2016 Hyundai Tucson – A Three Year Update

Today marks three years since my wife and I purchased our 2016 Hyundai Tucson, and I wanted to provide an update on what our experience has been with the vehicle. The reason being is that I feel that it is important to see how reliable a vehicle is as it ages as that will govern things like if I will buy another vehicle from the same brand, or if I will speak positively or negatively about the vehicle when asked.

First of all, let’s have a look at the Tucson three years in and freshly detailed by Vanquish Car Care. You can also see the Yakima roof rack that my wife and I use to transport our bikes to and from our rides:

 

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I still love the looks of this vehicle after three years. It’s classic, but at the same time it’s a bit edgy with the character lines down the side . I think that this is a look that will still look good for years to come as it isn’t the “flavor of the month” from a car design perspective.

Now let’s get the negative stuff out of the way. Which really isn’t all that negative. But still merits mentioning. Specifically:

  • The turn signal switch would sometimes not work at all when you used it to indicate a left turn, or it would work and stop working. A number of people on the Hyundai Forum had exactly the same issue which prompted me to take it to the dealer. But in my case it took two visits to the dealer before they could replicate the problem. Then it took three weeks to get a replacement switch in, only to discover that it was the wrong switch that they ordered. Which meant I had to wait another week to get the proper switch in to resolve the issue.
  • The drivers door handle started to require two pulls to open. Of interest, a few other people on the Hyundai Forum had the same issue. The dealer traced the issue to a door actuator going bad. But they didn’t have the parts in stock. But he offhandedly mentioned that if I had a Santa Fe he has the part in stock because “they go bad all the time.” Food for thought quite clearly. The part was ordered and came in 2 days later and that solved the issue.
  • Frequent readers might recall that when my wife and I were travelling across the country last year, the AC would stop working part way through our drives. At the time we thought it was user error. But in reality, it was a issue that Hyundai had not only documented, but launched a service campaign to fix. And the fix was to update the software that runs the climate control system and to replace the Evaporator Temperature Sensor with an improved version. This did not impress many on the Hyundai Forum who paid out of pocket for the later to fix their AC issues.
  • I had a clunking sound coming from the front end of the car which was more pronounced if I was turning right at the time. It took the dealer a few tries to figure out what was going on, but they finally traced the issue to the sway bar links going bad. Apparently they’re considered to be a consumable item and replacing them makes this issue go away. It also means that I can expect this to happen again.
  • The Tucson has had the dual clutch transmission software updated a couple of times to try and address long standing complaints that some owners have with it. Specifically that at low speed it is jerky and that it in certain situations can cause the Tucson to stall. In my case, I love this transmission as it shifts quickly and is great on gas. While I have seen the low speed jerky behavior at times in stop and go traffic, I have not see the stalling issue. Plus many other dual clutch transmissions that I have tried have had similar behavior from my experience. Thus it doesn’t bother me. But I can see how it might bother others. Having said all of that, it appears that Hyundai has given up using this transmission in the Tucson as they are going to the engine/transmission combo that is in the Santa Fe when they refresh the Tucson for the 2019 model year. What they are going to is a six speed torque converter style transmission and an engine that is up on horsepower but unfortunately down on torque. I should note that the turbocharger is gone too as this is a normally aspirated engine. Plus you can expect that fuel economy will go down too as there’s one less gear to work with and this is a bigger displacement engine.
  • This is more of an annoyance than anything else, but the key fob is super sensitive. You can open the rear hatch by accident simply by having it in a the pocket of a tight fitting pair of pants with other objects in said pocket. The worst thing is you’ll never know this happened until you go out to your car and discover it open. Hopefully with all your stuff still in the vehicle.

Now am I upset at any of the above. Sure they’re annoying. But cars are machines. And machines break. The only part that should be a cause for concern is that it in a couple of cases, it took weeks to get parts which seems to be a pattern with Hyundai Canada that started when the blind spot monitoring system went bad. Which at the time I said this:

That’s a major #fail as a car company the size of Hyundai should have a parts inventory that allows dealers to get parts quickly so that their customers can get their issues resolved in a timely manner. Hyundai has stepped up its game to make their cars ones that scare car companies in America, Japan, and Germany. But when it comes to parts availability, they seriously need do something about that if they want to be considered a top tier car manufacturer. 

I said that in 2016 and that commentary still applies today. Hopefully Hyundai Canada makes some changes on that front to improve the customer experience.

Here’s the upshot. All of the above was covered by Hyundai’s five year warranty. So we were not out of pocket for any of it. Plus we have two years of extended warranty coverage on top of that in case anything else goes wrong.

Now here’s the positives. This is a great highway vehicle. It’s excellent for road trips as my wife and I drove it to Newfoundland and back last year and enjoyed the experience. Not to mention other road trips like the one to Prince Edward County and to Ottawa and the 1000 Islands. It feels solid and handles exceptionally well. It’s great on on gas and has a lot of get up and go to it. Plus it’s roomy as I’ve been able to take four other adults in the vehicle with ease. Maintenance costs have been decent when it comes to things like oil changes and other routine service as well. But the biggest thing is that people comment on how upscale the Tucson feels, especially with the dual pane sunroof that it comes with.

The Tucson has aged extremely well. None of the interior looks worn and that includes the leather. Of course some of that might be due to the fact that I have it detailed once a year or more. From an engine perspective, it’s still quiet and mechanically sound. That’s important because what brought us to the Tucson was the oil burning problems that our previous vehicle that was made by Toyota had. And the fact that the company would not address because it wasn’t burning enough oil. For the record, I have had zero oil burning issues with the Tucson. As in zip, zero, nada. That’s a very good thing.

Gripes? Well, it doesn’t come with tire pressure monitoring. To be fair, that’s not required in Canada. But when most if not all of your competition in Canada comes with tire pressure monitoring and you don’t, you need to up your game. It also has only one USB port which means that you’ll have to grab a couple 12V to USB chargers to keep all your devices charged. But those are really minor gripes on an otherwise stellar vehicle.

Now I have made some modifications or “mods” as the kids would say to the vehicle. Now before I get into what those modifications are, let me say that they are very minor in comparison to the people who put bigger turbos, new suspensions and the like in their cars. And in no way will anything I do void my warranty and cause issues later on. But these “mods” will enhance the vehicle in ways that will improve the driving experience and comfort. Not to mention make it look even more upscale than it already is.

For starters, I wasn’t happy with the brightness level of the headlights. On dark country roads they were fine, but in the city you would never know that they were on. So I enlisted the help of this guy who works out of his home. He isn’t the fly by night sort as he is fully insured and knows what he is doing. He upgraded the HID headlight bulbs from 4300K to 6000K as well as installed these LED fog lamp bulbs that I got from Amazon which made the light output match the 6000K headlight bulbs. For bonus points, I also replaced the high beam bulbs with whiter ones from Amazon to complete the look. The net result was this:

IMG_0144

This gave me the brightness levels that I wanted and it also enhanced the look. As a bonus, everything is still legal which is really important.

The next thing I did was the backup lights. I converted them to these LED light bulbs from Amazon as not only does it enhance the look of the vehicle, but LED lights use less power and last longer. In theory, I should never have to replace any of the LED bulbs that I installed (more on the other LED bulbs that I installed in a moment). It was a fifteen minute job that I did myself to get this result:

IMG_1130.jpg

As you can see, the backup lights which sit under the brake lights (which interestingly enough are LED lights straight from the factory) are very white and bright. I should also point out the license plate lights which I used these LED bulbs to get the look that you see, and those only took five minutes to do.

The final thing that I did externally is to convert the front and rear turn signals to LED as well. That was a bit more of a challenge as modern cars monitor the lights to see if the bulb has burnt out. And putting in LED lights often cause those warnings to appear and the bulbs to blink way faster than they should (which is known as hyperflashing). The common fix for that is to splice in a resistor into the wiring to the bulbs to fool the car into thinking that it has an incandescent bulb installed. Or use an error cancelling device to achieve the same effect. But I didn’t want to go either of those routes. Thus while it took a bit of hunting around, I found LED bulbs from this Korean based company which would be plug and play. Here’s a video of the result:

That takes care of the exterior. Now onto what I did to the interior. To give myself some extra storage space, I replaced the fuse box cover to the left of the steering wheel with this one which gave me space for my gas cards.

fuse box tray

Then I got this center console tray to give myself some extra storage for the center console as I was able to put my frequently used items in it.

center tray

Now over to the cool stuff. I replaced the pedals with stainless steel sport ones to make the Tucson look more upscale. Mainly because the footwell area looked kind of dark and boring. Plus in Korea, the Tucson comes with sport pedals in the upper trim levels. Not to mention that the sister vehicle to the Tucson which is the Kia Sportage comes with these pedals in Canada. I used an OEM part to do this so that there would be no issues and it took 20 minutes of work with a socket wrench to get this result:

IMG_0036.jpg

This looks far more upscale. The final thing on my task list was to convert the interior lighting to LED bulbs. Now Hyundai did do some of this for me by having LED lights for most of the interior. But for whatever reason, they missed the vanity lights, glove box light and rear cargo area light. Which meant that there was a yellowish light which was noticeable because LED areas of the interior had a very crisp white light to it. These bulbs were very easy to swap out and here’s the results starting with the rear cargo area light:

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The glove box light:

IMG_0149.jpgAnd the vanity light:

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None of what I did required anything like splicing of wires, drilling or the like. It was all plug and play with the help of the odd screwdriver or socket wrench. But they all made a difference in terms of how the vehicle looks and how comfortable I feel in it.

So, let me answer the central question. Would my wife and I purchase the Tucson again? The answer is yes. It has been great to us and we’ve enjoyed having it and look forward to many more years of it being a central part of what we do. Hyundai really nailed it with the Tucson which is little wonder why we see so many of them on the road. Clearly they have a winning formula that resonates with buyers in the compact SUV space.

 

 

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