Because numbers are so complicated over at Hyundai they decided to launch the Hyundai Tucson TL and ditch the ix35. And the Tucson TL is a car that deserves a chance from everyone.
If you graduate or not, the “XXX” bottle tastes the same. So the story starts in 2004 with the Hyundai Tucson JM and in 2009 Hyundai introduced the Hyundai ix35, because at that time it had started the assault with the i10, i20, i30 and i40 and they wanted to overhaul the Tucson aswell (but not the Santa Fe for some reason). Basically the 2nd generation Tucson was renamed into the Hyundai i35, with the “x” standing for all-wheel drive. Curious enough they did the same with the ix20, which doesn’t have all-wheel drive. Then in 2015 came the successor of the ix35, the Hyundai Tucson TL. If you have understood something from this, it is time to go to bed.
And this is how the Hyundai Tucson TL ended with a new bigger, faster, angrier and more aggressive look. It’s just that it’s not that fast. And not angry either. In fact, it is a comfortable family car, without sports affinities. Because you don’t need sports credits when the main job of the car is to carry small children in the back, and you definatelly don’t need to see how their breakfast flies directly from their stomachs onto the upholstery and windows when you put your foot down.
Reliability wise is above the ix35 predecessor but below the Tucson JM’s ancestor, but that can be said for most modern cars. And not only cars, but any modern technology actually. Do you remember the days when a phone lasted for more than 2 years? I don’t.
Hyundai Tucson TL Engines
- 1.6 Gamma II GDi of 132 horsepower – A classic Hyundai / Kia engine which is pretty much the most reliable petrol from the line-up. It still does that Hyundai knocking sound that makes it vibrate and sounds like gravel falling from the wheelbarrow, but the life of this engine is approximately 300,000 kms and for most owners that is enough because a petrol engine is usually an urban warrior which won’t do much mileage. The intake manifold and valves must be cleaned occasionally from carbon build-up and great attention must be paid to the fuel filter, which is more sensitive to quality than a customer who has little money and lots of demands. Most importantly, this is the only engine that retains the old 6 speed torque converter automatic gearbox, which is slower but much more reliable.
- 1.6 Gamma II T-GDi of 177 horsepower – Same 1.6 GDi but with a turbocharger strapped to it. Much like a pregnant woman, this engine is unpredictable and doesn’t know exactly what it wants, it only knows that it wants it now. I say this because the turbocharger can have issues right from the factory gates, or it can be troublefree. Either it develops the issues after a few kilometers, or it doesn’t at all. There is no middle ground as it only deals in absolutes. Fabulous on the Kona, decent on the Tucson.
- 2.0 GDi Nu of 153 and 161 horsepower – Multipoint injection for the 153 version and direct injection for the 161 version and many issues and lawsuits for both of them. I won’t write much here because it shares the issues with the next engine in the line-up.
- 2.4 MPI Theta II of 174 and 181 horsepower – Oh boy, here we go. The 2.0 GDi used to be the butt of all lawsuits but then it got phased out for this new 2.4 4 cylinder Theta II engine. Same knocking pistons which are made from chewed gum, same oil leaks, same proneness to fire. Best to go another way.
- 1.6 SmartStream CRDi of 115 and 136 horsepower – Good luck finding this last minute addition as it was available only from 2018 to 2020. Much how the 1.6 petrol is adequate for the i30 but not quite for the Tucson, this 1.6 diesel is also reliable but lacks punch. The most reliable diesel of the bunch though as it’s only plagued by modern emission standards so it’s not the sharpest tool for the urban shed.
- 1.7 U-Line CRDi of 117 horsepower – End of the line for this faulty diesel and when I say faulty it’s not really about the diesel as it is about the faulty clutch and dodgy manual gearbox. And on the previous generation the automagic was a viable option, but in this case it isn’t.
- 2.0 R-Line CRDi of 136 and 184 horsepower – We also discussed about this engine in the Hyundai ix35 article. It’s not a cheap engine to maintain anyway you look at it. Just the dual mass flywheel, the clutch and the particle filtre cost so much that you can easily consider a petrol variant or a smaller diesel option. You really only need this engine if you need to tow caravans and/or trailers, but otherwise you’re much better off with the other engines.
Hyundai Tucson TL Common Issues
- For the wealthiest among us who have also afforded the panoramic sunshine roof, they must know that the Hyundai Tucson TL also suffers from the general Hyundai issue with sunshine roofs. The hatch can get stuck, the glass can break and the motors can give up. That’s what you get because you dared to spend more than 5000 euros on a car. You should’ve stayed poor like the rest of us.
- But wait, there’s more for the rich who bought their foot-operated tailgate, as the sensor does not always work. You will have to open the tailgate from time to time using the handle, like the rest of us.
- This generation Tucson saw the advent of the dual clutch 7DCT automatic gearbox which has been the subject to multiple recalls and was even withdrawn from production multiple times. As with most dual clutch transmissions, they are not very good at the city start/stop way of life and the dual mass flywheel tends to fail rapidly, as with the clutch and the pressure plate and cylinder. Not the most inspired automagic on the market.
Hyundai Tucson TL Verdict
Despite it’s issues, the Hyundai Tucson TL remains one of the more reliable cars of our time. A car that completely abandoned the utilitarian behavior of the first Tucson, a car that is no longer just another run-of-the-mill cross-over like the ix35, but a complete family car. The only real difference now between the Tucson and the Santa Fe is the size and the fact that the Santa Fe comes with a 7 seat option. But how many of us need to make the plunge to Santa Fe? I say that a Hyundai Tucson TL is enough for most people and families.
Which engine do I recommend? If you couldn’t care less about engines, the 1.6 naturally aspirated petrol is all the engine you’ll ever need. Otherwise I’d pick the turbocharged version 1.6 T-GDi and it’s 177 horsepower. For most people, this engine is enough, and the career of the diesel engine is the same as that of The Simpsons: It used to be good, but now its time has passed. However, for those who have to tow caravans and trailers (I find it hard to believe that you will transport sacks of potatoes and pigs in a Hyundai Tucson TL) then clearly the 2.0 CRDi with 184 horses is exactly what you need. As for traction, I only recommend all-wheel drive, but if you don’t intend to leave the tarmac to ride into the wilderness and vast emptiness of space, I guess you can also go with front-wheel drive. But it’s like a beer without alcohol. It’s like a cigarette without tobacco. It’s like a woman without… It’s like a football match without a fight between the fans. It’s like Ozzy Osbourne being sober. No sense of humor.