TRUTH be told, you wouldn’t expect much from the Hyundai Tucson at first sight (pronounced ‘tu-sahn’, after the state in Arizona.)

The Korean carmaker’s been handing out facelifts generously. So, pretty much what Korean parents are doing these days. The first Tucson was the brand’s first gambit in the hotly-contested crossover segment.

And as with people, you can change a face, but not do much about a blocky build. The revised visage of the new Tucson looks far more modern, with a tiered grille and leaner headlights slingshotting it from the ’90s to the 2019 status quo of aggressive and commanding. It’s still a 1.5-tonne SUV however, and they skipped the jaw surgery on this one.

So when you step up into the cavernous cabin for the first time, you’ll be thinking “how slowly do I have to drive this stack of mattresses?”

And then the car goes ahead and shuts you up once you hit the road.

Light-footed monolith

We take out the Turbo “S” 1.6 two-wheel drive for a joyride. The first thing to note is how light the wheel is in the hands.

The power-assisted steering’s cranked up to eleven on this one. A toddler could pull off a lane change without having to use body weight. Not that we’re suggesting your toddler should be anywhere but in a safety seat in the rear.

Naturally, we try manhandling the wheel in abrupt fashion. The sturdy crossover handles sharp corners surprisingly well; while it doesn’t deliver track-worthy benders, it remains grounded and barely even rolls.

In spite of this lightness, it’s far from twitchy, so you’re not going to go off-kilter if you bust a sneeze.

You’re going to have to put the foot down on the pedal, however. The turbo lag in the Tucson is noticeable. Despite an admirable 0-100 of less than 9 seconds, the power comes very late in the rev. It delivers 175bhp at 5,500rpm – just enough to make this a pleasant cruiser.

Inner comfort

For all turbo foibles, the interior of the Tucson delivers exactly what you’d expect in a modern SUV. A 7-inch touch-screen infotainment console, meant to interface with Android Auto or Apple Carplay, sits atop the central dash.

Fine by us – better brands have gone full out with their own satnav, but few have approached the complexity and reliability that Google Maps can offer.

Almost every surface is wrapped in leather, including the steering wheel and peripheral armrests. Only some parts of the dash lie bare.

Let’s not forget the sunroof – with a base as stable as the d Tucson, cruising about with your knees on the seats is hella fun. On that note, there’s plenty of legroom in the rear for reasonably-sized adults. That’s the entire reason you’ll get this car, after all.

Ventilated seats, once the domain of top-end cruisers and sedans, also find their way onto this stalwart crosssover.

Exterior redux

The greatest changes on the Tucson were skin-deep. You’d be hard pressed to find a favourable opinion of the original.

Gone is the protruding lower jaw and simplistic fender that resembled certain species of beetles. In it’s place is an Audi-esque affair oozing sophistry and menace; the ubiquitous Megatron look, if you will.

The headlights, likewise, have gone from doleful prey to keen-eyed hawk. This tapering carries through to the tail of the car, resulting in shrunken rear windows which may or may not suit your fancy.

And fancy the Tucson you may. You won’t be taking it out for date nights, but for any trip that involves kids, the family or any number of best buds, the Tucson’s the smooth delivery vessel of choice.

written by.
Xiangjun Liao
XJ is the associate digital editor and works the F&B, tech, watch and motoring beats. Correspondingly, he's an alcoholic carnivore with a boyish fascination for all things mechanical. No prizes for guessing which Jaguar he wishes to commandeer.

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