The Hyundai Tucson was never going to be left looking out of place amidst the Korean company's more aggressively-styled SUV line-up - and so what you see here is the mid-life update of the popular mid-size SUV.
The exterior design of the updated Tucson is largely unchanged - the metalwork hasn't been altered, but there are new graphic differentiators if you take a look at the lights at either end of the SUV.
Hyundai's new cascading grille design dominates the front end, and while the shape of the headlights hasn't changed, the inlays have, and along with the new bumper there are more angular LED daytime running lights. You can tell the higher-grade versions by the horizontal slatted chrome grille, while entry models have a black honeycomb look with a silver frame.
The exterior design of the updated Tucson is largely unchanged.
Sadly, you can only get LED headlights on the top spec, but the appearance on lower grade models which run halogen projector lamps is really dumbed down by the mix of crisp white angular lights and a round, yellowy bulb in the middle.
The tail-lights are slightly different looking - again, with a different inlay, and again with LED only fitted to the top spec. The reflectors have moved up a bit, mirroring the i30's Euro-look back end.
As you may expect, there's no difference to the dimensions - it's the same size from nose to tail at 4480mm long, 1850mm wide and up to 1660mm tall (with roof rails).
Size from nose to tail comes in at 4480mm long, 1850mm wide and up to 1660mm tall (with roof rails).
No matter which model you get, there's not a sporty edge to the Tucson - you can forget about a body kit or rear diffuser, but there is a tailgate spoiler. A set of side steps could be fitted, but may be unnecessary, because the Tucson doesn't sit up that high.
You guessed it, the interior dimensions are unchanged, too. But as the interior images show, there are now different options when it comes to the colour of the leather you can get. You can choose the lighter leather as part of a 'Luxury Pack'.
Some people might like the screen being up on top of the dash, so it's in your line of sight and easier to touch-control when you're driving. Others will prefer where it used to be, down where the air-vents are now.
The controls are all well placed, the seats are comfortable and offer good adjustment, and the storage is well sorted, too - there are cupholders between the front and rear seats, bottle holders in all four doors, and loose item cubbies here and there, too, plus a wireless phone charger in the high-spec model.
There are two interior colour options on the Active X, Elite and Highlander leather-clad models, and it's tidy… but does it feel as special as a Mazda CX-5? Not quite.
The seats are comfortable and offer good adjustment.
The back seat is very roomy, considering the external dimensions of the Tucson.
The back seat is very roomy, considering the external dimensions of the Tucson aren't as big as many of its competitors. With the driver's seat set in my position (I'm 182cm tall) and myself positioned behind it, I easily have enough rear legroom to be comfortable, enough toe room to stop them from going numb, and a lot of headroom, too - even in the high-spec Highlander with the lovely panoramic glass roof.
You should be able to fit three across the back without too much hassle, and there are dual ISOFIX positions and three top-tether points. Rear air-vents are only fitted to the top two specs, which is annoying, and the top three models get a rear USB charger, but the base model misses out.
The boot storage space expands to 1478L with the seats folded down flat.
Every model has a full-size matching spare wheel under the boot floor and cargo liner (and you get a retractable cover to keep prying eyes away from your boot cargo), and the top-spec gets an electric boot lid. If you're a sales rep or have dogs, you might want to consider a barrier, which you can fit behind the rear seat.
If that's not enough size, every model comes with roof rails, so fitting a roof rack system won't be too much of a problem.
The Go has standard features such auto projector halogen headlights and LED daytime running lights.
The range then steps up to the Active X, available as a 2.0-litre FWD manual from $31,350, with a 2.0L FWD six-speed auto at $33,850, or in 2.0-litre diesel AWD form for $35,950.
The Active X gains 17-inch alloys with a matching spare tyre, tyre pressure monitoring, rear parking sensors, 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with built-in sat nav, DAB / DAB+ digital radio, eight-speaker sound system with subwoofer, leather seats, two-way electrically adjustable driver's seat with electric lumbar adjustment, heated and folding exterior mirrors, and front and rear USB power outlets.
This model also requires buyers to add the 'SmartSense' safety pack at a cost of $2200, but at least Active X buyers will know their GPS navigation system will get upgrades every time the car is serviced. Read more about ownership below.
The Elite is auto-only: the FWD 2.0L petrol lists at $37,850, or you can have it with a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol with all-wheel drive (AWD) and a seven-speed dual-clutch auto for $40,850, and the diesel-auto-AWD version is $43,850.
The Elite moves up to 18-inch alloy wheels, adds a fully powered driver's seat, smart key (not the full keyless entry set-up - you still need to push a button on the door handle) and push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, tinted windows and rear park assist as well as various aesthetic touches. This spec still has projector halogens - not even HID or xenon lamps, which is disappointing at this price tag.
Top of the range is the automatic and AWD only Highlander. It can be had with the turbo-petrol auto AWD at $46,500, or with the diesel AWD auto at $48,800. It's the premium package, if that's what you're into.
The Highlander comes equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights (which would be welcome in grades below!) and LED tail-lights, front park assist, panoramic sunroof, power passenger seat, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, powered tailgate, 4.2-inch colour LCD screen in the dash, wireless phone charging, dimming rear mirror and various aesthetic touches.
The Highlander comes equipped with 4.2-inch colour LCD screen in the dash and wireless phone charging.
Buyers can option both the Go and Active X models with the SmartSense safety pack at a cost of $2200, and that brings not only extra high-tech safety gear, but some additional desirable equipment, too.
That's on top of a traction control system with ESP, hill start assist, and hill descent control - but there's no differential lock, even on the AWD models. It also adds dual-zone climate control, a cooled glove box, electric park brake, electric folding and heated side mirrors, and puddle lamps to the base two grades.
While we don't control your purse strings, a quick glance at the models suggests it'd be a hard choice in this model comparison: Active X 2.0-litre auto with the safety pack vs the Elite 2.0-litre auto.
No model comes with a CD player, and while the infotainment system is good, its multimedia capabilities don't extend to a DVD player, either. The tech gadgets don't include 'Homelink', either (some US market models can get this smart garage door opening system).
Unlike some brands, there's no launch edition - but the company has hit showrooms with attractive drive-away prices on lower grade variants. And there's a chance an N-Line sport edition may show up before this generation model is replaced.
As for accessories, we reckon you could argue with the dealer to throw in a set of floor mats on all trim levels, and you might be able to swap rims if you ask nicely, too. If you're thinking of a light bar, bullbar, nudge bar or snorkel you might need to go to an aftermarket parts specialist.
As for colours, the Go model is available with five options: 'Aqua Blue', 'Pepper Grey', 'Phantom Black', 'Platinum Silver' and 'Pure White'. Active X and Elite models add two more options - 'Gemstone Red' and 'Sage Brown'.
The Highlander has all of the above, and adds 'Dusk Blue' and 'White Pearl'. There is no green or orange available, but you can get beige leather trim on the three higher grade models ($295).
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?
The range is pretty complex in terms of drivetrains, engine specs and ratings, but let's go through each motor in detail.
The entry-level engine is the 2.0-litre four-cylinder non-turbo petrol model, which Hyundai calls the 2.0 GDi (gasoline direct injection). It produces 122kW of power at 6200rpm and 205Nm of torque at 4000rpm, and is available with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission. It comes in FWD (4x2) only. This drivetrain has seen some tweaks for better refinement, but the changes aren't groundbreaking.
The range is pretty complex in terms of drivetrains, engine specs and ratings.
The next engine up is actually smaller in engine size, but features a turbocharger to up the horsepower - it's the 1.6 T-GDi, and it has 130kW of power (at 5500rpm) and 265Nm of torque (1500-4500rpm). It only comes with a dual-clutch automatic and AWD (the system is an on-demand unit, as opposed to a proper permanent 4WD set-up with low-range). This drivetrain is unchanged compared to the pre-facelift version.
The diesel engine on offer is the 2.0 CRDi turbo four-cylinder unit, which has 136kW (at 4000rpm) and 400Nm (1750-2750rpm). It used to be available with a six-speed auto, but now has an eight-speed automatic.
The fuel consumption of this model has dropped - more on that in the next section. The engine is Euro 5 compliant, meaning there is no AdBlue, but there is a diesel particulate filter.
So there are two petrols and a diesel, but we don't get any LPG, plug-in hybrid or EV versions of the Tucson.
No models on launch had a towbar fitted, so there's no part of this review that touches on that element of load capacity - but every model has the same towing capacity of 750kg with an un-braked trailer and 1600kg for a braked trailer. However, the towball down-weight limit differs for the front-wheel drive (120kg) and AWD models (140kg).
Gross vehicle weight, or GVM, varies depending on the model, with the base FWD Active listed at 2070kg (with a minimum kerb weight of 1497kg) and the top-spec diesel AWD Highlander listed at 2280kg (min. kerb weight: 1707kg).
Fuel economy is rated at 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres (or 12.8 kilometres per litre, if that's how you prefer it) for the petrol 2.0-litre manual FWD, while the 2.0-litre auto FWD claims 7.9L/100km (12.6km/L).
The turbocharged petrol 1.6-litre DCT AWD model has claimed consumption of 7.7L/100km (13.0km/L)
Diesel fuel consumption is improved thanks to the eight-speed auto, now rated at 6.4L/100km (15.6km/L), where it was previously 6.8L/100km (14.7km/L) for the Highlander.
All models have fuel tank capacity of 62 litres - a good size to ensure decent mileage for long-distance driving, especially if you stick to ‘Eco mode'.
There was a mix of models on offer at the launch. I drove the diesel Elite, the FWD versions of the Go and Active X, and the turbo-petrol Highlander. So I came away with a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each drivetrain - though it must be said there are no real deal breakers, here.
Let's start off with the 2.0-litre petrol drivetrain, which will account for the vast majority of Tucson sales, and has been tweaked in this iteration with peak torque coming in a little sooner. That means you don't quite need to rev it as hard to get the best out of it, but it still likes a rev.
This time around, though, the refinement has been improved, with less raucousness to it as you build revs. And while it isn't fast, it doesn't struggle to keep moving, and is more than suitable for the vast majority of peoples' needs.
If you choose the Sport drive mode the transmission seems to behave itself a bit better than it does in Eco or Comfort, holding gears a little longer - but on the steep, twisty mountain roads we were on, I chose the select gears manually (though there are no paddle shifters on any model).
There are no real deal breakers among the variants.
There are no drive modes on the Go model, so you can't quite get the same result. It's a slightly more tedious drive experience, but only if you're attacking hilly roads. On the highway and around town, you'll find little to whine about.
What's most impressive about the Tucson is its Mazda CX-5-beating drive experience: there's a great level of connection for the driver, with the steering offering natural and rewarding response (best in the lower-grade models), and the suspension dealing with lumps and bumps extremely well.
I also drove the Highlander with the 1.6T engine and DCT. There are some vehicles with these sorts of gearboxes that are more renowned for their automatic transmission problems than anything else, and you may have read some issues with Hyundai's ‘box, too. But from a test drive perspective, there's not a lot to complain about.
My steer was pretty much problem-free, though there is a chance you might find the low-speed manoeuvrability compromised, as the combo of the turbo engine and DCT can be a little laggy in terms of throttle response.
I noted that the Highlander, with its bigger wheels and low-profile tyres (245/45/19) felt a little heavier on centre when turning, and there was a bit of road noise to contend with, too. The ride, though, was nicely sorted.
What about the diesel? Well, if you can justify the expense, you will be getting the best drivetrain of the lot in the Tucson range.
My steer was pretty much problem-free.
It revs smoothly once the engine is warm, and is barely perceptible at highway pace. The new eight-speed auto shifts smoothly, and its hard to catch it in the wrong gear, with the torque of the engine easily allowing you to power out in higher gears without raising a sweat.
Now, if you're into stats and facts, here are some numbers for you: 172 = ground clearance mm; 11 turning radius metres; 2.51 = turns lock-to-lock (down from 2.71).
What about performance figures? Well, Hyundai doesn't offer up any claims for 0-100km/h acceleration or top speed, but it's fair to suggest either of the turbocharged drivetrains in Sport mode will reward the more enthusiastic driver more than the 2.0-litre will.
The roads we drove weren't exactly fit for an off road review, and these sorts of SUVs typically aren't the best candidates for a lift kit or all terrain tyres. But the damp gravel roads we found ourselves driving on were littered with pockmarks and potholes, and the Australian tuning team seems to have done a terrific job.
The ride compliance is largely very good, with the front suspension only occasionally jolting hard into sharper edges (especially in models riding on the larger alloys wheels), but the rear suspension was very well judged.
And if you want to push it hard in corners, you'll be surprised by how much each of these models will morph into a high-riding rally car - the Aussie engineers have done a terrific job of blending suspension control, compliance and comfort with accurate steering, and the end result is a rewarding drive, even in the entry-level models.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?
ANCAP safety rating
The Hyundai Tucson scored the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when it was tested back in late 2015 - and that rating remains current for the new model you see here.
That's despite the fact the previous version only saw advanced safety equipment like auto emergency braking (AEB) fitted to the top-end model. Now, however, the features available across the range include forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert… although you still have to option that stuff as a safety pack for $2200 in the lowest two grades, and you can get the safety gear in the base manual model.
The features available across the range include forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist.
Every model, though, has ISOFIX so you can fit a baby car seat (or two), and you'll be able to see what's happening behind you by way of a reverse camera, standard on all grades. There are no parking sensors on the Go model, you get rear sensors on the Active X and Elite, and the flagship Highlander adds front parking sensors - but no model has semi-autonomous park assist (self parking), and unlike some rivals, there's no surround-view camera, either.
Every Tucson has six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain).
Where is the Hyundai Tucson built? Well, unlike the pre-facelift model, all variants are now made in South Korea. The previous version saw Australian supply split between Korea and Czech Republic.
But not many can match Hyundai's service cost plan - it has a capped price servicing program that runs for the life of the car, which undoubtedly helps with resale value (so does making sure you get genuine dealership stamps in your owners manual/logbook - and that should also help you with wriggle room if you encounter problems or run into common faults, complains or issues).
Hyundai's strong reputation for ownership makes the company one of the country's best-selling brands.
Maintenance requirements are determined by the drivetrain - if you choose the petrol turbo you're in for maintenance every 12 months or 10,000km, while the non-turbo petrol and the turbo-diesel require servicing every 12 months or 15,000km.
There's some variance across the pricing for the first five years of maintenance. For the 2.0-litre petrol, the average cost is $301 over 60 months/75,000km; the 1.6-litre turbo petrol works out at $317 per visit (for 60 months/50,000km); and the diesel averages $486 per visit over 60 months/75,000km.
You can do your own research into reliability ratings, but Hyundai takes care of its customers - if you service your vehicle with them, they'll give you up to 10 years' roadside assist for free, and you'll get the same duration for map updates, too, if you need them.
Does the facelifted 2019 Hyundai Tucson change the game for the mid-size SUV segment? Not really. But it does improve an already well-rounded package.
The availability of the SmartSense safety pack on lower grades is welcome, even if some competitors offer some of the kit as standard. Even so, it'd be hard to go past the value on offer in an Active X 2.0-litre FWD model with the safety pack, which is our pick of the range - even if at least some of the safety stuff should really be standard.
What spec of Hyundai Tucson would you choose? Tell us in the comments section below.