Third generation is charmed for the 2017 Hyundai Tucson. This version of the compact-crossover SUV gets just about everything right. Previous versions were competent, but not quite competitive with the class-leading Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape. This third generation gets it right, though. Hyundai reinvents its 5-passenger compact SUV with an eye-catching exterior design, the latest technology and safety aids like automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, and an available 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that gets up to 32 mpg. A lease-only hydrogen-powered fuel-cell version based on the last-gen platform remains available, but only in California. With a starting price of under $24,000 and improvements upon its former self in almost every category, the Tucson takes on the segment’s best.
The base Hyundai Tucson SE offers a 6-way-manual seat, but skip that and move up to the Sport or Eco, which comes with an 8-way-power seat with lumbar. The sensible dash offers big vents, simple instrumentation, and buttons and knobs for climate and audio controls, even if you opt for a higher-end model and its touch-screen interface. Simplicity extends to the digital display between the gauges, which doesn’t overload the driver with info. Even if it’s not best-in-class roomy, the comfortable rear seat works just fine, and the cargo area’s adjustable floor also includes storage for the cargo cover.
There’s no question the 2017 Tucson is a sharp-looking compact SUV. The big grille, flowing lines and LED-accented headlights bring it into the same fold as the Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport — very good company. The front end’s styling centers on that trapezoidal grille, with lines flowing over the hood and across the fenders to the rear, blending into the tail lights. Under the pretty styling is a chassis that uses more than 50-percent high-strength steel, providing a strength that makes the Hyundai Tucson safe and stable. If the hydrogen-powered Hyundai Tucson’s design looks older, it’s not your eyes. The fuel-cell Tucson remains based on the last-gen platform.
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