11 January 2016: Following a dismal offset frontal crash test result in September 2015 that saw the Hyundai Tucson awarded only four stars on safety, Hyundai completed an engineering revision of the front footwell structure in the Tucson. The vehicle was re-crashed independently on December 9, 2015 and upgraded to five stars on safety.

The five-star rating applies to South Korean-built Hyundai Tucson manufactured from 17 November 2015, and to European-built Tucson from 16 December 2015.

Make sure you don't purchase a Hyundai Tucson manufactured before these critical dates - ensure the date is part of any purchase contract and also the country of manufacture. Do not take a car dealer's word on it.

The earlier test saw the vehicle fail to achieve the minimum requirements for five star in the offset frontal crash test. The aim of which is to simulate in a controlled way a clipping head-on collision on the driver's side of the vehicle, at 64km/h. In that earlier test, the vehicle scored just 11.46 from a possible 16 points and thus failed to achieve the minimum 12.5 points required to be awarded five stars. Independent experts determined the protection for the driver's feet and lower left leg was "marginal". Driver foot protection was upgraded to "good" (the highest rating) and lower legs to "acceptable".

After the structural revision on the footwell was implemented by Hyundai engineers, the second (December 9) offset frontal crash test delivered a score of 14.53 out of 16 - well into the league of elite performers in this safety-critical test. The Tucson lost no other points in the remainder of the assessment process, delivering a total score of 35.53 out of a possible 37 points overall. 

At the time of the four-star announcement I revised my recommendation on the Tucson to 'Don't Buy' (because I don't recommend four-star cars, SUVs or utes; the risk is excessive). Now I'm pleased to say the vehicle is right at the top of my recommended list among five-seater SUVs. I say 'pleased' because having road tested the range, I'm confident the Hyundai Tucson is actually a Mazda CX-5 killer - and Mazda CX-5 is good. Very good.

It's also great to see a manufacturer react positively to a bad result in this way - there's no doubt in my mind that lives will be saved and trauma reduced as a result of this revision. (Don't forget that your femoral artery runs all the way to your foot - so a 'high mechanism' injury anywhere in your leg can prove quickly fatal.)

Tucson is a CX-5 killer on consumer criteria because:

  • Tucson offers two more years warranty than the Mazda CX-5 (five years versus three) Tucson has a full-sized alloy spare wheel and tyre (Mazda CX-5: space saver) 
  • Tucson has capped-price service for life
  • Tucson has true annual servicing (12mths or 15,000km) whereas Mazda CX-5 has 12mths/10,000km service (which means every eight months for average drivers)
  • Tucson 1.6 turbo makes more power across a broader rev range than the Mazda 2.5 it's pitted against
  • Tucson 2.0 petrol makes more power at lower revs than the Mazda 2.0
  • Tucson 2.0 diesel also makes more power across more revs than the 2.2 diesel from Mazda
  • Tucson is also a compelling value proposition compared with the CX-5, and is every bit as good to drive. (And if you line them up together Tucson makes the CX-5 look dated.)

More in my Hyundai Tucson video review >>

Still keen on CX-5? (It's a good SUV)? Check my Mazda CX-5 Buyer's Guide >>