Review: 2007 Hyundai Tiburon
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The Hyundai Tiburon is often stranded in left field because many sporty coupe buyers don't associate that South Korean automaker with this type of auto.
It's unfortunate that the front-wheel-drive Tiburon is often overlooked because it long has been one of the most affordable, fun-to-drive small coupes for budget-conscious motorists—especially with an available 172-horsepower V6.
The Tiburon doesn't get much promotion and has competition from newer rivals. Moreover, this coupe doesn't really fit into Hyundai's plans to get a more upscale image, although that shouldn't discourage sporty coupe buyers from checking out the car—budget-minded or not.
The Tiburon is heavy for its size at approximately 2,900 pounds, so the standard 138-horsepower 4-cylinder engine provides just-adequate acceleration. Still, many sporty coupe buyers are more interested in affordable stylishness and solid fuel economy than in 0-60 mph times. And the Tiburon is quick in the city and pretty fast on highways with the V6.
Introduced for 1997, the Tiburon is Hyundai's oldest model. However, it's continually been updated. For instance, all trim levels got anti-lock brakes for 2006, and there was a new GT Limited version with leather upholstery and a power sunroof.
Tiburon prices start at $16,695 for the base 4-cylinder GS with a 5-speed manual transmission. It's followed by the GT, which adds the V6, the sporty SE and the $22,295 GT Limited, which is the costliest version when equipped with an automatic transmission.
Most Tiburons come with a standard 5-speed manual gearbox or 4-speed automatic transmission. The SE is the raciest version and is sold only with a 6-speed manual. That's unusual because two different manual transmissions usually aren't offered for the same engine.
Highest Fuel Economy
Only 87-octane fuel is required, and it's poured past a filler cap with a nicely done pseudo race-car look.
Exclusive Sporty SE
Even the entry GS has air conditioning, tilt wheel, console, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, split-folding rear seat, rear defroster and power windows, mirrors and door locks with remote keyless entry. It rolls on fairly wide 55-series tires on 16-inch wheels.
The GT has the V6, leather/cloth upholstery, automatic climate control, cruise control, leather-wrapped wheel and wider 45-series tires on 17-inch wheels, also found on the SE.
Luxurious GT Limited
Included in options are a $900 power sunroof for the SE, an $1,150 package with cruise control and the sunroof for the GS and an $1,800 package for the GT containing the sunroof and upscale sound system found in the GT Limited.
The SE's shifter works well with a light, long-throw clutch. A 65-75 mph pass is best in fourth gear with the 6-speed manual, and such passing is moderately fast in fifth with that transmission.
The nicely geared steering isn't too fast or too slow. The suspension is firmer on the SE but provides a supple ride.
While handling is good, the car is a bit nose-heavy if pushed hard because of its front-wheel-drive design. The SE has the most athletic moves. Braking is strong, and pedal feel is good.
Tight Rear Seat
Long doors are awkward in tight spots. Front occupants sit low in supportive seats, which means you can't just slide in and out. One drawback is the driver-seat height adjustment—it's manually controlled by a small round control that is tedious to use.
Gauges can be quickly read, and most controls are easy to reach and use. Front doors have pockets, and there are a fair number of small-item storage areas. A useful small touch is sunshade extenders that block sun glare the regular visors don't handle.
Large Cargo Area
There is no need for an awkward prop rod to hold up the hood because it moves up and is held open with twin struts. The engine compartment allows easy reaches to fluid-filler areas.
The Tiburon is not as refined as more expensive Japanese competitors, but it's nicely priced, capable and—most important—generally fun to drive.