The 2015 Hyundai Tucson isn’t your typical jack-of-all-trades compact crossover. Hyundai also has a larger affordable crossover, the Santa Fe Sport, so the Tucson doesn’t have to be everything to everyone. Instead, the 2-row Tucson trades on its tidy dimensions, which give it an unusually nimble, sporty feel. It’s a crossover for folks who aren’t ready for a hulking family vehicle just yet.
Don’t get us wrong, the Tucson still provides enough room for four full-sized passengers to ride in comfort. And while cargo capacity is unimpressive by segment standards, there’s a useful amount of space when you fold down the rear seatbacks. Our only consistent complaint concerns what’s under the hood: The base 2.0-liter engine fails to provide confident passing power, even with a recent overhaul that added direct fuel injection. The 2.4-liter engine is the pick of the litter, though fuel economy isn’t stellar either way.
Overall, the Tucson remains one of the more pleasant crossovers at this price. It’s up to date in most respects, and its manageable size makes it an enticing alternative to larger rivals.
What’s New for 2015?
The Tucson adds a Popular Equipment package for the GLS model that includes a touchscreen interface and a power driver’s seat.
What We Like
Compact dimensions; responsive handling; surprisingly roomy back seat; distinctive styling; strong value
What We Don’t
Middling acceleration; so-so fuel economy; max cargo space is relatively limited
The Tucson GLS features a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 164 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. The SE and Limited get a 2.4-liter unit that’s good for 182 hp and 177 lb-ft. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard on every 2015 Tucson, as is front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is a $1,500 option.
Fuel economy with front-wheel drive checks in at 23 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway for the 2.0-liter engine and 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy for the 2.4-liter engine. With all-wheel drive, those numbers drop to 21 mpg city/25 mpg hwy and 20 mpg city/25 mpg hwy, respectively.
Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Hyundai Tucson is offered in three trim levels: GLS, SE and Limited.
The GLS ($22,545) comes with the 2.0-liter engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlight accents, a rear spoiler, cloth upholstery, air conditioning, power accessories, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, reclining and split folding rear seatbacks, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel with auxiliary audio controls and a 6-speaker sound system with iPod/USB integration and satellite radio.
The SE ($24,595) adds the 2.4-liter engine, automatic headlights, fog lights, heated exterior mirrors, side-body cladding, roof rails, a 4.3-in touchscreen, an 8-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, cloth and leatherette upholstery, illuminated front vanity mirrors and floor-mounted rear climate vents.
The Limited ($27,345) boasts 18-in wheels, chrome exterior accents, keyless entry with push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink, Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics suite, a rearview camera, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a retractable cargo cover.
Limited options include LED taillights, a panoramic sunroof, a 7-speaker premium sound system, HD Radio and a revised navigation system with a 7-in touchscreen. The GLS is eligible for a Popular Equipment package that adds the automatic headlights, a rearview camera, a power driver’s seat, cloth and leatherette upholstery, and a 4.3-in touchscreen.
The 2015 Hyundai Tucson comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, active front head restraints and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain). Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics, standard on the Limited, provides enhanced emergency assistance, stolen vehicle recovery and much more.
In government crash-testing, the Tucson garnered four stars out of five overall, including four stars for front impacts and five stars for side impacts. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Tucson its highest rating of Good in every category except the small-overlap front test, where it earned a Poor rating.
Behind the Wheel
It’s refreshing to hop into a Tucson and remember how fun a genuinely compact crossover can be. With its 103.9-in wheelbase and 173.2-in overall length, the Tucson is actually smaller than the compact Elantra sedan, so it’s no wonder that this thing drives like a hatchback on its tiptoes. The Tucson does ride rather firmly, but we’re not offended. Impact harshness rarely registers, and the payoff is that this little crossover can actually dance in the curves. Road noise can be an issue, however. There are definitely quieter crossovers in this class.
Other Cars to Consider
2015 Kia Sportage — Mechanically similar to the Tucson, the Sportage boasts more angular styling and the availability of an awesome turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder.
2016 Mazda CX-5 — Mazda’s new compact crossover goes toe-to-toe with the Tucson across the board, and it’s even more fun to drive.
2015 Volkswagen Tiguan — If you’re considering the Tucson Limited, know that the same money could get you into a decently equipped Tiguan, and the VW is both faster and generally nicer.
Used Hyundai Santa Fe Sport — The 1-size-up Santa Fe Sport offers more space and turbocharged power, and Hyundai’s certified pre-owned program can get you into a low-mileage example for the price of a new Tucson.