Compact crossovers have become some of the most popular choices in the global automotive market. The taller ride height, the more spacious interiors, the SUV looks and reasonable fuel economy all contributed to how crossovers have almost supplanted many midsize cars and became the preferred do-it-all transport for the family.

For the last 6 years, Hyundai has been fielding the second generation Tucson. The model immediately surged to the head of the pack, racking up sales thanks to its design, practicality, the engine choices, the features and competitive pricing.

Now Hyundai has a new challenger into the compact crossover SUV segment with the new generation 2016 Tucson, and to see what it can do, Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI) organized a media drive from Ilo-ilo to one of the best tropical destinations in the world, the island of Boracay.

The 2016 Hyundai Tucson

Upon arriving at Roxas city, one can’t help but notice the Tucson’s new exterior design. It’s clear that Hyundai gave the 2016 Tucson a thorough makeover by incorporating the brand’s Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design philosophy as seen on the vehicle’s bold and athletic appearance.

Up front, the 2016 Tucson looks more aggressive as compared to its predecessor. The models we will be driving do not have their final specifications yet, but this third generation Tucson gets restyled blacked-out LED headlights, a large chrome-plated hexagonal grill, a revamped bumper and new fog lamp design.

Turning at the side, the 2016 Tucson is characterized by sharp lines, prominent wheel arches and refreshed exterior mirrors. It is finished off with 17-inch or an optional 18-inch alloy wheels.

Rear of the 2016 Hyundai Tucson

The rear of the 2016 Tucson is fitted with sharper-looking combination taillights, a roof-mounted spoiler and a larger rear bumper. It also has massive reflector lights, a third brake light and twin tip exhaust pipes.

In terms of dimensions, the all-new Tucson is longer by 65mm and wider by 30mm along with an increased wheelbase of 30mm. Overall, the 2016 Tucson is 4475mm long, 1850mm wide and 1655mm tall and has a 2670mm wheelbase.

2016 Hyundai Tucson interior

Inside, design tweaks can be seen on the 2016 Tucson’s dashboard, steering wheel, aircon vents, instrument cluster and center console. The 2016 Tucson comes with 10-way driver and 8-way passenger power adjustment seats. It also has a three-spoke steering wheel with audio mounted controls, a 4.2-inch TFT instrument cluster as well as glossy black and silver accents. In addition, the top spec variant of the 2016 Tucson comes with a panoramic sunroof.

Under the hood, the Tucson is powered either by a 2.0 MPi gasoline engine that delivers 157 PS and 196 Nm of torque or a 2.0 CRDi diesel engine that generates 178 PS and 402 Nm.

The Road to Boracay

The drive was divided into three parts so that participants would get the chance to get behind the wheel of the Tucson 2WD Gas, 2WD CRDi and 4WD CRDi variants, all of which get six-speed automatic transmissions.

2016 Hyundai Tucson drive

The first leg was a 65km drive from the quarry site in Roxas, Capiz onto Balete in Aklan. During this part, we hopped on-board the 2WD Gas variant of the 2016 Tucson. Of note, the 2016 Tucson features three driving modes: Normal, Eco and Sport. For this leg, we opted to use the Normal driving mode. As we made our way onto Aklan’s national highway, the power from the Tucson’s 2.0 MPi gasoline engine is decent and the six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Power kicks in between the 3000 and 3500 rpm mark and overtaking slower vehicles is done with good measure. We noticed that Hyundai gave a lot of attention in improving the Tucson’s NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) as road noise is reduced to a minimum, giving a quiet driving experience.

Upon reaching our first stop in Balete, Aklan the 2WD Gas variant yielded a fuel economy of 8 km/l while running at an average speed of 40 km/h. Take note that the fuel economy ratings we will get on this drive will just be preliminary figures. Expect us to come out with our official figures when we do the full test drive of the 2016 Hyundai Tucson.

After the gas variant, we were assigned to drive the 2WD CRDi Tucson. The second leg was a 50km drive from Baleta into Ibajay town. Unlike the first Tucson we drove, this 2WD CRDi variant delivers quicker acceleration and engine response. The power and torque pull can be felt between 2500 to 3000 rpm and the transmission shifts smoothly. Overtaking is done swiftly and easily. Moreover, the improved NVH minimizes the noise coming from the vehicle’s diesel engine.

The handling and steering feel of the 2016 Tucson stood out as we made our way into winding roads and rural traffic. As for the suspension, the 2016 Tucson showed adaptability on different terrain. The McPherson struts in front and the multi-link rear suspension work nicely to absorb the uneven road surface giving a comfortable ride. In terms of fuel economy, the 2WD CRDi variant registered 12 km/l at an average speed of 50 km/h.

Tucson in festive atmosphere

For the last leg, we hopped on board the 4WD CRDi variant of the Tucson and embarked on a 35km drive to reach Caticlan. During this leg, we decided to mix things up by engaging the Tucson’s Sport mode. As a result, the Tucson became more sprightly as the transmission shift at higher, more performance-oriented RPM. Furthermore, Sport mode sharpens the Tucson’s throttle response, allowing the diesel engine to accelerate more quickly. Half-way during the leg, we engaged the Normal driving mode once again. Similar to the other variants, this 4WD Tucson has good handling and steering feel. On the highway stretches, power and acceleration can instantly be felt even in the Normal driving mode. When it comes to fuel economy, the 4WD Tucson registered 10 km/l while running at an average speed of 35 km/h.

The Tucson was a neat and safe drive, though I do wish it had more excitement to it. Of course being a crossover doesn't place much emphasis on agility, though I do wish it came with paddle shifters so I could change gears without having to take my hands off the wheel.

Nevertheless, it’s evident that Hyundai has a contender in the competitive crossover SUV segment. Through the vehicle’s design makeover and improved driving dynamics, the 2016 Tucson could very well become another great offering in the segment when HARI formally launches it later this year.

Addressing the negative impact of climate change

Aside from the drive, HARI intends to address the negative impact of climate change by partnering with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through a coral reforestation project in Boracay. The said project was subsequently held during this 2015 Tucson media drive.

Group activity

Both local and foreign media participated in HARI’s coral reforestation project. HARI president Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo said in a statement that Hyundai is a brand that cares for the environment that intends to improve the country’s marine ecosystem.

“We want to reaffirm that Hyundai is a brand that cares for the environment. We initiated the coral reforestation project aligned with the national agenda to save the marine ecosystem, as well as to support eco-tourism in Boracay,” said Perez-Agudo.

The partnership of HARI and DOST kicked off in 2014 with the launching of the Hyundai New Thinkers Circuit, aimed to tap the potential of top students from selected public science high school to address the negative impact of climate change. The said program also pushes for relevant and sustainable projects in the area of climate change adaptation and mitigation.