STANDING out in the family SUV sector is no easy task these days with models seemingly being launched every week or so. But that's just what the latest Hyundai Tucson aims to do.
With a wide choice of trim levels, powertrains and even the option of two- or four-wheel-drive, customers have plenty of up-front decisions to make.
The Tucson is not exactly a newcomer to the scene as it's been around in various guises for 16 years now with seven million global sales making it the company's top-selling SUV.
But the latest, fourth generation model really raises the bar boasting a distinctive design, best-in-class safety package and a wealth of on-board technology as standard.
The five-door Tucson looks athletic when approached from any angle with a large front grille, front and rear skid plates, privacy glass, roof rails, body-coloured bumpers, daytime running lights and neat 19-inch alloy wheels.
Move inside and the clean, elegant interior offers excellent levels of comfort with light pouring in through the panoramic sunroof and ambient lighting throughout.
Creature comforts are plentiful and our range-topping Tucson Ultimate model, costing £37,195, featured a 10.25-inch touchscreen navigation system, an eight-speaker Krell sound system, smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, Bluetooth, three-zone climate control, a wireless phone charging pad and plenty more besides.
And it's always nice to have completely separate controls for all the climate settings and heated seats rather than having to navigate a touchscreen menu.
There is a 10.25-inch digital cluster behind the steering wheel that can be fully personalised and Hyundai's Bluelink Connected Services set-up with a five-year subscription. This adds features such as remotely locking and unlocking the vehicle, planning navigation routes, monitoring fuel levels and lots more besides from an app.
Our car was powered by a 1.6-litre 230hp petrol hybrid engine with six-speed automatic gearbox. It could complete the 0-62mph dash in 8.0 seconds, topped out at 120mph and, according to official figures, delivered a combined 49.6mpg with carbon emissions of 131g/km.
When it comes to performance, the Tucson is a classy piece of kit that is happy cruising along motorways, firing through the country lanes or weaving through busier city settings with its agile handling. It adapts perfectly to each challenge.
The road holding is good provided tighter curves are given some respect and the suspension system does a worthy job of smoothing out bumps and dips along the way.
There are two drive modes called Eco or Sport that alter the mannerisms of the Tucson considerably and even the instrumentation takes on a red glow in Sport mode.
The acceleration through the auto gearbox is nicely timed and you can use steering wheel mounted paddles for added driver engagement. Another plus-point is the nicely weighted steering with ample driver feedback.
All controls, dials and readouts are ideally positioned for ease of use and the slightly elevated seating means the driver benefits from clear all-round visibility.
My one criticism is the constant noises this car's clever technology throws at you. It seems to be pinging and beeping with warning signals at every turn and even the indicators are really loud, which on a positive note means they are impossible to forget about and accidently leave on. But that was my only real criticism after a week behind the wheel.
The latest Tucson has had a growth spurt too and, as a result, is 20mm longer, 15mm wider and features a wheelbase that is 10mm longer. This means rear passengers benefit from 26mm of extra legroom and the boot has grown in capacity too. With all seats upright, it can swallow 616 litres of kit, but this limit increases to 1,795 litres with the split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
In addition, there are numerous handy storage compartments scattered throughout the car, including a deep glovebox, practical cubby box, door bins, cup holders and a tray.
There is a comprehensive list of safety features fitted to the Tucson, and although the vehicle has not been crash tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating, it is expected to score highly.
Safety kit includes blind spot collision warning, blind spot collision avoidance, downhill brake control, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic collision warning and avoidance, trailer stability assist, high beam assist, Isofix child seat anchor points on rear outer seats, driver attention warning and lots more besides.
Our car had an optional Tech Pack included costing £1,300 and that introduced electronic control suspension, around view monitor, remote park smart assist and a rather quirky blind spot view monitor which is activated when you flick the indicator stalk and shows a camera view of the blind spot in the instrument cluster.