Review: 2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate – Part 2

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This is the 2.4 L engine that powers the 2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate. It puts out 181 horsepower and 175 pound feet of torque. In comparison with the 1.6L turbo engine that used to power this trim level, it has 6 more horsepower, but 20 less pound feet of torque.  Horsepower is a peak measurement which makes torque far more important as that’s what gets you off the line and around transport trucks. And the drop in torque is noticeable if you’re someone like me who’s driven the 1.6L turbo engine version. That’s not to say that it’s a bad engine as it will still move you past transport trucks and allow you to merge traffic with no issues. But it just lacks the punch that the turbo engine provided. Thus if you like a more spirited drive, you aren’t going to get it here.

Another change for 2019 is that the seven speed dual clutch transmission is gone in favor of a six speed automatic. It’s a smooth shifting unit that I have no complaints about. But this engine transmission combo doesn’t deliver the best fuel economy. I am currently getting 11.4 L/100 KM which is about 1 L/100 KM to 1.5 L/100 KM more than in my 2016 model that comes with the turbo engine and the dual clutch transmission. And compared with competitive offerings from Mazda (CX-5), Honda (CR-V) and Toyota (RAV4), that may be a negative for someone who wants top shelf fuel economy from their compact SUV.

So, the question that you may be asking is why would Hyundai would make a switch like this which would result in lower fuel economy and allow this discussion to pop up? I don’t have any inside info, but my guess goes something like this. The 1.6L turbo with the seven speed dual clutch transmission did generate a lot of complaints in the 2016-2018 model years. I’ve gone into that at length here if you want all the details. Thus I am guessing that Hyundai decided that they didn’t want to deal with those complaints anymore. So they pulled what appears on the surface to be the base engine and transmission from the Santa Fe and dropped it into the upscale Tucson as it is a proven combo. And they were willing to live with the fuel economy hit to make the complaints go away. It makes sense to me and to be frank, this engine/transmission combo might be a better fit for the Tucson as it is more in line with what some expect from how a engine transmission combo should behave when you drive as dual clutch transmissions are a bit “weird” to drive for some. So in short, I think Hyundai made the right call here.

The power goes to all four wheels via Hyundai’s HTRAC AWD system. This system was developed as a multi-mode system, providing an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a similar system that is used in the Hyundai Genesis that I reviewed a few years back. But unlike that system, it is front wheel biased rather than rear wheel biased.

One area that is a plus for Hyundai is that the ride and handling is great. While it’s not up to Mazda CX-5 levels as that is what I consider to be the gold standard for handling in this class, it’s better than most compact SUVs out there. And one thing that Hyundai has really worked on noise, vibration and harshness as it’s much quieter than the 2016 version. Body roll is well controlled and it feels solid than’s to the high strength steel that Hyundai makes itself.

The next part of this review covers the interior of 2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate. It’s an interesting yet comfortable interior to be in and I will explain why tomorrow.

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