Hyundai introduced a completely redesigned Tucson at the New York International Auto Show Wednesday, showing off a vehicle that is bigger, sportier and more fuel-efficient than the small crossover it replaces.
The South Korean automaker is replacing the Tucson even though the old model still sells well, five years after it first reached dealers. Hyundai sold more than 47,000 Tucsons last year, nearly a 13% gain from the previous year, according to Autodata Corp., an industry research firm.
But the Hyundai can't count on that to last. The small crossover segment of the auto market is among the fastest growing in the industry. Hyundai has to keep pace with the improvements Honda has made in its top-selling CR-V and stiff competition from Ford, Toyota and Mazda.
"That segment is so hot," said Karl Brauer, an analyst with auto shopping company Kelley Blue Book. "Hyundai will sell plenty of the new Tucson."
The new design should lift Tucson sales to about 78,000 by 2016, IHS Automotive, an industry research firm, estimated. It goes on sale in July.
That's because people are gravitating to small crossovers from compact sedans because they achieve similar fuel efficiency and have more room for people and cargo, Brauer said.
The 2016 Tucson is longer, wider and has a longer wheelbase -- about 1 inch -- than the previous model. Hyundai said this allowed designers to increase the size of the passenger cabin and to grow cargo paces by five cubic feet to 31.0 cubic feet. The rear liftgate also is larger, making it easier to move dogs, bicycles, groceries and other cargo in and out of the back.
The base model will come with 2.0-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder engine with an estimated 164 horsepower and 151 pound feet of torque. It is coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Based on internal tests, fuel economy is estimated at 23 mpg (city), 31 mpg (highway), 26 mpg (combined) but the final numbers are waiting Environmental Protection Agency certification. A 26-mpg combined fuel economy rating would be a 1-mpg improvement over the previous model.
Other Tucson models will come with 1.6-liter turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder engines with an estimated 175 horsepower and 195 pound feet of torque. Those engines will be mated to seven-speed dual-clutch transmissions. They are also expected to get better fuel economy than the previous Tucson models.
Hyundai also has added optional safety features such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, a lane departure warning system, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and sensors that issue a warning if the driver is about to back into an object. Regardless of trim level and option packages, all Tucsons will now come with a rearview camera.