The 2021 Wards 10 Best Interiors are being revealed in random, non-alphabetical order one per day until Oct. 15. This is the ninth winner profile. Winners will receive their trophies Nov. 16 during Automotive TechWeek in Novi, MI.
Hyundai’s done it again.
With winning entries in each of the past three years, the South Korean automaker is no stranger to the Wards 10 Best Interiors list.
This year it’s the Tucson Limited midsize CUV that makes the final cut, as it follows the automaker’s recent formula of daring lines, eye-catching materials and a dose of user-friendly technology.
What grabs your eye immediately as you slide behind the wheel in the striking, predominantly white and gray cabin is the Tucson’s dramatic bends and curves: The multi-layered, waterfall-inspired instrument panel with its sleekly inauspicious row of air vents flows neatly into the highly stylized door inners, sculpted with a mix of geometric shapes and lines that evoke a strong sense of motion.
Not only does it all look good from a sheer design standpoint, but these complex pieces come together flawlessly on the assembly line.
“Tight pillar fits. Pretty perfect king’s joint,” 10 Best Interiors judge Christie Schweinsberg notes on her scoresheet, referring to the instrument-panel trim that meets up with the front doors when closed, as well as the headliner as it joins the A-pillar and B-pillar.
All this is dressed up and accented with some fairly top-grade materials for an all-wheel-drive vehicle priced at $37,454 as tested.
Seats are trimmed with white leather, and there’s matching soft material along the dash, doors, heated steering wheel and center armrest.
A gray fabric trim that runs along the instrument panel and door inners is a uniquely attractive touch that separates the Tucson from the rest of the midsize CUV pack.
Glossy black plastic is employed along the center console to add some polish and shine, and nickel-like trim along the doors, dash, console, seatbacks and steering wheel provide extra glitz.
But the Tucson isn’t just handsome, it works well too. Tactile buttons regulating the sound and climate systems are positioned within easy reach along the console.
Controls on the steering wheel for functions such as the smart cruise system, radio and voice activation are generously sized and clearly marked so you can spot them quickly – or feel your way to them without taking your eyes off the road.
Hyundai gets creative with the graphic designs on its 10.25-in. (26-cm) center screen, with the tuner displaying station IDs within a set of old-time radio vacuum tubes.
The 10.25-in. configurable digital cluster features crisp virtual gauges and a solid menu of information to aid the driver.
There’s plenty of comfort dialed in here, too. Front seats pamper their occupants, featuring lumbar support for the driver and heated and cooled functionality for both.
But rear-seat passengers won’t complain, either. There are gobs of room in the nearly flat-folding second row, and with the split seats down there’s plenty of space in the cargo bay for what you might need to carry.
A panoramic sunroof adds to the open, airy feel of the cabin, while multicolored accent lighting and an excellent Bose sound system can help buoy occupant mood.
The list of technology onboard is a long one, particularly for a model in this price segment. There’s a full suite of safety systems that includes forward collision avoidance assist, blindspot and rear cross-traffic alerts, downhill brake control and safe-exit warning.
There’s also adaptive cruise control, a surround-view monitor and convenience items such as a power liftgate, wireless charging, remote park assist, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and Hyundai’s digital key that can lock and unlock the doors or start the vehicle via an Android-based smartphone.
Simply put, the Hyundai Tucson (pictured above, below) checks all the boxes and then some. It’s a stylish, well-put-together midsize CUV that offers plenty of features and comfort at an attractive price, and then goes that extra step.
“It’s the little touches that bring this one home,” notes 10 Best tester Bob Gritzinger.