2010 Hyundai Tucson
Date Posted: May 11, 2010
By Zack Spencer
The Hyundai Tucson might just be the best all around compact crossover in the market.
It wasn't that long ago; say ten years ago, when Hyundai was a small player in the Canadian market. They had some good cars but the real thrust towards high quality vehicles still lay ahead. Things sure have changed as Hyundai now make vehicles that consistently rate near the top of quality studies and sales rocketed, for the first time, to over 100,000 units in 2009, making Hyundai a mainstream player. In recent months Hyundai has been so successful that they are getting close to overtaking Honda in sales. With the introduction of this second generation Hyundai Tucson, the future looks even brighter.
Hyundai has a new flowing design language that makes its mark on this Tucson and the latest Sonata. Hyundai describes the look as ''carved by water'', just like a rock is polished and smoothed by water over centuries. And it works. This compact SUV is arguably the best looking in its class, with a design that is solid, classy and appealing from all angles. It is sold in three trim levels with my test unit being the top Limited version. The Limited is easier to spot because it has a chrome grill and larger 18-inch wheels; all others get 17-inch wheels with wheel covers or alloys. Hyundai has a one-two punch in the compact SUV class with this Tucson and the slightly larger and very popular Santa Fe. Hyundai has decided to drop the V6 option in the Tucson because most people opt for the 4-cylinder, but I bet there were some V6 sales that went to the cheaper Tucson instead of the Santa Fe. Confusing things more, this new Tucson is longer, wider and only slightly shorter than the outgoing model, which makes it a cheaper and slightly smaller alternative to the Santa Fe.
The appeal for many Hyundai buyers is the value equation. Basically, you get a lot of features included for less money than the competition. Hyundai is smart and include convenience features that others only include on higher trim levels but they do it as standard equipment. All models come Bluetooth equipped. Hey, on a $160,000 Porsche Bluetooth is an option. Take that Porsche! In addition, a USB jack comes standard as do radio controls on the steering wheel. The model most buyers will choose is the middle of the road GLS, which includes heated seats, telescopic steering, sat-radio, upgraded stereo and interior, along with alloy wheels. And what does all of this cost? Well a base model starts at roughly $23,000 and the middle GLS at just under $27,000, and my fully loaded Limited with navigation is $34,000. I would recommend the GLS because the interior features an upgraded soft touch dash and additional interior accents that really make a big difference.
The Tucson might only be available with a 4-cylinder but that is okay. What you get is a powerful engine that has more output than the old V6. It's a 2.4L unit with 176hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. The combination of good power and a quite interior make this Tucson a surprisingly sophisticated feeling vehicle. Take note if you like to shift the gears yourself. This Tucson is one of a few compact SUV's that is still offered with a manual on the base unit only. All other trim levels get a 6-speed automatic that can be shifted by the driver for more control. That being said... it does a good job, all on its own, of being in the right gear at the right time for the best combination of performance and efficiency. What I find most unique about this Tucson is the solid feel in the ride and steering. If feels like a European ride, not your typical soft North American set up. The electric power steering has been tuned to feel firm, which gives a sense of quality. However, over rough roads the suspension can feel a bit choppy.
It is obvious that Hyundai is trying to make their vehicles well made and the best way to do that is to literally make them feel, back to the driver, like the vehicle is one solid, precise piece of machinery. Mission accomplished. The Tucson surprised me on so many levels. The styling is fantastic, making this a vehicle I would be proud to own. The 4-cylinder engine and 6-speeed automatic work seamlessly together, providing good performance and efficiency. The ride is firm and responsive, this along with the solid steering give a sense on solidity. The Tucson has always been a great runabout compact SUV but this second generation version shows how far and fast Hyundai has come. They make some excellent products and this Tucson is proof of that.
The Good, The Bad
The front wheel drive automatic uses just 9.0 L/100km in the city and just 6.3L on the highway. That works out to 31mpg city and 45mpg highway. This is right up with the best in this class for economy including the Chevy Equinox, Nissan Rogue and Mitsubishi Outlander.
As with most Hyundai products I find that the driver's seat does not go low enough for tall drivers.
Power: 2.4L 4-cylinder with 176hp
Fill-up: 19.0L/6.3L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $22,999-$34,449