[Behind The Wheel] Revised Tucson: smoother, edgier and interactive

By Cho Chung-un

Midsized SUV dubbed as 'Song Joong-ki car' is back with refreshed design, high-tech features

  • Published : Aug 20, 2018 - 16:07
  • Updated : Aug 20, 2018 - 16:07

The midsized sport utility vehicle Tucson is the most popular Hyundai Motor product in the world. 

The South Korean carmaker sold more than 640,000 units globally last year alone -- around 8 percent of its annual sales. And such a title must have had its engineers racking their brains in order to keep its popularity afloat with a newer design and novel features. Rather than a dramatic transformation, however, Hyundai appears to have gone back to the basics. 
The new Tucson runs on the highway connecting Ilsan and Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province, during a media session Friday. (Hyundai Motor)

The South Korean auto giant has introduced an eight-speed automatic transmission for diesel variants to the revised version of its favorite SUV, seeking to make the driving experience smoother and more comfortable.

Not only does the transmission improve fuel efficiency, it also reduces noise and vibration, according to officials. And it surely did.

“Stability” is the word to summarize the 40-kilometer test-drive for Korean media Friday. The all-wheel drive 2.0 liter diesel SUV excelled in cornering, with tighter suspension and steering. Speeding up on the highway connecting Ilsan and Uijeongbu, northern Gyeonggi Province, was quite satisfactory, though it required pressing the accelerator a couple of times in order to reach 140-150 kilometers an hour. But climbing the hill was not fun -- the power seemed insufficient to support the four-wheel drive and move the heavy body of the SUV.

Lee Seung-youn, Hyundai’s designer, said her team didn’t really try to change the overall design, but wanted to highlight high-tech elements of the vehicle. Of course, Hyundai’s new cascading grille was a must, but a new skid plate and revised fog lamp pods stole attention, lending it a smarter and edgier appearance.

The fun factor inside was quite interesting. The revised model of the third-generation Tucson added a new infotainment tablet featuring Android Auto connectivity.

Also, in collaboration with a local telecom giant KT, Hyundai has made the revised Tucson controllable through an artificial intelligence-operated speaker.

“Hey Genie” is the magic word to turn the engine even before leaving home or office. The driver names the security code and after that the AI speaker transfers the mission to the vehicle, so that it could turn the engine by itself.
The engine is on for two minutes, for security and environmental reason, the company said. 

The voice recognition system allows drivers and passengers to send text message and choose music of their choices. It sometimes converses with the drive, such as reading poetry. It’s quite amazing, but the service appears to be not available overseas, as it requires collaboration with local partners, such as Alexa of Amazon.

The engine of Tucson 2019 Diesel 2.0 HTRAC model tested during the media session produces 186 horsepower with peak torque of 41 kilograms-force per meter, consuming 12.4-13.1 kilometers per liter.

Hyundai plans to launch the latest Tucson, nicknamed "Song Joong-ki car" due to its appearance in a hit TV drama "Descendants of the Sun" in September in China, and November or December in US.

Prices start from 24.3 million won ($21,700) and 29.65 million won for diesel and gasoline models.

By Cho Chung-un (

The Korea Herald rating (out of 5 stars):

Design: 4 stars
Safety: 4 stars
Gas Mileage: 4 stars
Price: 4 stars
Overall: 16/20