Test Drive: Ride in comfort with Hyundai Tucson

The Tucson is Hyundai’s right-sized sport-utility vehicle — the one that drives like a sedan, yet packs like an SUV, performs well in rough weather and even can handle some mild off-road adventuring when equipped with all-wheel drive. Fitted with the optional 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and front-wheel drive, it’s also admirably fuel-efficient, delivering 26 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway. And it’s competitively priced at $22,700 for the base SE model.

As is typical with Hyundais, the Tucson comes loaded with standard equipment. Our test car, a Black Noir Pearl 2017 Tucson Night with all-wheel drive, was loaded and then some. Its sticker price was $30,220.

In Night trim, the Tucson comes with the turbocharged, 175-horsepower 1.6-liter Four and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Also available is a 2.0-liter Four with 6-speed automatic gearbox. By some accounts, Tucsons with this combination are underpowered. That certainly isn’t the case with the turbo, though power delivery through the dual-clutch transmission isn't always consistent. Fuel economy is about the same.

Riding comfort and noise suppression are just about as good as it gets in the compact SUV sector. A few models, including the Mazda CX-3 and CX-5, corner more crisply and generally provide more sporty handling.

The standard-equipment list is a lure in this model, as is the case with most Hyundais and their Kia cousins. Space doesn’t allow a full accounting of the Tucson Night AWD’s features, but here are the highlights: 19-inch black-finish alloy wheels; panoramic sunroof; hands-free smart liftgate; blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert; rear-view camera; 8-way power driver’s seat; heated front seats; and tilt-telescoping steering wheel with audio, phone and cruise controls on the hub.

For those who want a moderate dose of technology, Tucson comes with a 5-inch color touchscreen, Bluetooth, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with iPod, USB and auxiliary input jacks and Sirius/XM radio. The Tucson also has multiple 12-volt power outlets.

Whether one is carrying passengers, cargo or both, the Tucson is a roomy vehicle. Maximum cargo capacity is about 62 cubic feet, and four or five adults can ride comfortably.

The Tucson has earned high marks for safety — 5-star ratings across the board (except for rollover, 4 stars), and the 2016 Tucson, the last one tested, was rated a Top Safety Pick Plus by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Built in Ulsan, Korea the Tucson competes with the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX3, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, Subaru Forester, Honda HR-V and CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4. Within the Hyundai line, the quirky little Veloster, the new-for-2018 subcompact Kona and the bigger Santa Fe also are worth a look.

We mainly used our Tucson for commuting and grocery trips, but it was built for more arduous tasks. Unlike many small SUVs, it has a versatile drive system that includes active on-demand AWD with selectable locking AWD. With 6.4 inches of ground clearance, it isn’t set up for extreme 4-wheeling but is not limited to paved roads.

2017 Hyundai Tucson Night AWD

Price: $30,220

Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged inline Four, 175 horsepower, 195 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic

Drive: active on-demand all-wheel with AWD lock, drive mode select

Ground clearance: 6.4 in.

Weight: 3,500 lb.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear

Wheels: 19-in. RAYS black-finish alloy

Tires: P245/45R19 all-season

Seating capacity: 5

Luggage capacity: 31 cu. ft.

Maximum cargo capacity: 61.9 cu. ft.

Fuel capacity: 16.4 gal.

Fuel economy: 24 mpg city, 28 mpg highway

Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline

Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.