Hyundai Tucson one of several small SUVs offering usability and excellent fuel economy
For those who have followed this column for the past 30-plus years, it’s clear that we’re huge fans of sport utility vehicles and crossovers. They provide comfortable rides, offer amazing cargo hauling and utility, and often perform exceptionally well in inclement weather driving conditions.
We recently tested the 2016 Hyundai Tucson Sport FWD and found it to have all of those attributes. While small SUVs may not have the glamour of larger counterparts, they do provide reliable transportation from Point A to B at a lower initial price, as well as substantially lower operating costs. Our Tucson Sport tester, the third trim level of four offerings, had an MSRP of $26,150 with only one option (carpeted floor mats at $125) and overall fuel economy ratings of 27 MPG (25 city/30 highway). The optional AWD Tucson Sport has a base price of $27,550.
Our tester was powered by a 1.6-L turbocharged, four-cylinder, GDI engine (there is also a 2.0-L four-cylinder). The
DOHC 16-valve unit produced an amazing 175 HP at 5,500 RPM. When mated to the seven-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission, the overall powertrain was quite reactive and fun to drive. Perhaps it’s not an abundance of power, but an exciting balance of performance and fuel economy.
There are plenty of likable features on the 2016 Tucson, from halogen fog lamps to the leather-wrapped steering wheel to the Hands-free Smart Liftgate (which opens automatically when it senses the proximity key is within three feet of the rear gate for more than three seconds).
Our other likes include the 19-inch tires mounted to alloy wheels, dual heated and folding outside mirrors, and up to 61.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
An IIHS Top Safety Pick+, the Tucson has advanced airbags, a rear-view camera, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist, and Automatic Emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Add to those features Hill Start Assist, Downhill Brake Control, and a lane-departure warning system (a bit overactive for our taste), and it’s quite evident that safety has not been overlooked on this SUV.
The Tucson body is made of high-strength and high-tensile steel and the front and rear independent suspension systems (both with SACHS gas-pressurized shocks and stabilizer bars) provide a solid and comfortable ride.
While the rear seating is not gigantic, our overall experience with the Tucson was pleasurable — great price, plenty of cargo space, and nice fuel economy.
2016 Honda HR-V AWD EX-L Navi
Another small SUV we recently tested is the 2016 Honda HR-V AWD EX-L Navi, the top trim level of several HR-V 2WD and AWD model offerings with unit-body construction. Like the Tucson, this unit was loaded with standard equipment (with no options) and performed well during our weeklong drive.
With a 1.8-L SOHC i-VTEC aluminum alloy engine, the 16-valve unit produces 141 HP at 6,500 RPM with a torque output of 143 lb-ft. at 4,300 RPM. While all LX and other EX models have a standard six-speed manual transmission, the EX-L has a CVT with shift mode and dual paddle shifters.
The Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System on the HR-V provided us with safe and satisfying driving in true winter road conditions that included ice, snow, and slush. Honda’s Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control also provided an extra measure of safety during those rigorous driving circumstances.
The exterior features we liked on the HR-V included the one-touch power moonroof, fog lamps, multi-reflector headlamps, heated door mirrors with turn-signal indicators, and the 17-inch all-season tires mounted on alloy wheels.
On the interior, there is much to like on the HR-V EX-L, including heated front seats; a tilt/telescopic steering wheel that is leather-wrapped; next-generation HondaLink with Smartphone apps; 12-volt power outlets; Honda’s Lane Watch; Bluetooth/USB audio interface/Pandora radio interface; a seven-inch touchscreen for audio and Honda’s satellite-linked navigation with voice activation; and a multi-view rear camera.
Included on the HR-V EX-L are 60/40 rear split seats that fold down for optimum cargo hauling and provide up to 55.9 cubic feet of space. We loaded this crossover up with an amazing amount of cargo and it handled it all with ease.
EPA/DOT fuel economy on the AWD EX-L model is rated at 29 MPG overall (27/city and 32/highway). During our weeklong test, much of it on snowy and icy roads, we experienced 30.2 MPG.
Our tested EX-L had an MSRP of $25,840, though the base LX 2WD model is priced at $19,215 without many of the standard features found on the upper trim levels, such as the EX and EX-L trims.