Driven: 2015 Hyundai Tucson GLS Review
By James Hamel
Nowhere did Hyundai’s ascendancy as an auto manufacturing powerhouse become clearest than with its exemplary compact and midsize SUV offerings known as the Tucson and Santa Fe. Then, of course, came the space age Sonata and Elantra as well as the luxuriously envelope pushing Genesis and Equus not to mention the ridiculously sporty rear drive Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track. With each passing year Hyundai models go from strength to strength even when they are merely given a mild midlife refresh.
And so it goes with the admittedly aging Tucson which Hyundai has managed to keep fresh thanks to some clever nips and tucks that would do even a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon proud. Interior materials have been improved and the lighting design and exterior trim has more chrome effect to give everything an upscale feel. Nothing at all like the first generation Tucson, that is, if you even remember what that SUV looked like. Let’s just say it was outclassed all the way around. The 2015 model is not and thankfully it still majors on serious value!
The 2015 Hyundai Tucson is one of the few crossovers that actually looks even better in the metal than it does in pictures. Thanks to the many concave creases in the body it is hard to catch exactly how attractive this compact SUV is just by looking at pictures. We had quite a bit of trouble taking photos of it but then the writer of this piece who took many of the shots is a terrible photographer so that isn’t telling you much.
Pricing for the 2015 Tucson starts just over $21,000 for a GLS model with a 2.0 liter 164 horsepower/151 lb. feet of torque 4-cylinder with standard 6-speed automatic (all Tucson SUVs are so equipped with this gearbox)1 17 inch alloys, 23 city/29 highway EPA economy estimates, air conditioning, Bluetooth, power windows and locks, a 160-watt 6-speaker audio system with USB/i-pod integration, cruise and all the essentials. Move up to SE trim and you cross $23,000 but get a 2.4 liter 182 horsepower/177 lb. feet of torque 4-cylinder that is more refined and returned 25 miles per gallon over the course of a week which is quite good. SE nets you heated side mirrors, fog lamps, roof rails, heated front leatherette power seats, a 4.3 inch center screen with back-up camera and of course that 10 year warranty.
On top of the heap is the still insanely affordable Limited model which adds a 360 watt 7 speaker audio upgrade, HD Radio, Hyundai’s impressive BlueLink Telematics system which connect to your smartphone, leather seating, a proximity key with push button start, 18-inch alloys all for $26,450 but you will of course then want the $2,300 plus Tech package with in-dash navigation, a panoramic moonroof, upgraded subwoofer and external amplifier with a larger, clearer 7-inch center touchscreen. If you want all-wheel drive that will add $1,650 to the sticker price but oddly enough even our front wheel drive tester had hill descent control. A lot of all-wheel drive SUVs don’t even offer that feature.
What’s It Like to Drive the 2015 Hyundai Tucson for a Week?
The simple and straightforward buttons and knobs for the air conditioning and stereo are also made from high quality plastic so that pretty much takes care of most of the touch points you come in contact with during normal driving. The dashboard may not feel squishy but how often do you feel up your dashboard? Again, if you do that a lot you may need to start seeing a therapist.
Hyundai really thought through the design of the 2015 Hyundai Tucson’s interior and expertly balanced cost considerations with the demands of the market. In addition to all of this there is also plenty of room for four ample sized six-footers to ride in the cabin with plenty of leg and hip room leftover.
The cargo area is also surprisingly large with 25.7 cubic feet behind the second row and 55.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat. They don’t fold completely flat so perhaps it is more accurate to say “almost flat.” This small niggle won’t matter to most people anyway if they have heavy cargo sitting on top of them anyway. Then they will be “quite flat.” Okay, now we are being obnoxious.
But in the echelon of family SUVs out there, the 2015 Hyundai Tucson marks itself out as a bright, shining star. The steering is light for easy maneuverability but it never feels numb like so many Toyota or Nissan systems. A lot of SUV power steering racks nowadays confuse heaviness with feel but from behind the wheel of the Tucson you always feel in complete control.
Body roll is kept in decent check but you never want to tackle a tight freeway off-ramp at 90 miles per hour in an SUV anyway. Not that I would ever do that. Given the Tucson’s small size, it is amazing at how well it handles the ruts, bumps and road irregularities inherent to most Southern California freeways. Wind and road noise are also nicely muted for a vehicle of this size and price.
The 2.4 liter 176 horsepower/168 lb. feet of torque 4-cylinder feels plenty powerful loaded up with 3 passengers and a dog as the 6-speed automatic is very good at keeping the engine in its optimal power band. The 6-speed automatic is one of Hyundai’s designs and it is one very smooth operator. Kudos to Hyundai.
While the 2.4 liter 4-cylinder has enough power for freeway passing maneuvers it is still buzzier and less refined than the four banger used in Honda’s CR-V or the Mazda CX-5. Engine noise at high RPMs is really the only thing holding back the 2015 Hyundai Tucson from true class leader status. At cruising speeds, however, the engine in the Tucson settles down into a muted thrum that makes it a quite capable cruiser especially if you like to listen to music when you drive.
Why This Ride?
– No compact family SUV can beat it for value for money
– It feels solidly constructed and has a 10 year powertrain warranty
– Despite the age of the design it still feels competitive
– The exterior design has remained fresh looking
– Quick enough in passing situations with decent economy