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Hyundai Tucson Active 2017 review: long term

Richard Berry is spending six months living with the entry-level Active version of the Tucson SUV.

Usually when we road test a car we start with a vehicle that's been carefully prepared and properly run-in with a couple of thousand kilometres on the clock. We put it through its paces, live with it for a week and then hand it back. 

MORE: Read the full Hyundai Tucson 2017 review

This time things are different. Hyundai created the opportunity for this Tucson experience to begin with a roll of sheet steel at Hyundai's plant in the Czech Republic. Editor Mal walked it along the line where he helped build it before it was shipped to Melbourne. 

This is where I stepped in. Picking it up straight off the boat from at Melbourne holding compound with seven kilometres on the odo and heading straight to Sydney to kick off our long-term test.

Other Tucson variants

2016 Hyundai Tucson Active X review | road test video

Hyundai Tucson 30th Anniversary Special Edition 2016 review | road test

Hyundai Tucson Elite AWD 2016 review | road test

Hyundai Tucson Highlander CRDi diesel auto 2017 review | road test

Sure we have already spent six months with a Tucson, but it was the Active X variant. Mine is the entry grade Active, with the base-spec 114kW/192Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine and cloth seats - not leather. It's also the most affordable Tucson (apart from the manual version) with a list price of $31,090. Could the entry-spec Tucson be all you really need? That's what we want to find out.

A family holiday to Pearl Beach in NSW was a good test of the Tucson’s 488-litre boot capacity.

The CarsGuide welcoming party in Melbourne consisted of Tom and myself and together we drove The Tucson Mal Built back to Sydney via some essential tourist stops.

First stop Glenrowan where Ned Kelly was felled, Carols by Candlelight in Albury, Holbrook and its very lost submarine and the Big Merino. All 900-or-so kays back were seamless and full of Tom's trivia as the dashboard filled up with souvenir trinkets. 

The seats proved to be comfortable and supportive, the ride was composed. If only the headlights were better – even with the high beams we struggled to see in darker stretches of the Hume. And as we tried to introduce each other to our different music tastes, all we really could agree on was that the stereo system isn't that great. 

Given our Active was box-fresh, Hyundai's technician did give us a bit of advice to gently run it in. Basically we were told to avoid cruising at a steady 110km/h for too long on the highway, but rather fluctuate the speed occasionally. This ensures the pistons bed with the bore more evenly. You shouldn't drive like this all the time as it'll play havoc with your fuel economy, just when the engine is brand new.

Back home in Sydney the Tucson has become the Berry family car doing the daycare drop offs, trips to the supermarket, commutes to work, Christmas shopping and two separate birthdays.

Perhaps the best endorsement for the Tucson's Aussie-tuned ride and handling was for my wife to balance a whale-shaped cake on her lap while I tried to drive as quickly as possible to set up my son’s birthday party in a park. The whale survived but I almost dropped it when a huntsman clinging to the roof racks scuttled into the Tucson when we climbed out.

A family holiday to Pearl Beach in NSW was a good test of the Tucson’s 488-litre boot capacity (and family relationships) and then having to bring back a brother in-law on crutches (don’t ask) meant even more luggage - the Tucson coped fine. 

We've found the tailgate is tough to pull shut though, the gas struts seem super stiff - and despite my Viking ancestry I find it a challenge to do it with one arm. The struts may lose a bit of pressure over time - we'll let you know.

For the first month we calculated an average fuel consumption of 9.5L/100km at the pump which is quite a bit higher than Hyundai's official combined 7.9L/100km, but I'm putting it down to running in the new engine and my lead foot. 

Still no sign of the huntsman. But I know he’s in there somewhere... waiting.

2017 Hyundai Tucson Active

Acquired: December 2016
Distance travelled this month: 1574km
Odometer: 1581km
Average fuel consumption for December/January: 9.5L/100km (measured at the pump)

March 1, 2017

To The Drongo That Sideswiped Our Parked Tucson And Fled Without Leaving A Note,

Do you realise how close we’ve become with Terry the Tucson? We travelled to the other side of the world to help build it, we were there for its birth, we met it in Melbourne after it spent weeks at sea on a boat and drove it all the way home to Sydney… just so you could then crash into it. 

Do you realise you hit it so hard part of your indicator is still stuck to Terry's side? The karma police have been notified.

Anyway, it’s only a superficial wound, and Terry is now at the repairer having the right rear guard fixed.

That was a pretty ordinary end to what was a good month with our long term Tucson which began with us having to take it back to Hyundai for its routine 1500km/one month service. In this first service (which was over before we could finish our coffee) the oil levels, brake fluid, hose connections, drive belt condition and transmission operation are checked. The headlights, battery, seatbelts and the overall appearance and condition of the vehicle are also examined. 

While we didn’t cover anywhere near the number of kays we did last month, the Tucson has seen its fair share of adventures. Like the time I folded all the seats flat and put a tarp down so I could do a trip to the tip only to realise the bags of gardening waste also had red back spiders in them. It’s OK, I think I got them all. 

Then there was the time I took the family to a farm that city people go to so their children can pet real animals. Edgar milked a cow, chased chickens and worried goats. Then he fell asleep with the packet of animal feed in his hand in the back of the Tucson and it went everywhere, but it also vacuumed up without a trace.

  • The Berry family realises it has another four months with the Tucson The Berry family realises it has another four months with the Tucson
  • Spider spreading tarps not included in standard spec Spider spreading tarps not included in standard spec
  • Off-road front door testing has been exhaustive Off-road front door testing has been exhaustive
  • No goats were harmed in the testing of this vehicle No goats were harmed in the testing of this vehicle
  • Post-drongo damage Post-drongo damage

Actually, many of those kilometres were spent just trying to get our toddler to sleep – he nods off in the Tucson really well, partly because the ride is so comfortable and doesn’t jolt him awake, but also because I think the window sills are so high he can’t see out and is just bored looking at the door.

I’m beginning to think that if we were to buy a Tucson we probably wouldn’t get this base model Active (not because we’ve now trashed it). We’d probably opt for the next grade up, the Active X, because the Active's lack of tinting on the rear windows means it’s vital to use a sun shade on Ed’s window.

That and the fact the Active X also has the more powerful 121kW/203Nm petrol engine. Not that there’s anything wrong with the 114kW/192Nm four-cylinder petrol in the Active – it just lacks a bit of oomph and you really have to put your foot down to get it to hurry up.

Still, it has been easy and enjoyable to drive this month. Looking forward to getting Terry back from the smash repairer.

Acquired: December 2016
Distance travelled this month: 473km
Odometer: 2054
Average fuel consumption for the month: 13.9L/100km (trip computer)
Spiders: One huntsman and unknown red backs

April 5, 2017

Terry is back. Yup, in the last instalment of this long-term review, while it was innocently parked, Terry, our Hyundai Tucson Active, was sideswiped by an unknown drongo who not only displayed an inability to drive but also to write a note.

The damage was contained to the right rear guard, but this wasn’t going to hold us back, and before you could say, “I wonder if there’s CCTV footage?” Terry was in and out of the smash repairers and looking close to new again.

  • To me, the damage looked sort of minor. To me, the damage looked sort of minor.
  • A lot went into repairing what seemed like a minor flesh wound. A lot went into repairing what seemed like a minor flesh wound.
  • Terry, repaired and ready for duty. Terry, repaired and ready for duty.
  • Visiting the grandparents in Maitland. Visiting the grandparents in Maitland.
  • The calm before the temper tantrum. The calm before the temper tantrum.
  • How far I now park from the edge of the road. How far I now park from the edge of the road.

To me, the damage looked sort of minor. A decent flesh wound but not something that would require major surgery. Still, even something this small necessitated removal of the rear bumper, the tail-light, the wheel itself, the wheel arch flare, the right rear door and the boot trim to access the wheel arch from the interior.

Damaged or missing parts were replaced, and then it was into the spray booth for new paint.

A week later the body repairer called to say Terry was ready for duty again. Side note for you, the Tucson came back clean - like seriously clean inside and out. The interior was so free from sand and biscuit and peanut butter and rice cakes that I honestly thought that Hyundai had actually switched it for a different Tucson. The only proof was the VIN and my toddler's dinosaur in the glovebox.

Despite only having the Tucson back for a couple of weeks we’ve still managed to put almost 800 clicks on it.

A highlight was visiting the grandparents in Maitland which involved stopping for pies. You’ll notice how in the pie photo everybody looks happy, and we were. But this was the calm before the temper tantrum tornado, not from the two year old – from me – I asked for a beef pie and somehow ended up with chicken.

Post the accident, you’ll also notice how far I now park from the edge of the road.

Acquired: December 2016
Distance travelled this month: 766km
Odometer: 2820km
Average fuel consumption for the month: 8.6L/100km (trip computer)
Spiders: No more spiders... at least we hope there aren't.

May 9, 2017

Our Active has already experienced an Australian Christmas and New Year's Eve, four family birthdays and most recently its very first crash (see above). This month Terry Tucson had its first Easter which meant a trip to the in-laws for the annual exchange of chocolate.

But first a birthday party in mid-April involved giving two mates a lift home from out in the sticks after the last train had left. That meant four fully grown adults and a toddler in a car seat all together in the Tucson – for an hour-and-a-half.

So much stuff for just one trip to the in-laws: a pram, toys, salads, nappies, changes of clothes for all weather, chocolate and birthday presents. So much stuff for just one trip to the in-laws: a pram, toys, salads, nappies, changes of clothes for all weather, chocolate and birthday presents.

In the past, I've been accused of assuming things are bigger than they actually are and when I said: “Hell yeah, there's heaps of room in the Tucson” as I was leaving the party, I didn't realise that push would indeed come to shove in reality. It was fine, though… for me up front.

Back to Easter. Adding more complexity to Easter Egg Day was another birthday – my Dad's. The man who has everything including a wall of knives – but that's another story.

Adding insult to injury, I left all the chocolate egg and birthday present buying until the morning of the big day which was Easter Monday. Believe it or not, that wasn't a good idea. I was laughed out of two supermarkets for asking where their Easter eggs had gone. They take them off the shelves on Sunday night if you want to know.

In a blind panic I drove all over Sydney on the worst kind of Easter egg hunt imaginable with a grumpy two year old in the back while my wife called me wanting to know where I was. I found a football-sized egg with Egg-osaurus written on its box and returned home to find my wife had made neat little goodie bags filled with small eggs she had stashed somewhere. She said there was no way we could give Egg-osaurus to four people and expect them to share it.

Eggosaurus! The last egg in Sydney. Eggosaurus! The last egg in Sydney.

With salads balancing on her knees and me behind the wheel again, we all went in search for my Dad's present. Luckily he's a motorbike-loving, T-shirt-wearing guy and I knew where to go.

It was the kind of day where you need to be everywhere and you're so focused on just completing the list of tasks that the car becomes merely a big metal suit you wear to make it all happen. Darting through carparks, finding spaces, throwing it from reverse into drive, checking mirrors and reversing cameras frantically, wrestling a chocolate-raging child in and out, and making it to the in-laws in one piece and on time-ish with toddler and salads intact. The Tucson performed perfectly. The only hint that it had been working hard was the fuel economy which had changed from an indicated 8.6L/100km average last month to 11.0 this month.

Richard had left the egg and present shopping until the morning of the big day. His wife was impressed. Richard had left the egg and present shopping until the morning of the big day. His wife was impressed.

My son has also developed a fixation with wanting to drive the Tucson. Which is never going to happen because he's a shocking driver. Still, he runs for the driver's door every time we go anywhere and I have to put him on my lap in the car in the driveway until he gets it out of his system. That he hasn't torn the windscreen wiper stalks off yet is testimony to how damned well put together Terry is.

Edgar wants to drive - always. He's not allowed, because he's terrible at it. Edgar wants to drive - always. He's not allowed, because he's terrible at it.

That night I sat on the couch and ate Egg-osaurus on my own. Best Easter ever.

Acquired: December 2016
Distance travelled this month: 277km
Odometer: 3097km
Average fuel consumption for the month: 11.0L/100km (trip computer)
Spiders: None seen, but still checking sun visor upon entry

June 9, 2017

We’re going through a new phase of appreciation of the Tucson. We’re going through a new phase of appreciation of the Tucson.

Our time in Terry the long-term Tucson is drawing to a close and with just a few more weeks to go now we’re beginning to get that end of the holidays feeling… That and the dread of knowing I’m going to have clean up six-months of a full-scale Berry family attack. Terry is pretty dirty right now inside and out – but I see it as a badge of honour, like a mud splattered soldier, only it's yoghurt and banana.

Anyway, we’re going through a new phase of appreciation of it – especially when it can do things better than some of the more expensive and fancy cars that I road test.

There have been gorgeous sports cars five times the price of the Tucson that have been abandoned in our driveway some days because taking the Tucson is so much easier and more useful. It’s easier to put our toddler into the Tucson with its wide-opening rear doors and elevated ride height. We know the boot fits all of our gear including the pram and we know we can change a nappy on the boot floor if we need to.

The higher spec Elite and Highlander in the Tucson range don’t come with Apple CarPlay. The higher spec Elite and Highlander in the Tucson range don’t come with Apple CarPlay.

The other reason we’re almost always taking the Tucson is Apple CarPlay – it’s an app which mirrors your iPhone’s functions onto the car’s display and not every car comes with it. Actually the higher spec Elite and Highlander in the Tucson range don’t come with Apple CarPlay – it’s only on the Active and Active X.

I now rate it so highly that when we buy our next family car Apple CarPlay will be on the must-have list. What’s so good about it? 

For starters there's maps from your phone combined with Siri. A trip to some Sunday markets we hadn’t ever been to was made so much easier by just asking Siri where the markets were in the suburb we were going to – she not only knew the markets, but then opened maps and directed us there. When we arrived my iPhone put a drop pin on my maps to tell me where we’d left the car.

Being able to stream music through Spotify has won me over, too. Being able to stream music through Spotify has won me over, too.

Then there’s voice messages – I can voice text while driving and then hear my texts. Being able to stream music through Spotify has won me over, too.

Why isn’t Apple CarPlay on the higher Tucson specs? Well they come with built in sat nav as standard so that may possibly be the reason behind the decision not to fit it to those cars.

I’m going to miss Dirty Terry.

Acquired: December 2016
Distance travelled this month: 277km
Odometer: 3097km
Average fuel consumption for the month: 11.0L/100km (trip computer)

August 3

Well this is it. The Hyundai Tucson Active that has lived with us since December 2016 has finished its tour of duty as our long-term test car.

The adventure began at the Tucson’s Czech Republic assembly plant where we helped build it before it was shipped to Australia. 

Tom and I formed a lacklustre welcoming party for its arrival into Melbourne, but we made amends by giving the Tucson a crash course in Australiana, visiting as many tourist ‘must-do’ stops as possible on the way back to Sydney.

For the past seven months it’s been a part of my family. We even named it… Terry. During that time I’ve driven and road tested almost all the Tucson’s competitors - the Mazda CX-5, Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, and the Ford Escape

For the past seven months it’s been a part of my family. For the past seven months it’s been a part of my family.

How does the Tucson rate in comparison? Well, I’d have to live with the others for seven months to be fair, but I can say the Tucson is up against fierce competition, that gets better with each update.

See, a week-long test is what we normally give a review car, and while you learn a lot, it’s not quite like living with it for half a year.

So what did we like and what didn’t we like? Let’s start with the dislikes. 

First, the Tucson Active doesn't have tinted windows in the back, and that meant resorting to a sun shade to keep our young son happy. 

Next is the weak projector beam headlights. While they're fine around the city at night, they struggle on dark country roads. Tom and I first picked up on this on the way back from Melbourne, where, at 110km/h, the midnight run up the Hume challenged them.

Another frustration is the fact only the top-spec Tucson is fitted with advanced safety equipment, which admittedly, is common practice in the category (although things are changing quickly). Sure, not fitting AEB to the lower grades keeps prices as low as possible, but it's still disappointing.

That brings us to our final dislike – the Active grade lacks a ‘special’ feel. The cloth seats feel budget, there are a lot of hard plastics around the interior, and little luxuries like directional air vents for the rear passengers are absent.

Our list of likes is a lot longer. Apple CarPlay get a thumbs up. It means the lack of sat nav is covered by maps from your phone, plus there’s voice messaging, and most of the phone’s other functions are mirrored to the multimedia display, too.

Then there's how easy the Tucson is to drive. The 114kW/192Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine has plenty of oomph, and the smooth six-speed automatic transmission is a refreshing change after driving numerous SUVs with droning CVTs and jerky dual clutch transmissions. Combined with great visibility, light and accurate steering, plus a comfortable ride, it means the car isn’t at all taxing to drive.

At 4475mm end-to-end the Tucson isn't hard to park. At 4475mm end-to-end the Tucson isn't hard to park.

The Tucson’s size is another big plus for us. The Berry family lives in the inner city, where residents fighting over parking spaces resembles seagulls diving in for a hot chip, and the spots are rarely big. But at 4475mm end-to-end the Tucson isn't hard to park, and slips into most spaces easily. 

On the inside, there’s plenty of room, with good storage spaces, and the 488-litre boot is big enough to hold the bike, the scooter, the pram, the picnic rug, overnight luggage for the grandparents, and the nappy change bag.

Finally, I never tired of its looks. Actually, I grew more fond of its pretty headlight styling, tough looking grille, sleek profile, and the clean lines of the tailgate. Although, as you can see from the pictures, my hot rod builder mate Ben thought it could do with a chop to lower the roof a little.

What did we do in our last month with Terry? All the important stuff. We went to a fifth birthday, had a dad and son day, and took a trip to Motorex (with pies afterwards). And that's along with all the shopping, daycare runs, and visits to the grandparents.

My hot rod builder mate Ben thought it could do with a chop to lower the roof a little. My hot rod builder mate Ben thought it could do with a chop to lower the roof a little.

Goodbye Terry, we’re going to miss having you around.

Acquired: December 2016
Distance travelled this month: 525km
Odometer: 4386km
Average fuel consumption for the month: 12.9/100km (trip computer)
Spiders: 0 (we think)

Do you have any questions for Richard about the Active? Let us know in the comments below.

Read the full Hyundai Tucson 2017 review

Pricing Guides

$24,990
Based on 364 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$19,390
Highest Price
$46,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
30 SPECIAL EDITION 1.6L, ULP, 7 SP AUTO $25,520 – 31,570 2017 HYUNDAI TUCSON 2017 30 SPECIAL EDITION Pricing and Specs
Active (FWD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $20,900 – 22,999 2017 HYUNDAI TUCSON 2017 Active (FWD) Pricing and Specs
ACTIVE R-SERIES (AWD) 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $25,888 – 29,990 2017 HYUNDAI TUCSON 2017 ACTIVE R-SERIES (AWD) Pricing and Specs
ACTIVE R-SERIES (FWD) 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $24,987 – 29,990 2017 HYUNDAI TUCSON 2017 ACTIVE R-SERIES (FWD) Pricing and Specs
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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