By John Goreham
Our latest installment of First Signs of the Carpocalypse covers the 2016 model year Hyundai Tucson.
Drivers have flooded CarComplaints.com with reports that the automatic transmission is defective and that the vehicle will not move forward.
Ten months ago I was one of the first writers to review the new Tucson and my early production test vehicle revealed some bad behavior. Included in my review was the commentary, “We regret to report that during our (Tucson) testing it revealed some bad habits. When one is slowed, but not stopped, say at an intersection, and then one gives a goose to the throttle, the Tucson lags. The problem is the DCT, not the engine.” Hyundai's video below attempts to educate its new DCT-equipped vehicle owners about the new transmission and how it works, but I felt the tranmsission had more than the typical oddness.
This slight lag I reported was also found in Consumer Reports’ testing. They bought the Hyundai Tucson they tested (mine was a press-fleet loaner), and it required a full software update at the dealership to correct the issue. However, Consumer Reports then reported a low-speed vibration that caused concerns.
The redesigned Hyundai Tucson adopted a new automatic dual-clutch transmission (DCT) primarily to save fuel. DCTs are all the rage among European premium models because they supposedly bridged the gap between a manual stick shift and a traditional automatic. However, the DCT can feel goofy when one starts off, or when one is moving a DCT-equipped vehicle into or out of a garage. Some Euro-lux brands have moved to back to conventional automatics in their more sedate sedans. For a full list of which affordable crossovers offer which type of transmission, check out BestRide's rundown.
To be clear, these minor odd feelings are not what the Tucson’s DCT problems are. Owners report that the Tucson won’t move and that the engine revs high without forward progress. This is a slam-dunk safety issue, and we expect a recall will be the result. So far, Hyundai has only issued a Technical Service Bulletin (number 16-01-035.) Check out the video above for a clear look at the issue.
CarComplaints.com reader and comment contributor, Kathima, explained the problem perfectly, writing this August 6th, “…on my way to work, stopped at a light, in a left turn lane, I attempted to accelerate, and the engine just revved and was completely unresponsive. I kept putting it in Park and putting it in Drive. I shut it off and restarted it, and finally, it moved forward, allowing me only five mph forward movement.”
Patricia P. of Williamsville, NY had a similar experience, and her Tucson has been to the dealer three times to address it. She wrote on July 8th, “Intermittently It will not move when I give it gas. The RPMS go up to 6000, but the car won’t move. It’s the DCT transmission. The car is a death trap. Someone is going to get killed.” Heady stuff.
The new 2016 Hyundai Tucson has a lot of positive attributes. My review of the vehicle was positive, and I found it a very fun crossover to drive. It is also one of the safest compact crossovers on the market concerning crash safety and crash avoidance. In a recent test, it was the only crossover tested by IIHS to score Good on the small frontal overlap test on the passenger side of the vehicle. With so much going for it, Hyundai will surely sort these issues out. In the meantime, the Tucson’s cousin, the Kia Sportage, may be an option. It uses a conventional automatic transmission.