Count the number of Tucsons in an upscale mall’s parking lot and you’ll realise that the SUV has done quite well for Hyundai. But, as popular as it is, one critical ingredient that you’d expect in an SUV costing upwards of Rs 20 lakh was always missed in the Tucson – all-wheel drive. The good news is Hyundai has made amends, with the launch of the Tucson AWD. Available only with the diesel engine in top-spec GLS trim and priced at Rs 25.44 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Tucson AWD takes the place of the now-discontinued front-wheel-drive, diesel-automatic GLS as Hyundai’s range-topper.
The Tucson’s all-wheel-drive system is front-axle-biased, and only sends power to the rear when the electronics determine a need for added traction. There is, however, a 4WD lock that gives the option to split engine torque between the front and rear in a 50:50 ratio, at the touch of a button; hill-start assist and hill descent control are part of the package too. There’s also a feeling of security in knowing that there’s a full-size spare in the boot. On the mild off-road tracks we ventured onto, the Tucson AWD didn’t put a foot wrong and generally felt quite able. But the real test for the Hyundai’s newfound off-road abilities will be when we subject it to monsoon mud and slush.
Out on tarmac, the AWD system comes into play to help the Tucson put its 2.0-litre diesel engine’s 185hp and 400Nm torque down better. Where the front-wheel-drive version’s tyres would chirp and its traction control light would flicker frantically on hard launches, all-wheel drive allows for cleaner and less-dramatic getaways. The punchy engine remains likeable as ever, but, just as before, we continue to miss paddleshifters for the six-speed automatic gearbox.
Of the other things, the Tucson AWD is set up slightly stiffer than the front-wheel-drive model and, resultantly, body control is that little bit better here. It feels more poised in fast corners too. The steering has nice weight, but an involving SUV to drive this still isn’t. What the Tucson is, is a comfortable family SUV, and it does comfort well. The seats are well-padded, there’s a lot of space in the back and you have the option to recline the rear backrest, too. There’s also a reasonable amount of kit on board, including a powered driver’s seat, drive modes, hands-free tailgate operation and a touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Sadly, a sunroof is still not on the list, and there’s no height adjust for the low-set front passenger seat either.
Is the Tucson AWD the SUV for you? If indeed your heart is set on a Tucson, the AWD is the best one to buy. However, if you’ve just started your search for a premium soft-roader in the Rs 20-30 lakh price bracket, you’d do well to take a look at the more premium-feeling Volkswagen Tiguan, too. And finally, for the few out there primarily drawn to this version of the Tucson for its off-road abilities, we’d suggest you wait a little longer. The off-road-spec Jeep Trailhawk could be the SUV you’ve been waiting for.