Will Updated Looks Be Enough To Keep the Hyundai Tucson Competitive in 2016?

What changes will make it different?

From what we’ve learned so far, the major upgrades will center on the styling of this compact SUV. The styling of the model-year 2015 version has few detractors, but Hyundai is a company that rarely stands still for too long, and the redesign is expected to make the Tucson look even more radical than its counterparts from European manufacturers. Hyundai’s Genesis and Sonata sedans offer plenty of clues regarding the look of the next-generation Tucson, with a redesigned grille that is expected to be complemented by tapered headlights and LED accents that will give a wider, more aggressive feel to the front end. Hyundai Motor America’s CEO Dave Zuchowski has said that the model-year ’16 vehicle will provide buyers with better handling and steering, as well as technology that is at least the equal of more upscale brands.

Why should I wait for the 2016?

When Hyundai redesigns a vehicle, the improvements over its predecessor are generally noticeable, and indications are that this is the case here. If you are the sort of buyer who likes to have the very best and latest thing available, you’ll want to wait for model-year ’16. A substantially new look may not be to everyone’s taste, but there’s little evidence to suggest the automaker will do anything but improve upon an already exceptional vehicle.

Should I buy a 2015 instead?

If the somewhat lackluster powertrains were being replaced, then that would be another good reason to wait for model-year ’16. However, it appears that the engines will largely carry over, which means that a good deal on a model-year 2015 make it something to consider.

Will the styling be different?

As we said, yes. Although the model-year ’15 version remains a popular buy, it is already starting to look a little dated compared to some of the competition. As well as having a more modern and aggressive exterior look, the interior should seem slightly more luxurious.

Any mechanical changes?

There will be improvements to the ride quality, handling and steering, which suggests an overhaul of the mechanicals. There’s also the promise of better safety equipment, a trend in the industry as a whole.

Will fuel economy improve?

There’s a lot of speculation about the introduction of diesel models in the United States, with the Tucson being a prime candidate. This may seem like somewhat of a backward step for the Korean automaker, especially since it already has a hydrogen fuel-cell version in its global armory. But a diesel model would offer improved fuel economy, and the big German manufacturers like Volkswagen and Audi have been having success lately on this front. Even though the bulk of the engines will carry over, we should still expect them to be retuned to offer at least a modest boost in gas mileage.

Will it have new features?

You get plenty of standard features on just about every model from Hyundai, and the company is promising that the model-year ’16 Tucson will contain significantly more equipment and technological goodies than before. It already has Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, keyless entry, a USB port, satellite radio and more, even at the entry level. Since satellite navigation units are so cheap to buy these days and some manufacturers are starting to make them standard on more vehicles, don’t be surprised if that’s an addition to the package.

How will 2016 prices be different?

We should get a lot more vehicle in model-year 2016, which would seem to equate to a price increase. However, there hasn’t been much of an appetite for such moves among mass-market manufacturers, and Hyundai has a reputation for great value to uphold. Therefore, don’t expect an increase of more than a few hundred dollars.

What Is the Expected Release Date?

It should hit showrooms around the fall of 2015.

Best competitors

Kia Sportage, Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V

What change would make it better?

The styling definitely needs more bang, especially when compared to offerings like the Ford Escape. But it seems as if that shortcoming is being addressed. And everything else we would want from a Tucson will be on display, including better road manners, more equipment and improved safety. It would be nice to see a model that really sets a new standard in this segment regarding fuel economy. A hybrid or plug-in hybrid that offers the same level of capability as gasoline models would be exceptionally welcome.

Quick hit

Hyundai is already telling us that it is planning to substantially increase the Tucson allocation in the United States for model-year 2016, possibly even doubling it. The costs and the logistics involved with that are substantial, which means that the ’16 model could be something truly special. So keep an eye out for forthcoming details about this compact SUV. We could be talking about a game-changer.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]