DETROIT — Impressive. That is the first thing that came to mind when we saw the 2018 Hyundai Tucson crossover.
For the new model year, it added a 7-inch audio display system with expanded availability of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, HD Radio and heated seats. More than 90 percent of 2018 model year Tucsons will have these technologies.
Our test vehicle was black on black in black. At least that’s what the combination used to be called years ago; black on the exterior, black dash and black seats. Or, triple B.
The Tucson sported Hyundai’s hexagon grille, headlights that had LED accents, LED DRLs, a rear spoiler and rear LED brake lights. The crossover even had LED approach lights in the door handles.
The black wheels were accented with burnt orange wheel caps and followed through with burnt orange caps on the air valves which added some refinement to the look. Those wheels were 19-inches.
Hyundai said the “roof rails are sleek and low-profile for a clean, yet functional appearance. From the rear, a Z-shaped character line above the rear wheel accentuates an aggressive, sporty side profile. The rear angle conveys stability and a wide, sporty stance, for agility both on and off-road.” Overall this Hyundai Tucson had a no-nonsense look, right down to the twin bevel chrome exhaust tips.
Inside, there was a black pattern on the seats. They were comfortable, everything was in easy reach and the controls didn’t require interpretation. They were intuitive. The odometer and speedometer were oversized circles with large numerals. In other words, they were easy to see. And they were black with white numerals reversed out with a smaller TFT information screen between them.
We climbed into the back seats and found them to be very spacious. There was plenty of headroom as well as legroom. They were a little hard but not uncomfortable.
This Tucson also had a panoramic roof. The retractable part came back as far as the second row seats. The one control button system was a little sensitive but we think that is a matter of touch learned over repeated use.
As good as this Tucson looked; the impressive part was under the hood. It came in the form of a 1.6-liter turbocharged direct injected four cylinder engine that made 175 horsepower. That may not sound like much but this engine also made 195 pound feet of torque and it was available from 1,500 rpm to 4,500 rpm.
That’s low-end oomph and it was available from just about any speed. Plus there was a seven-speed dual clutch automatic. It was smooth, fast and the changing of gears was silky. This engine had an EPA rating of 24 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg combined.
Acceleration was really swift. Handling was great too. And really surprising was the ride. It was smooth, just not what you’d expect out of a small crossover. An inch longer wheel base made a difference. It was an inch wider too.
The chassis was more rigid. The mass of the Tucson has been centered better and the suspension had been tuned for precise handling. It all combined to make the 2018 model ride like a much larger vehicle.
Our test vehicle was equipped with all-wheel-drive that could be locked for extremely slippery road or off-road excursions. The system also included something Hyundai called Active Cornering Control, which automatically transferred torque to the wheels with the most traction. It reduced understeer and enhanced performance by braking the inside rear wheel and delivered more torque to the outside wheel. There was also hill start assist and downhill braking control. What’s more you could use the drive mode selector to put it in sport.
Hyundai engineers put a lot of work into reducing noise, vibration and harshness by increasing rigidity throughout the chassis. For instance the front and rear suspension setups were 20 percent stiffer.
Our test vehicle had satellite radio, blind spot alert, a rearview camera with cross traffic alert, two 12V plugs, an auxiliary jack and a USB jack, roof rails, lane change assist, a smart key and push button start-stop, a smart power lift gate and voice controls.
That was our only problem with the test vehicle. We tried to use the voice control feature and it didn’t come close to who we wanted to call. We tried three times and it failed to find the correct name. Other than that, the 2018 Tucson Night AWD was a delight to drive. And at $30,220, we thought it well equipped and reasonably priced.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.