Hyundai jumps into SUV boom with sleek 2016 Tucson

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After growing steadily for years, Hyundai’s U.S. sales plateaued recently as American buyers increasingly turned to crossover SUVs.

The sleek 2016 Hyundai Tucson SUV about to go on sale is just the start as the Korean automaker looks to join the SUV boom, Hyundai America president and CEO Dave Zuchowski said this week.

In addition to the Tucson, the automaker is looking at new models priced below and above its current lineup.

After growing steadily for years, Hyundai’s U.S. sales plateaued recently as American buyers increasingly turned to crossover SUVs. That’s because 80% of Hyundai’s lineup is cars, but SUVs and trucks account for 56% of U.S. car sales, Zuchowski said.

The new Tucson is three inches longer than the model it replaces. That gives Hyundai a three-SUV – Tucson compact, five-seat Santa Fe Sport midsize and the six- or seven-seat Santa Fe family hauler. That would’ve been fine in the past, but the SUV market has proliferated into more segments.

The next step will probably see people who currently drive compact cars switch to subcompact SUVs like the Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 or the even smaller Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax, Zuchowski said as he introduced the new 2016 Tucson this week. Tucson’s key competitors include the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4.

There’s “definitely room” for a subcompact SUV in Hyundai’s lineup, and possibly for a premium model priced above the Santa Fe, Zuchowski said. Hyundai will probably also rework the Santa Fe to give it room for eight seats like the Toyota Highlander, its key competitor.

(freep.com)

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