Hyundai’s compact Tucson crossover is a perennial bright light in the brand’s troubled lineup, and it seems the Korean automaker wants to reward customers with a third engine choice.
Blessed with a pile of Theta II 2.4-liter engines looking for homes, Hyundai has apparently stuffed one in a mid-range Tucson and slapped on a “Sport” moniker, thus creating a slightly hotter model for buyers not impressed with the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder â€” but not willing to shell out for the 1.6-liter turbo.
Hmm… are Hyundai buyers swayed by value?
The news comes by way of CarsDirect, which discovered (via order guides) that the Tucson Sport started production last month. Positioned between the SEL and SEL Plus trim levels, the Tucson Sport gains niceties found on its slightly higher-end trim neighbor, plus a dash of visual aggression. Slightly revamped front and rear fascias come standard, as do 19-inch wheels.
One has to wonder if this is the “N Sport” trim Hyundai performance boss Albert Biermann spoke of earlier this year. Probably not, as that trim aims to draw on the athleticism of the brand’s new N modelsÂ â€” the first of which hasn’t yet arrived in North America. “N” means nothing to most Hyundai buyers, but “Sport” certainly does.
Other goodies bound for the sporter Tucson include a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, a proximity key and push-button start, plus driver assist features like blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert and lane change assist. Dual chrome exhaust adds extra brightwork to the rear.
Starting price, including destination, is $26,130. Buyers wanting four-wheel traction can add it to the package for another $1,400, taking the the price tag up toÂ $27,530. The model’s price positions it almost halfway between the two SEL trims. Moving up the ladder to the less-powerful SEL Plus requires another $1,550.
While the order guide didn’t specify the Tucson’s brawn, other 2.4-liter vehicles in Hyundai’s lineup make 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. That’s a noticeable bump from the standard 2.0-liter’s 164 hp and 151 lb-ft, though the top-flight Tucson’s 1.6T offers up 175 hp and a punchier 195 lb-ft. You’ll pay more to get into the 1.6T, however. Anyone looking for that engine must first leapfrog the SEL Plus trim to get to the recently created “Value” model, which shares its turbocharged powerplant with the top-shelf Limited.
It seems like Hyundai’s planning a mid-year introduction of the Tucson Sport to keep the money tree crossover in the public eye. The Tucson remains Hyundai’s best-selling utility model, selling 114,735 units in the U.S. last year and another 30,467 in Canada. February sales in the U.S. rose 31 percent, year over year.