There are a lot of vehicles I can imagine getting a speeding ticket in -- say maybe the eye-catching “what is that?” 2019 Kia Stinger or the Flare Yellow 2020 Lexus RC F that certainly has no trouble attracting attention. So I have to say I didn’t expect to get one in this week’s review vehicle, the 2019 Hyundai Tucson, in a hardly ticket-worthy White Pearl hue, no less. But I won’t hold my lead foot against the 5-passenger compact crossover that arrives with some important mid-cycle updates for 2019. They include a newly standard electronic parking brake with auto hold along with available Qi wireless charging along and more advanced safety features. It can be had in seven flavors: SE, Value, SEL, Sport, Night, Limited and Ultimate which is the basis for this review.
If horsepower is important to you, you’ll want to go for an upper level trim like the Ultimate for its new 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that delivers 181-horsepower and 175 lb.-ft of torque mated to 6-speed automatic (I’d wish for a 7- or 8-speed for faster, smoother shifts during acceleration.) I didn’t hear a loud engine drone when accelerating. Standard stop/start is standard for the 2.4-liter engine and I can’t say it was all that noticeable. The base model on the lower trims is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that delivers 161-horsepower. Also note, turbocharged engine is gone from the lineup this year.
Ride and Drive
The Tucson delivers a pleasant, comfortable smooth ride driving around town with nice ride height, but it’s not a terribly engaging one for the driver. (If sporty fun to drive handling is what you’re after, check out the Mazda CX-5.) The steering is on the looser side and while on the highway it had a tendency to wander (I felt like I had to continually adjust the steering.) Its size is just right for tight parking spaces. My test model is equipped with front-wheel drive but all-wheel drive is optional.
The 2019 Tucson is one of those vehicles with subdued non-polarizing style. Hyundai’s third-generation mid-cycle refresh for 2019 means a new cascading grille along with a redesigned front and rear end. The Ultimate is one of two trims to sport a chrome accented grille, chrome window beltline molding and chrome door handle as well as dual fold-away power heated outside mirrors with turn signals. The Ultimate rides on 18-inch wheels. LED headlights, daytime running lights and taillghts are standard on the four top trims, while a rear spoiler and sharkfin antenna come standard across the lineup.
The Tucson’s Ultimate interior is designed to be both functional and comfortable. Highlights include this trim’s soft-touch two-toned interior and comfortable, redesigned 8-way power leather driver’s seat with both heating and ventilation. A large panoramic sunroof also always gets my attention.
Controls on the leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic steering wheel are straight-forward and easy to use. The push-button start lights up the analog tachometer and bright, easy to read digital 4.2-inch driver display. A redesigned center stack features a 8-inch color touchscreen flanked by buttons protruding from the dash. Overall, I find Hyundai’s infotainment system intuitive, responsive and easy to navigate and like its large fonts. The Ultimate comes equipped with navigation and a new for 2019 360 degree surround view camera view. It’s missing WIFI. On the center stack you find dual zone A/C, a new for 2019 wireless charger, one USB port and two 12-volts. The center console is home to a leather gear shifter and a newly standard across the lineup electric parking brake, all within easy reach.
The Ultimate will make back seat passengers happy with reclining heated rear seats and a new USB port. A drop-down rear seat armrest reveals two cup holders.
While the cargo space fits my needs just fine, the Tucson doesn’t offer as much room in the trunk as some of its rivals like the Honda CR-V or Nissan Rogue. But you do get flexible cargo space with a two-tier cargo floor. The seats fold down in the usual 60/40 split and my test model also comes equipped with a hands-free tailgate with one 12-volt in the cargo area with. $135 carpeted floor mats are optional.
Safety gets a boost across the lineup this year. Now all Tucson’s come equipped with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keep Assist and new for 2019 Driver Attention Warning which detects driver fatigue. Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic are standard on all but the lowest trim. The Ultimate adds to that with pedestrian detection, and new for 2019 surround view monitor along with high beam assist and smart cruise control with stop and go. The Ultimate is the only trim with rain-sensing wipers.
The Tucson sits in the middle when it comes to fuel economy in its class. The 2019 FWD model with the new upper trim engine has an EPA-estimated 22 city/28 highway/25 combined. It drops to 23 mpg combined if you opt for AWD.
There are some great standard additions to the 2019 Hyundai lineup for the money. So it’s worth a look if shopping for a CUV, provided you aren’t worried about sporty handling or being class-leading when it comes to cargo space or fuel economy.
2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate
- What I liked most: Smooth powertrain, panoramic sunroof.
- What I would change: It’s less than engaging driving dynamics.
- MSRP: Base price $31,550. As equipped, $32,730.
- Fuel Economy: 22 city/28 highway/25 combined (FWD).
- Official Color: White Pearl.
- Odometer reading when tested: 6,973.
- Weight: 3,492 FWD / 3,627 AWD
- Spare Tire: Temporary spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 176.2” long/ 72.8” wide/ 65” high w/roof rails.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 16.4 gallons with the filler on the driver’s side.
- Towing Capacity: 2,000 lbs.
- 2019 Hyundai Tucson in a few words: A pleasant, subtly stylish, smooth-riding small crossover that offers comfort and utility for a good value.
- Warranty: 5-year/60,000 mile New Vehicle Warranty; 10-year/100,000 Powertrain, 7-year/Unlimited anti-perforation warranty; 5-year/Unlimited roadside assistance.
- Final Assembly: Ulsan, Korea
- Manufacturers website: Hyundai