By on March 29, 2018

The radically mildly refreshed 2019 Hyundai Tucson, unveiled Wednesday at the New York International Auto Show, might not attract stares and selfies in the same way as the show’s more exotic sheetmetal, but it’ll sure draw buyers to the showroom.

Hyundai needs to collect those buyers. Amid a sales slump it hopes to remedy with an onslaught of crossovers, the compact Tucson crossover is one of the automaker’s largest meal tickets. Sales rose 31 percent, year over year, in the U.S. last month. And, while the Elantra and Santa Fe boast larger sales volumes, the Tucson has the best growth rate — sales are up 32.1 percent over the first two months of 2018.

To reward the buying public for their continued support, Hyundai has made changes to the 2019 model. Who wants a larger engine?

The report we brought you earlier this month panned out, but with a catch. Yes, the 2019 Tucson will indeed offer a 2.4-liter four-cylinder as an upgrade over its base 2.0-liter powerplant, but it comes at the expense of the turbocharged 1.6-liter four. That engine drops from the Tucson catalogue for 2019.

Opting for the 2.4 brings 181 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque to the equation, a move up from the 2.0-liter’s 164 hp and 151 lb-ft. Both engines meter out the power through a six-speed automatic.

For 2019, a Sport trim joins the Tucson stable, positioned between SEL and Limited. These three trim levels see the 2.4-liter, whereas the base and SE models stick with the smaller mill. As we told you before, going Sport adds appearance and content upgrades, as well as 19-inch wheels — up an inch from the SEL’s donuts and two inches from lesser trims. The Limited gains extra chrome trim because people like that sort of thing.

Looks-wise, changes are subtle to say the least. A very slightly revised grille, front fascia, and headlamp design will forgive you if you fail to notice any difference, and the interior greets you with an altered center stack and gauge cluster. For the coming model year, forward collision-avoidance assist (automatic emergency braking) and lane keeping assist joins the roster of standard features. Rear seat passengers in SEL models will discover a new USB port, while backseat denizens of the Limited model gain a wireless charging pad.

Hyundai hasn’t released a price list just yet.

So, there you have it. More trim choice, more available horsepower, less available torque, and design changes that won’t offend the faithful. We’d be shocked if the Tucson didn’t have another record year.

[Images: Hyundai]

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29 Comments on “2019 Hyundai Tucson: There’s No Replacement for Displacement, It Seems...”


  • avatar
    redapple

    No thx.
    Korean cars have poor driving dynamics.
    No prestige (over honda/ toyota).
    Poor Resale.
    Lower quality than Honda/Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      I wasn’t aware that the CRV and RAV-4 had highly regarded driving dynamics or had some sort of snob appeal.

      • 0 avatar
        Todd Hoover

        I know, right? Hyundai haters always gonna hate them no matter what. My favorite is that only poor people with bad credit drive them… LMFAO!

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Biro

        I wasn’t aware that prestige was something that needs to be considered when buying a CUV. My wife’s Tucson is definitely peppier and more fun to drive than my Forester.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      Two of your suppositions are no longer accurate, yet they continue to influence the other two.

    • 0 avatar
      tsoden

      You obviously has no experience with Korean brands lately. The quality is much higher than you might think…

      Driving dynamics depend on the car.. but honestly this is not something people are complaining about.

      Prestige? Who cares. Even big names like BMW and Mercedes have the prestige… but they are no more reliable than a Hyundai. In many cases they are LESS reliable.

    • 0 avatar
      daviel

      You should try out the Kia Forte Koup SX turbo

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        The last time we shopped for a car, we test-drove the Kia Sportage with a 2.0 turbo. It had more pep and better handling than any of the Escape, Rogue or RAV4.

        I have always wondered why Hyundai doesn’t offer the 2.0 turbo in the Tucson, which is the sister of the Sportage.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Funny, the Australian spec Tucson has beaten the venerable Mazda CX-3 for driving dynamics/ride.

      Also, C&D ranks the Tucson 5th among compact CUVs and the Sportage 4th.

      The RAV-4 is ranked 10th.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Here’s a high 5 to Hyundai for actually INCREASING displacement on a new model.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      The only reason why they switched back to the 2.4 and 6 speed is due to warranty costs. The DCT attached to the 1.6T was a disaster and it appears they haven’t figured out how to attach the 8 speed auto to it.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @SC – I can’t think of a single DCT that I would want to own out of warranty from ANY manufacturer. The sooner those units DIE the happier I’ll be.

        @SCE – In our “Current Era” it’s hard to think of anybody who has upped displacement from one generation to the next. Given the proliferation of small displacement turbos I’ll applaud that it isn’t getting a 3 cyl 1.0 Turbo.

        • 0 avatar
          ACCvsBig10

          but hyundai keeps decreasing hp on the same engine. the 2.4l used to make 200hp/186tq now it down to 181/175

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            And Hyundai was often accused of “overrating” the HP on their engines. It may be the same engine with a more realistic assessment of it’s capability.

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            It was never 200 HP in the Tucson which has a different exhaust and intake than in the Sonata.

          • 0 avatar
            Steve Biro

            The 2.4 liter is now much more drivable than it used to be. It now has very usable low and mid-range power and torque. It used to be a much peakier powerplant. In the real world, it’s much more satisfying these days.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Doesn’t really make sense considering that the Kona comes equipped with the 7 spd DCT (not much in the complaint dept. according to the reviews) and Kia added the DCT to the Optima lineup.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Well, the 2.4 is the same motor they used *standard* in the Tucson for many years prior, with the same 185-ish hp specs.

      Now they’re going to charge you extra to have it.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    If you were trying to hide in plain sight, this would be your vehicle. It’s every vapid, stale CUV rolled into one, the bag lunch of auto design.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    None of those horsepower and torque numbers mean much unless you also tell us how much vehicle weight they have to haul around.

  • avatar
    aquaticko

    Acknowledging the issues with the DCT, it’s weird that they’re going back to the same old engine they’ve had around for years which offers neither class-leading fuel economy or particularly noteworthy performance or refinement. This is the same engine that Hyundai introduced nearly a decade ago in the previous Sonata. Time for a redo, either of the excellent 1.6T with the 8-speed auto, or a new 4-cylinder altogether.

  • avatar
    gtem

    I’ve recently driven a Santa Fe Sport rental with the 2.4 for a 4 hour highway trip, it’s a decent enough vehicle, no strong opinions about it at all. Got about 27mpg indicated going 75mph-ish most of the way so that’s not bad at all if the actual calculated MPG lined up (didn’t check). Mine also had nice meaty tires with a 65 series sidewall, it rode great. Not sure if there’s anything about it to recommend over a CRV or whatever the freshest offering in the class might be, but for the right price its’ a decent option IMO. Damning with faint praise perhaps, but nothing stood out as a glaring fault except perhaps the cheap feeling grain on the steering wheel (getting picky now, but it did stand out).

    • 0 avatar
      EX35

      My last Santa Fe sport rental was mediocre. Hell, my father in laws 2006 Rav 4 drive better at high speed than the much more modern Hyundai. The Santa Fe’s overboosted steering was atrocious and keeping the thing headed straight required constant corrections.

      • 0 avatar
        tsoden

        You do realize that you could have adjusted the steering feel right? There are three Steering modes… Normal, Comfort, and Sport. Comfort really loosens the feel to make driving the car effortless, whereas Sport really buttons down the feeling so that it hardly feels boosted.

  • avatar
    MAS

    Always amuses me how people who have never owned or even extensively driven a vehicle feel qualified to share their uninformed opinion. I have owed a 2016 Tucson Limited for the last 2.5 years and put 32K trouble free miles on it. The Tucson handling and ride is excellent for a CUV and the cabin is extremely quiet. Can’t say that about the last 3 Honda vehicles I have owned (extremely noisy cabins…yikes!). Also, the infotainment/NAV system works well and is intuitive to use. It also has good acceleration with a very smooth and responsive 1.6 Turbo. The only negative is the DCT transmission, which shudders slightly from a standing start (common characteristic of many DCT). Not really that big of a deal and still better than most CVT transmissions. It also gets great gas mileage, which is rare for a Turbo (I’m looking at you Ford). Once you get past 5 mph the transmission is smooth and shifts perfectly. Both my wife and I love the vehicle. I’m not a Hyundai fan boy, but this is actually a nice vehicle.

  • avatar
    300zx_guy

    The wife and I test drove a Tucson recently. It was one of the only non-luxury brand cars that had most of the features she wanted (surprisingly hard to find 8-way power passenger seat in a mainstream branded car. Equinox has it also, and with lumbar!). I was mostly impressed with the it, but the transmission was a little odd. It seemed to rev very high but in a way that didn’t match the car’s acceleration. Otherwise I liked the overall package quite a bit, but it was not fast enough or pretty enough inside for my wife’s taste, and we both though it was strange that it did not have seat memory, considering the other features that it did have with the Ultimate options package. I’d be curious to test drive the 2.4/6-speed to see what a difference it makes.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I’ve never really paid much attention to this segment, yet there are so many on the road.

    I just did a quick search to see what we have in Australia and was amazed that there are 32 competing vehicles in this segment of mid-sized SUVs (Aussie).

    These are the mid-size sedan/car killers.

    https://www.carsguide.com.au/suv/midsize-suvs

  • avatar
    bd2

    Actually don’t care for the (minor) exterior changes, but the interior/dash gets a much needed major rework.

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