2019 Hyundai Tucson - This Old Brown Shoe

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate AWD

2.4-liter inline four, DOHC (181 hp @ 6000 rpm, 175 lb/ft. @ 4000 rpm)
Six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
21 city / 26 highway / 23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
24.7 (observed mileage, MPG)
11.0 city / 9.1 highway / 10.1 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
$33,995 US / $39,431CAD
As Tested
$34,130 US/ $39,562 CAD
Prices include $1045 destination charge in the United States and $1805 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2019 hyundai tucson this old brown shoe

I’ve owned this pair of New Balance running shoes for at least 10 years. I don’t know why I call them running shoes – I’m a fat, middle-aged guy who doesn’t run unless being chased by a predator. Anyhow, they are old, worn, with dark stains from 10w-30 and greenish stains from mowing the lawn. These are not casual shoes to wear out on the town – unless your idea of date night is a run to Home Depot. They aren’t fancy, but they are always comfortable and will seemingly never wear out.

This 2019 Hyundai Tucson is the automotive equivalent of those shoes. I’m not saying it’s covered in grass stains or is otherwise ugly – but neither is it a flashy special collectors-edition limited colorway pair of hypebeast sneakers. It’s simply a solid, comfortable car that is incredibly easy to live with. I put a ton of miles on the Tucson in my week with it, and it felt like home. Like those old suburban dad shoes.

I’ve gone on the record with my distaste for the entire crossover genre. They unsuccessfully ape the looks of a rugged SUV, while generally not performing as well as a similarly sized sedan. Cargo space can be at a premium as well. But a few crossovers straddle the line well.

I’ll grant that the fuel economy isn’t stellar here on the Tucson if comparing to a sedan. That said, for a tall all-wheel drive wagon, I was happy with nearly 25 mpg over a week with a bunch of interstate driving. I was inching close to four hundred miles between fuel stops, which I can assure you is just beyond the range of a ten-year-old’s bladder.

I’d never subject a crossover to a serious off-roading excursion, but occasionally a trek through the woods on a groomed trail is necessary if headed to a secluded campsite. I was able to easily conquer a steep driveway lined in very loose gravel at my sister-in-law’s house – a driveway that bested the transfer case on a “real” SUV, by the way.

Those highway miles were pleasant enough – save the Tri-State Tollway around Chicago since I don’t have an I-Pass. But the twin-cam four cylinder was powerful enough to launch from those tollbooths with enough verve to merge without drama. The ride was unremarkable – impacts with potholes were muted, and expansion joints were dispatched without cowl shake.

The Tucson isn’t much to look at, I’m afraid. While it’s unoffensive, it blends into the parking lot immediately, especially in this shade of metallic grey. The dark plastic cladding lining the lower extremities and the wheel wells is straight out of central casting for “Generic SUV.”

One weird touch is the color of the trim surrounding the side windows – or, specifically, colors. Atop the window, it’s black. Below, it’s polished chrome. The two meet awkwardly at the top of the rear quarter window. I’ll admit I didn’t notice it until I looked closely at the photos, and thought it was a result of photographing with a potato. But once I looked at other angles, I drove to my local Hyundai dealer to verify. It isn’t my hackery with the lens, I’m afraid – and now I cannot unsee the transition.

The interior is mercifully free of any weirdness. It’s basically the same interior found in nearly every current Hyundai, with only minor detail tweaks. The infotainment, while of the “iPad glued to the dash” variety, is large, clear, and simple to use. The HVAC controls are intuitive, though I’d prefer a knob to control fan speed over the pushbutton. Plastics are perhaps a touch hard in some spots, but no worse than most competitors in this price range.

I logged a good bit of windshield time with the Tucson, and the driver’s seat never made me complain. It’s relatively flat, but supportive enough to keep me from aching after hours in the saddle. The kids had plenty of space in the second row as well, and thirty-one cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats was plenty for everything we had to haul. I’m sure if we had a dog, rather than three cats who absolutely go insane at the sight of their carrier, that Fido would be happy in the tall, reasonably deep cargo space.

I love that a wireless phone charger is fitted to this Ultimate trim, but I’d prefer it have some sort of positive phone retention. Flat phone pads such as this one are fine if the car never moves, but my phone tends to slide a bit while driving, thus losing connection to the charger. Not a big deal on my trip, as I plugged into USB anyhow to access Android Auto – so I could use Waze to avoid the bulk of Chicago traffic.

You’re wondering why I subtitled the review “This Old Brown Shoe.” Well, George Harrison was my favorite Beatle, and he had a B-side named “Old Brown Shoe” in 1969 that I particularly enjoy. Well, a new color for the Tucson this year is Sage Brown, so were I to buy one I’d have to choose that hue.

Ever the cheapskate, I’d forgo the Ultimate trim and spec the SEL trim that most dealers tend to stock. I would also lose the panoramic sunroof (I’d rather not sacrifice headroom for a piece of glass), pedestrian detection (that’s what my eyes are for, right?), leather, and ventilated front seats (this one might hurt). As central Ohio weather generally doesn’t require anything more than front-wheel drive, I’d skip all-wheel drive. That gives me a perfectly capable commuter at $26,645.

At that price, it’s a shoe-in.

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn, screenshot courtesy HyundaiUSA.com]

Join the conversation
5 of 56 comments
  • Gtem Gtem on Jul 11, 2019

    "a driveway that bested the transfer case on a “real” SUV, by the way." Do tell!

  • IBx1 IBx1 on Jul 11, 2019

    What a miserable vehicle this is. New Balance shoes would be more Toyota; this thing is a pair of AND1 shoes from Walmart.

    • See 2 previous
    • SPPPP SPPPP on Jul 12, 2019

      @IBx1 Thanks! Though it appears I am behind the times, as they may have phased out "Faded Glory". https://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/walmart-unveils-apparel-brands-check-amazon-s-growth/312395

  • Kat Laneaux What's the benefits of this as opposed to the Ford or Nissan. Will the mileage be better than the 19 city, 24 hwy? Will it cost less than the average of $60,000? Will it be a hybrid?
  • Johnster Minor quibble. The down-sized full-sized 1980-only Continental (which was available with Town Car and Town Coupe trims) gave up its name in 1981 and became the Town Car. The name "Town Coupe" was never used after the 1980 model year. The 1981 Lincoln Town Car was available with a 2-door body style, but the 2-door Lincoln Town Car was discontinued and not offered for the 1982 model year and never returned to the Lincoln lineup.
  • Zipper69 Some discreet dwebadging and this will pass for a $95k Lucid Air...
  • Zipper69 Does it REALLY have to be a four door?Surely a truly compact vehicle could stick with the half-door access with jump seats for short term passengers.
  • ToolGuy See kids, you can keep your old car in good condition.