What makes for an adventure vehicle? An ability to clamber over mountains like a mountain goat, or the ability to whisk you away from the everyday?

Hyundai’s Tucson falls somewhere in between the two extremes, and leans towards being a simple, handsome five-door SUV that complements your life rather than defines it. We’ve tested the second in the range, the Active X, and rated it on its adventure prowess. Let’s take a look.

Interesting design features

In our eyes, the Tucson is one of the most handsome cars currently on the road in any category. It’s a sign that Hyundai’s design language has really matured under its European influences, and the Tucson has the rare honour of appealing across both genders and throughout the age spectrum.

 It’s muscular yet still slender, handsome without being too masculine, and very well balanced despite it being a relatively simple shape. The interior is more workman-like than others in the category with evidence of hard plastics in plain view, while soft-touch materials are found under elbows and in other areas where body extremities can reach.

 The relatively serious grey black interior theme is cleverly offset by the subtle use of satin silver highlights, while the pale roof does belie its price point a little. No chargers or vents are supplied for that second row, but there are two ISOFIX baby seat mounts.

Cargo room is good at 488 litres, even with the full-size spare that hides underneath the boot floor.The rear seats, too, can be locked vertically to create a squared-off area for stacking boxes against it; it’s essentially like a cargo barrier if you haven’t got backseat passengers. Of course, each passenger can then recline the seat back to a favourite position, which is a nice touch. There’s plenty of headroom and toe room back there, even for our tall teenage passengers. Once the seats are flipped, there is 1478 litres of cargo space to drag along all of the accoutrements that a family collects over a weekend.

Does it offer great value for its price? What features does it include? 

Sitting second from the bottom in Hyundai’s Tucson line-up, the Active X is a clever mix of essential spec and cost trimming where it’s not necessarily needed. The single zone air-conditioning unit is complemented by satellite navigation.

 It does miss out on a couple of items including automatic wipers and the headlights are still halogen items despite the use of LED daytime running lamps, but the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as automatic headlights, serves to bring the spec level up a little more. As well, the leather-appointed seats offer more practicality than luxury, given their easy-wipe surface that’s great for young families. 

Tucson Interior 

The Tucson Active X is a great family fit with plenty of clever storage touches and useful items to get you through the day. A deep phone and wallet recess in the centre console is designed to hold inductive charges in higher models, but works perfectly well as a secure phone holder.

Cupholders of different sizes reside in the centre console, although a manual handbrake does take up more room than an electronic equivalent. Bottles up to about one litre in size can be stashed in all four doors, and those door pockets are divided to stop items sliding around. The centre console bin is tall but narrow, while rear seaters also have their own pair of cup holders in a pull-down centre arm rest.

It does miss out on rear charging points for second-row passengers, although it has a 12-volt socket in the cargo area, as well as two in the centre console and a USB port. However, the biggest blot on the Active X’s copy book is the lack of AEB as a standard item. Unlike the company’s i30, it isn’t even available in an optional safety pack, and it’s only offered on the line-topping Tucson Highlander/ It’s an odd omission from a company that’s dedicated to improving base level safety across its ranges.

What does daily driving look like

For daily driving, the Tucson Active X really excels. Its relatively small capacity, 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine matches well with Hyundai’s in-house automatic six-speed transmission for seamless forward motion. Around town the engine works perfectly well, especially in conjunction with the Tucson’s front-wheel-drive layout. Its steering is firmly weighted, too, and easy to manage.

Hyundai goes to some lengths to tweak the suspension of its cars to suit Australian roads, and the Tucson is no exception. As a rule of thumb, the local tune generally imparts a slightly firmer ride quality with less body roll, and this suits the Tucson perfectly. There’s great visibility out the front with a sloped bonnet, as well as all around the car. The Tucson’s doors open wide allowing for easy access, too. It’s just basically a lovely, simple, no-fuss car that does everything right and pretty much nothing to annoy you or your passengers.

Taking the Tucson off-road 

The Tucson is as much an adventure device as any other midsize SUV in that it offers more cargo room, a little more ride height, and a little more ruggedness than a typical sedan. However, the front-wheel-drive, relatively low-powered Active X isn’t the first car that you’d pick for an off road adventure. As we know adventuring is often about using the correct tool for the job and if you wanted to throw a little bit of scuba or mountain bike gear in the boot and traverse a graded fire road to access your favourite spot, then the Tucson would be a little tight, but can certainly manage.

If you’re on the weekend cricket or football run with your two kids and one of the neighbour’s children, then the Tucson will swallow their gear and all of their stuff without a drama. Those hard surface plastics will stand the test of time, as will the leatherette style seat covers. Its braked trailer towing capacity of 1600kg is pretty reasonable, and a downball weight limit of 120kg means that smaller camper trailers or tinnies won’t be a drama to tow.

Engine and Transmission

Hyundai’s in-house 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder combines well with Hyundai’s own traditional torque converter-equipped, six-speed automatic gearbox. While the outputs of 121kW and 203Nm are relatively modest, the engine is honest, seamless, and very linear.

The 1580kg Tucson does feel the strain when it’s loaded up, and steep inclines aren’t its best friend, but on the whole, it’s a very dependable, very faithful drive train to this category of car.

Fuel consumption 

Hyundai rates the Tucson Active X auto as consuming 7.9 litres per 100km on the combined fuel economy cycle, it’s the thirstiest Tucson in the range by a small margin. Over our 320km test loop, we recorded a dash-indicated 9.1L/100km, and a fuel top-up of 28 litres works out at 8.75L/100km. With a fuel tank capacity of 62 litres, it’s got a theoretical range of around 780km on a single tank, and it’s perfectly happy with regular unleaded fuel.

How safe is the Tucson 

As standard, the Tucson Active X has six airbags, including full-length curtain bags, as well as a rearview camera, downhill braking control and rear parking sensors.

 Although it doesn’t come with active driver aids, such as AEB or lane keep assist. This is one of Tucson’s slight downfalls, these safety aids are now common across the sector, and though the facelifted version is seen in the 2018 model. It makes current models like the Active X less appealing.

Our Verdict 

The Tucson has given Hyundai its next step forward, especially when it comes to design. It truly is one of the nicest looking rigs on the road today. It doesn’t overplay itself, but yet it also has a boldness and a confidence that makes it look good in any driveway.

 It’s a shame, though, that the Active X, as well as most models in the Tucson line-up, miss out on important safety aids like AEB, lane-keeping and blind-spot warning systems. Combined with sensible practical touches, cleverly speaking to get it to a good price-point and a low-key yet fuss-free drivetrain, though, the Tucson Active X is one of the highlights of the Tucson range.

View all Hyundai Tucson demonstrators –>HERE

Sourced: Cars Guide