical usage, even the turbo can feel limited when filled with people and luggage. Shifts from the turbo’s dual-clutch automatic transmission occur smoothly, without notable delay. Even in Sport mode, though, takeoffs can feel somewhat sluggish. When starting off, the non-turbo engine actually feels a tad more responsive.

On slippery surfaces with optional all-wheel drive, a switch can lock the torque split between front and rear wheels, for best low-speed traction. All-wheel drive also includes torque vectoring, which enhances cornering performance.

Fuel economy is decent, especially with turbo power. The 2017 model with 2.0-liter engine and front-drive was EPA-rated at 23/30 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined. All-wheel-drive lowered the estimate to 21/26/23 mpg.

With the 1.6-liter turbo, front-drive Tucsons were EPA-rated at 25/30 mpg City/Highway, or 27 mpg Combined. All-wheel dropped that estimate to 24/28/25 mpg. Tucson Eco with front-drive was EPA-rated at 26/32 mpg City/Highway, or 28 mpg Combined, dipping to 25/30/27 mpg with all-wheel drive.

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