In North America and South Korea it may be still called the Hyundai Tucson, but for the rest of the world it’s called the Hyundai ix35. No matter how you call, just don’t call it an off-road car.
Because the Hyundai ix35 is not an off-road car. Sure, it has some off-road abilities, but this car was built mostly for the urban citizen who only has to face the urban jungle, who has no mountains to climb, only curbs. Who does not have to carry 30 sacks of potatoes on a forest road, but only has to haul strollers and the shopping bags from the mall. It was inevitable that Hyundai would eventually jump on the cross-over bandwagon.
VW launched the Tiguan in 2007, the Audi Q5 had appeared in 2008, and the X3 had already been on the market since 2004. Hyundai already had the Hyundai Tucson JM, but a new car, a new concept was needed and this is how the Hyundai ix35 became the official car of those who want a cross-over but who are not sure that they want to TNT their entire bank account by doing so. Like the first generation Tucson, the Hyundai ix35 remains an excellent car for “my first SUV-even-if-it’s-not-really-an-SUV” people.
So what does the ix35 stand for?
From the fact that the Korean engineers had some dwarfs dancing in their head and who convinced them to make an attempt at standard nomenclature. So then the Hyundai i30, i20, i10 and i40 appeared. Afterwards came the Hyundai i35, with the “x” standing for “all-wheel drive”. But they went even further and gave the “x” treatment to the i20 but the ix20 didn’t have all-wheel drive. And the buyers were so impressed by this name that ix35’s succesor returned to the Tucson name. So, you have Hyundai Tucson JM, Hyundai ix35 and Hyundai Tucson TL. If you understood something from this paragraph, it is time to put down the bottle and go to bed.
Hyundai ix35 Engines
- 1.6 Gamma GDi of 132 horsepower – Mounted on absolutely everything Hyundai had, from the i30 to the Elantra, this engine comes in combination with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox. A simple combination, cheap to maintain, but limited to tarmac life. You won’t go anywhere in the snow with this configuration. But maybe the majority of Hyundai ix35 owners will never leave the tarmac, except maybe they will have a short drive on the grass or cross a puddle. You don’t need a 4×4 for this. Also, be very careful with the fuel filter, which is more sensitive than the subject of salaries in corporations. Also since it’s a GDi it’s prone to carbon build-up and it’s not LPG friendly. Again, if you care about this kind of stuff.
- 2.0 Nu GDI and Theta II MPi of 164 horsepower – Two very different engines, much like the 2 diesels from the previous generation. The Nu GDi engine is one of those engines present in the world class action, and the old Theta II MPi isn’t and that’s the one engine you want and it’s easy to find because it was standard issue from 2009 to 2015, and the Nu Engine appeared only in 2013.
- 2.4 Theta II MPi of 177 horsepower – This engine is to Hyundai and Kia what the 1.6D was to Ford, Volvo, Peugeot, Citroen, Mini and wherever it had the misfortune to be placed. Known for catching fire and wrecking it’s pistons, this is one engine you do want to avoid unless you have a court fetish.
- 1.7 U-Line CRDi of 115 horsepower – It may’ve been the entry-level engine on the Hyundai ix35 but it didn’t come with entry-level running costs, and it wasn’t either powerful nor reliable. Leaving aside the muscles worthy of Graham Norton, the engine has DPF regeneration issues. As with the Opel Insignia, the regeneration is sometimes not complete and if the engine is shut down, the regeneration fails and an extra amount of diesel and oil remains in the engine. That small amount accumulates with each failed regeneration and if you are not careful about this thing it ends up clogging the DPF, damaging the turbo and maybe even destroying the engine if you are as interested as an employee during his 2 weeks notice period. Also the clutch has a shorter lifespan than Come Fly With Me.
- 2.0 R-Line CRDi of 136 and 184 horsepower – The same 2.0 CRDi we are used to, only slightly updated to more modern standards. They are still expensive engines to run though. Just the double mass flywheel and the clutch and the particle filtre cost so much that the 1.6 petrol engine suddenly becomes attractive even if it were to run exclusively of Lagavulin. Turbo and injectors issues are also reported, but the examples are rarer. An expensive engine to maintain.
Hyundai ix35 Common Issues
- The manual gearbox is defeated by the cold and the white hell. When the temperatures approach 0 degrees it will start having difficulties shifting in the first and second gears. This is a not a feature but a bag and there is nothing you can do about it. Just go to the gym, eat more and pump your muscles to an acceptable level that can handle the shifting.
- Much like an quiet quiter, there are constant performance issues with the air conditioning, either from faulty sensors, the air compressor or faulty software. Best advice would be to just roll down the windows and deal with it.
- From 2014 onwards you no longer receive the spare wheel but only a tiny repair kit that you can throw away the moment you receive it. It’s like having an asthmatic cough through a stick to inflate a tire. It won’t happen anytime soon.
- Bluetooth connectivity as vague as whatever I’m writing here, so you have to check whether your phone is compatible with the Hyundai ix35.
- The infotainment system has a habit of suddenly giving up and leaving you in the dark. Whether it’s a system update or the actual unit that is faulty, the infotainment on the ix35 is far from being the latest word in technology.
- I’m not completely sold on the electrically assisted power steering which may or may not be to everyone’s liking. There are many updates for steering adjustment, so if you don’t like how the car steers, you can always change the software settings.
- If the previous generation Tucson had issues with the brake pads wear indicator, now we move on to the tire pressure monitoring sensors which refuse to work, regardless of whether they are broken or not. It’s such a headache that you better check your tire pressure occasionally. And it’s not ix35 specific as it affects pretty much all Hyundais from this period and the period to follow.
Hyundai ix35 Verdict
Not the last word in terms of reliability, but it’s a decent attempt by Hyundai to create a cross-over. It is no longer the off-roading work horse the first generation was, nor is it as complete as the Hyundai Tucson TL, but rather a car that sits in the middle of the center. Yes, you could argue that it is not a particularly reliable car, but for the quality standards of 2010, it is a really good car. And I’m not just referring to Hyundai in particular, i’m talking about the entire automotive industry.
Which engines do I recommend? The 1.6 GDi 132 horsepower and the 2.0 Theta II MPi 164 horsepower units are the go-to petrol engines, and for the diesel I would honestly just hunt for a 1.7 CRDi automagic. It’s the best of both worlds.