A mild refresh keeps the Tucson sunny

Hyundai is readying its first mid-cycle refresh for the third-generation Tucson crossover. Introduced for the 2015 model year, the two-row SUV has proven extremely lucrative for the South Korean automaker, with sales blasting northward like Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 rocket. Hyundai managed to sell 114,735 examples of the Tucson in 2017 – 2.4 times the number it sold in 2014. Slow claps.

Yet; the current Tucson can’t be left to stagnate. Hyundai is wisely working on a refreshed version that is likely due for the 2019 model. If we’re lucky, we’ll see it debut sometime in 2018.

Our spy photographers captured a couple heavily camouflaged Tucson test mules running about in Germany. Both extreme winter testing and regular driving can be seen in the photos, showing just how much work automakers put into evaluating pre-production models.

Continue reading for more on the upcoming Hyundai Tucson.

Exterior

  • Updated appearance
  • More active safety technology
  • New wheel design and color choices expected
2019 Hyundai Tucson
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Yet through camo, we can see an updated mesh grille and reshaped lower fascia, both similar to other modern Hyundais

At this point, it’s hard to say for sure what Hyundai has planned for exterior updates. Yet through camo, we can see an updated mesh grille and reshaped lower fascia, both similar to other modern Hyundais like the new 2018 Elantra GT/i30 hatchback and 2018 Sonata sedan. We’re betting on a reshaped hood, too, considering the amount of camo seen in the photos.

Around to the sides, the roof, windows, side mirrors, and upper beltline appear to be unchanged. Things might be different with the door handles and lower character lines, however, Hyundai has those covered fairly well.

Out back, we can actually see some changes. The reflectors have moved from the bumper to midway up the tailgate – or at least we can see where they would go. Hyundai apparently didn’t have the plastic reflectors ready for the test mules. Updated taillights are also present. They look more intricate than before, likely thanks to them making the transition to LED bulbs.

Interior

  • Updated infotainment system
  • Improved smartphone connectivity
  • Hopefully wireless phone charging
  • Improved fit and finish
2016 - 2017 Hyundai Tucson
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Note: 2017 Hyundai Tucson pictured here.

We’re betting on a higher-resolution 8.0-inch infotainment screen with a simplified array of buttons along the bottom

Unfortunately, photos of the 2019 Tucson’s interior weren’t captured, so we don’t know what Hyundai has planned. Still, it’s not too hard to speculate.

We’re betting on a higher-resolution 8.0-inch infotainment screen with a simplified array of buttons along the bottom. Design inspiration could easily come from the updated 2017 Elantra and 2018 Sonata sedans. Included in the new design is likely a reshaped dashboard that trails away from Hyundai’s previous swoopy design language.

Count on the refreshed Tucson to have more technology, too, like active safety features and more smartphone connectivity. Of course, the Tucson will continue offering room for five people and their cargo. Currently, the Tucson offers 31 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 61.9 cubic feet with the 60/40-split bench folded flat. Hyundai could potentially increase these measurements by a slight wheelbase increase or reshaping of the cargo space.

Drivetrain

  • Expected powertrain updates for power increase
  • Improved fuel economy very likely
  • Seven-speed dual-clutch might become standard
2019 Hyundai Tucson
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As the 2019 model rolls out, we can expect to see some slight changes to the drivetrain

The Hyundai Tucson currently has two engine options. The SE, SEL, and SEL Plus trims come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The upper trims, the Value and Limited, come with Hyundai’s impressive 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. With 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, the smaller engine actually offers more power and better fuel economy.

The 2.0-liter paired with the standard front-wheel drive is EPA-estimated to get 23 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined. Moving to the 1.6-liter turbo bumps those numbers to 25,/30/27 in each category. AWD is optional with both engines. Fuel economy drops to 21/26/23 with the 2.0-liter and 24/28/25 with the 1.6-liter turbo.

Part of the 1.6-liter turbo’s fuel-sipping secret is its seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It’s tuned for fuel savings and has an extra gear compared to the conventional six-speed automatic paired with the 2.0-liter.

As the 2019 model rolls out, we can expect to see some slight changes to the drivetrain. Both engines will likely be recalibrated for slightly more fuel economy and power.

Suspension

2019 Hyundai Tucson
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The spy shots afford a good look under the refreshed Tucson’s rear bumper. It’s easy to see Hyundai is sticking with its independent multi-link rear suspension found on the current version. The rear suspension includes long lower control arms with a coil spring and outboard-mounted shock absorber. A trailing arm mounted to the subframe under the second-row floorboard extends to the upper part of the knuckle, locating it into place. Up front, MacPherson struts keep the wheels bouncing while upper and lower control arms locate the wheels.

Pricing

2019 Hyundai Tucson
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Naturally, it’s far too early to bet on exact pricing for the updated 2019 Tucson. That information won’t likely be available until a few weeks before it’s on-sale date sometime in mid- to late-2018. Still, it’s never too early to speculate.

The current 2018 Tucson starts at $22,050. Five trim levels are offered, yet starting pricing doesn’t swing as wildly as you might expect. The range-topping Limited has an MSPR of $28,950. That means there is only $6,902 difference in price from the rental-grade SE to the leather-lined Limited. That’s impressive and speaks to Hyundai’s value proposition.

We’d expect prices to rise by a few hundred on each trim level to compensate for inflation and to cover costs associated with the mid-cycle update.

Trim Level Pricing for 2018 model
SE $22,050
SEL $23,300
SEL Plus $26,200
Value $26,050
Limited $28,925

The Competition

2018 Ford Escape

2017 Ford Escape
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Ford’s compact crossover, the Escape, offers some respectable attributes in a highly competitive package. Sold by the truckloads (and at nearly three times the rate of the Tucson’s record year in 2017), the Escape comes with room for five, 67.8 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume, and three engines to choose from. The SYNC 3 Infotainment system boasts handy features like the new FordPass Wi-Fi connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and GPS navigation.

The three available engines are the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 165 horsepower, the mid-level 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 179 horsepower, or the mightily 2.0-liter EcoBoost with an impressive 245 horsepower. Both EcoBoost engines come with Auto Start/Stop. A six-speed automatic transmission is the standard gearbox regardless of engine choice.

Pricing for the 2018 Ford Escape starts at $23,850 for the rental-grade S trim, $25,605 for the SE, $28,005 for the SEL, and $32,045 for the range-topping Titanium.

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Escape.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

2018 Chevrolet Equinox High Resolution Exterior
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The Chevy Equinox has been around a while, but for the 2017 model year, it underwent a complete transformation. Now riding on a new platform and powered by new engines, the Equinox offers more space for people, cargo, and technology. The 8.0-inch MyLink infotainment system offers all the conventional stuff like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Equinox also offers the widest range of engines in modern crossovers. The base is a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 170 horsepower, a 2.0-liter turbo-four making 252 horsepower, and a class-exclusive 1.6-liter turbodiesel making 137 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. Both gasoline engines use GM’s new nine-speed automatic to power either the front or all four wheels, while the turbodiesel relies on a six-speed automatic to power the front wheels only. Fuel economy in the turbodiesel is extremely impressive, scoring an EPA-estimated 28 mpg city, 39 mpg highway, and 32 mpg combined.

Pricing for the 2018 Equinox starts at $23,580. Several trim and engine combinations give customers plenty of choices to mix á la Carte if they so choose. Check every option box and the Equinox will top out in the low $40,000. Ouch!

Read our full review on the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox.

Conclusion

2019 Hyundai Tucson
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The Hyundai Tucson represents a great value for the money in terms of people-moving, fuel economy, warranty, and purchase price. Of course, Hyundai is obviously hoping to improve on that with the upcoming 2019 model.

We’d bet on changes that center creature comforts, smartphone connectivity and changing, improved appeal, and increased power and efficiency. That will be a tall order, but Hyundai is already is a great starting place with the current Tucson. It’s not that old, anyway, having been released for the 2015 model year. A 2019 refresh would have the current iteration lasting for four years. Tack another four years onto 2019, and we can predict Hyundai will be introducing a new, fourth-generation Tucson in 2023.

  • Leave it
    • * Waiting until 2019
    • * Pricing likely to increase

References

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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