Yeah, if this is new, I’m Donald Trump

All kinds of new cars are debuting at the New York Auto Show and here sits the Hyundai Tucson looking like it did last year, without that impressive 1.6-liter engine or a DCT transmission. Little tweaks outside did leave time for some more refinement inside, but in terms of powertrain technology, Hyundai has definitely taken a step backward, a move that could put it in an unrecoverable position in its fight against models like the Ford Edge and Chevy Equinox. Hyundai did bring some redesigned wheels and now offers a second-row USB charger too. Is that enough to consider the 2019 Tucson as a new model? Yeah, probably not, but keep reading for the finer details.

2019 Hyundai Tucson Exterior Design

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This is just a mid-cycle facelift that follows something along the lines of BMW’s facelift philosophy – make minor tweaks and call it new

If you believe what Hyundai says you’d think that the 2019 Tucson was all new. In reality, this is just a mid-cycle facelift that follows something along the lines of BMW’s facelift philosophy – make minor tweaks and call it new. For instance, the radiator grille is practically the same; it’s just be lifted a bit and now has a very slight curve on the sides. The headlights and taillights get a new LED pattern, while the corner vents receive more aggressive features. As a whole, the front end works together, but it really takes a trained eye to spot the difference.

Nothing on the side profile changes, but it’s a facelift, not a redesign – despite the fact that Hyundai is billing this as one of the “new” CUVs it plans to debut by 2020. Around back, the rear fascia was toned down with the reflectors now moved higher in the body. The hatch as a new design around the license plate recess and the rear skid plate now sits lower. Much like the drivetrain, Hyundai seems to have taken a step backward in design in the rear.

2019 Hyundai Tucson Performance (or lack thereof)

The “New” Tucson is Evidence that Hyundai Cares More About the Santa Fe Exterior
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In fairness, that’s six more horsepower than what was offered by the 1.6-liter turbo, but it’s also 20 pound-feet less

Hyundai promised that the 2019 Tucson comes with a “revised powertrain lineup featuring more power.” What that translates to is the same 2.0-liter with the same 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque and a 2.4-liter four-banger with 181 horsepower and 175 pound-feet. In fairness, that’s six more horsepower than what was offered by the 1.6-liter turbo, but it’s also 20 pound-feet less. To add insult to injury, that 2.4-liter – like the 2.0-liter – is paired with a six-speed automatic. That means that Hyundai dropped the turbocharged mill with more torque and the reliable seven-speed dual-clutch transmission for a naturally aspirated mill with a few more ponies and probably the same fuel economy. If the exterior design wasn’t backward, the powertrain lineup certainly is. I’m willing to bet that the 2.4-liter even does worse on the fuel economy front. The only thing that may save it is the lock-up torque converter that may help at higher speeds, but that’s an old technology that’s been around for years so Hyundai should have been using this on its standard automatic transmissions anyway

2019 Hyundai Tucson Interior – Where Things Actually Changed

The “New” Tucson is Evidence that Hyundai Cares More About the Santa Fe Interior
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The interior actually got a revitalizing look that does do the vehicle some justice

Hyundai may not have done much outside, and someone should be jailed for the crimes committed under the hood, but the interior actually got a revitalizing look that does do the vehicle some justice. That ugly center stack with too many buttons and surrounding bezel is gone and has been replaced by a floating display unit that isn’t any larger but is more stylish. The instrument cluster is the same while the bezel takes a different look as do all of the HVAC vents. The whole upper portion of the dash has been redesigned to offer up more character in light of the new infotainment system with the center console and HVAC controls looking more dated now than they did before. Everything else in the interior carries over, but the new dash does wonders, don’t you think?

Final Thoughts

The “New” Tucson is Evidence that Hyundai Cares More About the Santa Fe Exterior
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What Hyundai did under the hood and outside, however, is quite disturbing

The new look of the Tucson’s interior is admirable, despite that fact that the majority of the interior trim remains. What Hyundai did under the hood and outside, however, is quite disturbing. Especially when you consider this is being marketed as a “re-engineered” model. And, to make things worse, the brand actually thinks this thing has what it takes to do damage on the market, with Hyundai’s Director of Product Planning, Scott Margason, saying, “The 2019 Tucson trim enhancements place the modern-day Tucson as a top competitor for CUV shoppers.”

Well, we’re not so sure about that, but I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting folks to beat down dealer doors trying to get into a new Tucson. You’re honestly better off waiting a couple more years until the next-gen model comes out. But, to each their own, I suppose. At least Hyundai has the new Santa Fe, and it’s looking pretty good – maybe you should check out that.

References

The “New” Tucson is Evidence that Hyundai Cares More About the Santa Fe Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Hyundai Tucson.

2016 - 2017 Hyundai Tucson
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Read our full review on the 2017 Hyundai Tucson.

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Read more Hyundai news.

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Read more New York Auto Show news.

Press release

The redesigned 2019 Tucson enters the highly competitive compact CUV market with upgrades inside and out, including a new cascading grille, new center stack design, more advanced safety features and available Qi wireless charging. Following 12 consecutive monthly sales records for the current model year, the 2019 Tucson is positioned for even greater sales success, with expanded features such as standard Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™, standard Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, available second-row USB charger and Surround View Monitor. Eighty-nine percent of 2019 model year Tucsons will have these technologies included and the vehicle will be arriving in dealerships this fall. The 2019 Tucson is the fifth of eight new or re-engineered CUVs Hyundai is debuting by 2020.

2019 Tucson Updates

Exterior Design Changes
New Hyundai signature cascading grille
New headlight/DRL design
New front and rear fascias
New rear taillight design
New 18-inch wheels
Redesigned 17- and 19-inch wheels
Redesigned exhaust finisher on SEL and up

Interior Design Changes
New center stack design
New panel vent design
New leather seat design
New rearview mirror
New cluster

More advanced safety features
Standard: Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist and Lane Keeping Assist
Surround View Monitor
Smart Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go
Driver attention warning

New features
Standard: Electronic parking brake
Available: High Beam Assist, rain-sensing wipers, second-row USB charger, Qi wireless charging

Expanded features
Standard: 7-inch Display Audio system with Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™
Blue Link® Connected Car System with three years of complimentary Blue Link services
Standard: Shark-fin antenna

“From a design perspective, onlookers will recognize a generational harmony between Hyundai’s new 2019 Santa Fe and the refreshed Tucson,” said Chris Chapman, lead designer, Hyundai Motor America. “The signature elements of the Hyundai cascading grille and modern-day surfacing found in the rear view create shadowy, dramatic impressions and represent the Hyundai DNA.”

The 2019 model includes a revised powertrain lineup featuring more power. The two engines offered include a 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine (with an estimated 164 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque) and a 2.4-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder engine (with an estimated 181 horsepower and 175 lb-ft. of torque). Both are coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0-liter engine is found on the Value and SE trims and the 2.4-liter engine is inside the SEL, Sport and Limited trims. The six-speed offers SHIFTRONIC™ manual shifting mode and includes an overdrive lock-up torque converter for higher fuel economy at highway speeds.

“The 2019 Tucson trim enhancements place the modern-day Tucson as a top competitor for CUV shoppers,” said Scott Margason, director, product planning, Hyundai Motor America. “Additionally, the recent influx of product accolades including Most Dependable Small SUV by J.D. Power and Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as well as consecutive monthly sales records for the current Tucson, each helped influence the redesigned 2019 Tucson for further market appeal.”

Exterior Enhancements

Design changes, including the new Hyundai signature cascading grille and Daytime Running LED headlights to the face of the CUV, align the Tucson with the rest of the Hyundai family. A redesigned rear fascia, including the rear taillight design and new 18-inch alloy wheels for the SEL trim and redesigned 17- and 19-inch wheels for remaining trims, offer a refreshed look. In addition, chrome trim has been added to the bottom of the side windows for the Limited trim, which further enhances the bold look. A new shark-fin antenna is also standard for all trims.

Advanced Technology Features

The newly refined 2019 Tucson offers more advanced technology features including a second-row USB charger in the SEL trim and Qi wireless device charging in the Limited trim to address modern-day consumer needs. The center stack, rearview mirror and instrument cluster have been enhanced as well.

Standard: Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)
The FCA system is designed to help detect and monitor the vehicle ahead and warn the driver if a collision may be imminent. The system also initiates braking automatically. The LKA system detects the lane on the road and assists steering wheel control if the vehicle leaves the lane when the vehicle speed is over 40 mph.

Available safety /technology features:
Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with Pedestrian Detection
High Beam Assist
Rain-sensing wipers
Surround View Monitor
Smart Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go
Driver attention warning

Multimedia Systems

The 2019 Tucson is loaded with technology, including Hyundai’s latest 7-inch Display Audio system with Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ as standard equipment. Furthermore, Blue Link® Connected Car System with three years of complimentary Blue Link services is available starting with Value trim. A second row USB charger was added in the SEL trim and, to eliminate the need for a charging cord in the Limited trim, there is an available Qi wireless charging pad for compatible Android devices, as well as Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

Blue Link® Connected Car System

Tucson Blue Link-equipped models include three years of complimentary Blue Link services, with enhanced safety, diagnostic, remote and voice guidance services. Blue Link brings connectivity directly into the car with technologies like Remote Start with Climate Control, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, Car Finder, Enhanced Roadside Assistance and Stolen Vehicle Recovery. Blue Link features can be accessed via buttons on the rearview mirror, the MyHyundai.com web portal, the MyHyundai with Blue Link smartphone app, the Amazon® Alexa Blue Link skill and the Blue Link Google Assistant app. Some features can also be controlled via Android Wear™ and Apple Watch™ smartwatch apps. The latest release of the Blue Link smartphone app includes:

Widgets for easy access to remote features
Ability to send Point-of-Interest data to vehicle navigation system (if so equipped)
Access to Blue Link notification settings

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