Hyundai’s 1.6-liter turbo-four is one of the best engines in its U.S. powertrain lineup. It has been updated to produce full torque at lower revs (1,500 rpm versus 1,750 in the previous Veloster) and is used in many Hyundai and Kia vehicles. In fact, it’s my favorite Hyundai-Kia engine, one I wish found its way into more vehicles. It offers plenty of torque and, in sportier applications, lively performance.
Two versions of the 1.6-liter turbo-four exist, a performance-oriented unit found in the Elantra Sport/GT Sport, Veloster Turbo, Kia Soul Turbo, and Forte5 SX, plus an efficiency-minded one used in the Tucson, Sonata Eco, and Kia Optima LX 1.6T. Turbo lag is minimal, so there’s not much waiting around to get moving even at highway speeds where the engine is spinning near the heart of its powerband. This isn’t an engine that you rev out, though. At higher engine rpm, it’s essentially just making noise. Keeping the car in the low to midrange, where its torque has plateaued, allows you to get the most out of it.
Passing is easy in the Tucson, even with the stubborn eco-tuned version of Hyundai-Kia’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, because there’s sufficient torque to accelerate without a downshift in many instances. When it does drop a gear, it immediately puts you right in the engine’s sweet spot, giving you the necessary power to pass that Sunday driver.
Although it’s not the most powerful vehicle in its class, the Tucson is punchy enough for the average consumer. Sure, it has the least powerful version of the little turbocharged engine at 175 hp, but it’s the 195 lb-ft of torque that counts more in everyday driving, not outright horsepower.
As a result, our long-term 2017 Tucson feels quicker than it actually is, and all of that accessible low-end torque makes it a breeze to weave through traffic in the city. The refreshed 2019 Hyundai Tucson actually replaces both the turbo-four engine and the dual-clutch transmission, with a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated I-4 making 181 hp and 175 lb-ft, paired to a six-speed automatic. Learn about it here.
Read more about our 2017 Hyundai Tucson Limited AWD: