Crossover & Midsize

2016 Was a Horrible Year for the Hyundai Tucson

Now in its third generation, the Hyundai Tucson is a popular SUV that offers a smooth ride, a nice interior, and great value. The crossover SUV is smaller than the Hyundai Santa Fe but more affordable. It may have limited space but it’s popular with SUV fans for its competent handling abilities and a nice offering of intuitive technology.

If you’re looking for a good, recent SUV, you may want to avoid one particular model of the Tucson. One model year was plagued with poor reliability ratings, problems, and customer complaints.

The 2016 Hyundai Tucson

The Hyundai Tucson at the Annual Chicago Auto Show
The Hyundai Tucson | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The Hyundai Tucson was redesigned in 2016 to kick off its third generation. The redesign was to the point that the name is really the only thing left from the previous generation. The intention was to make the Tucson on par with Hyundai’s other offerings like the Santa Fe Sport and the Santa Fe SUVs.

The base model offered a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. It achieved 24 MPG overall on fuel economy and was a bit slow. With higher trim levels, you could get a more energetic 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. That engine came with a seven-speed automated manual transmission. While it got 26 MPG overall and offered a quiet ride, at low speeds, there was vibration.

The interior was quiet and comfortable. The ride was likewise comfortable and capable of solid, secure handling. There’s adequate space in the rear seat unless you have taller passengers and the controls are user-friendly. It offered decent safety features like blind-spot monitoring, forward collision prevention with automatic braking, and lane-departure warning. 

What went wrong with the 2016 Tucson

When it came to predicted reliability and overall customer satisfaction, Consumer Reports gave the 2016 Hyundai Tucson a dismal rating of one out of five. They gave the Tucson credit for the comfort of the ride, secure handling, and the simplicity of its controls.

But Consumer Reports cited several issues with the model. There were problems with even power delivery with the 1.6-liter turbo engine. The dual-clutch automatic transmission match with the smaller turbo engine wasn’t a good one. The 2.0-liter engine offered with the base models had slower acceleration and a lot of annoying engine noise. Options available with the base 2.0-liter engine were limited

The rear window was small. Between that and the thick roof pillars, the rear visibility was somewhat limited.

In the CR road test, the 2016 Tucson was given a rating of two out of five. The Hyundai Tucson can get you from one destination to another. It’s practical. CR considered its performance merely basic.

There were four recalls for this model of the Hyundai Tucson. There were problems with the wiring in the electrical system which caused the trailer brake lights to stay lit which caused confusion for other drivers. There were also problems with the rear lights that, at times, failed to show the trailer’s turn signal lights which could also cause issues for other drivers. The hood latches were defective in some cases with the risk that the hood could fly open when the vehicle was in use.

There was also a recall involving the automatic transmissions that caused the vehicle to be incapable of moving while in traffic.

What customers think of the 2016 Hyundai Tucson

Car Complaints lists 980 customer complaints about the 2016 Hyundai Tucson. A number of complaints were about the transmission.

Models with the dual-clutch, seven-speed transmission had instances of being unable to accelerate when the vehicle was brought to a stop. There were reports of being unable to properly shift, the vehicle lurching forward after stopping, shuddering, and vibration at higher speeds.

One driver from Connecticut said that because of the transmission issues, they didn’t feel safe driving the SUV. They were afraid the issues would cause them to be in an accident. They often transported a grandchild, and they feared for the child’s safety.

Another frustrated driver in Florida said that when they brought their Hyundai Tucson in for service, they were told the problem was “bad gas.” They said the car ran but wouldn’t accelerate.

Another Florida Tucson owner experienced problems with it not engaging correctly and lurching forward. While a software update seemed to fix some of the problems, at low speeds the vehicle still lurched at low speeds. It would also over-accelerate with only light pressure applied to the gas pedal. They were told by the dealer there was “no way to fix it.”

If you’re looking for a good used SUV, you may still be able to find a Hyundai Tucson to meet your needs. But you may want to consider steering clear of the 2016 models of this popular crossover.