Even as Hyundai prepares to unveil a refreshed 2019 Tucson compact SUV, it has announced the return of a Sport trim level to the 2018 Tucson lineup with a new engine. Hyundai already has confirmed that a redone Tucson will be unveiled next week at the 2018 New York International Auto Show, along with a redesigned 2019 Santa Fe two-row SUV and an all-electric version of its new Kona subcompact SUV.
The Sport trim level returns after a break following the 2017 model year. And it comes standard with a new engine for the Tucson lineup, though despite the Sport name, it’s not a high-performance model. It slides into the middle of the Tucson trim levels in price and features, above the SE and SEL, and below the SEL Plus, Value and Limited. The Sport with front-wheel drive starts at $26,130 ($1,400 more for all-wheel drive) and it’s on sale now. The line starts at $23,530 for the base front-wheel-drive SE; a top-trim all-wheel-drive Limited starts at $31,805. (All prices include a $980 destination charge.)
The Sport will be powered by a conventional 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that is familiar from the Santa Fe Sport SUV and Sonata sedan, though with slightly less horsepower and torque than in those models, at 181 hp and 175 pounds-feet. The 2.4-liter will be mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and have standard stop-start system for better mileage.
The new engine for the Sport is in addition to the Tucson’s base 164-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic for lower trim levels, and the 175-hp, 1.6-liter turbo with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic in the Value and Limited models. The punchy little turbo puts out 6 less horsepower than the new 2.4-liter but produces 20 pounds-feet more torque. And its 195 pounds-feet kicks in at 1,500 rpm versus 4,000 for the 2.4-liter’s peak output.
The Sport builds on the SEL model ($24,780 to start with front-wheel drive) and adds sportier front and rear bumpers, chrome exhaust tips, 19-inch alloy wheels and side mirrors with turn-signal indicators. It also adds dual climate control, rear climate vents, keyless entry with push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and door-handle LED approach lights. Safety features include blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.
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