2010 Hyundai Tucson — Review
By James Tate of MSN Autos
With more and more consumers shying away from gas-hungry, full-size sport-utility vehicles, almost every carmaker is jumping on the crossover bandwagon, causing the segment to swell in number of offerings faster than, well, the SUV segment did back in the early '90s when fuel efficiency wasn't even a blip on most car buyers' radars.
To keep its Tucson fresh amid a sea of capable competition, Hyundai has grown the smallish utility vehicle in overall size and given it an efficient 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that's good for up to 31 mpg on the open road. Throw in optional all-wheel drive and the choice of a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission and the Tucson is well-worth the $18,995 base price.
In GLS guise, the Tucson comes with power steering, a tilt steering wheel, power windows and door locks and 17-inch steel wheels. The newest CUV from Hyundai also packs plenty of safety technology. Even in base GLS trim, the car comes with six airbags, anti-lock brakes and enough acronym-laden traction aids to make your head spin. If you can do without the leather interior touches of the Limited model, the GLS delivers plenty of safety at a remarkably low price point.
For a little extra cash, Hyundai will let you outfit the Tucson GLS with features usually found on the more expensive Limited model. The Popular Equipment Package includes a telescoping, leather-wrapped steering wheel and Bluetooth hands-free calling. You can also add a Navigation Package complete with rearview camera for safety when backing up.
Stepping up to Limited trim adds a few luxury amenities like power heated side-view mirrors, 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control and plenty of leather inside. There's also significantly more brightwork outside, with chrome accents on the grille and door handles. More importantly, Bluetooth hands-free calling comes standard on the top-of-the-line Tucson.
Though opting for the Limited trim will give you nearly all of the otherwise optional equipment on the spec sheet, buyers can spring for a Premium package. Along with a massive panoramic sunroof, you also get a good navigation system and premium audio.
Under the Hood
The automatic transmission was developed in-house and is an excellent piece of engineering. The Tucson never spends any time laboring or hunting for a gear, which speaks volumes about the ratio choices and programming expertise of its designers. A downshift comes with each tap of the brakes, ensuring the driver has plenty of power to make a pass or power out of corners.
All-wheel drive is also available on both GLS and Limited models, though it can be paired only with the 6-speed automatic transmission. We can't see that being a huge worry for buyers more interested in a nice interior and pleasant drive over any off-road prowess.
No matter the configuration, the 2010 Tucson isn't a bear at the pump. In front-wheel-drive automatic guise, the CUV can return 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway. Even the thirstier all-wheel-drive, automatic version can manage up to 21/ 28 mpg — pretty solid numbers for a vehicle with this kind of cargo space.
While the Tucson's dash boasts conservative styling, everything is well-laid-out, without the deluge of buttons and dials that so many manufacturers resort to these days. Similarly, the gauge cluster borrows the simple, well-executed look of other Hyundai family members. While there's still plenty of plastic around to remind you you're not driving a BMW, the excellent seats — especially in Limited trim — and solid controls make the Tucson feel like the quality transportation it is.
On the Road
While the Tucson has a tight turning circle, the electric steering lacks feedback, with a wide dead center and vague response at speed. Nissan's Rogue offers better feel, but if you're looking at CUVs, chances are you couldn't care less as long as the steering wheel turns the front wheels. The ride is comfortable and the cabin is quiet — two things that make a huge difference in this segment.
But what's really impressive is how well the smallish 4-cylinder engine handles the Tucson's considerable weight. When fully laden with luxury goodies and the all-wheel-drive system, this Hyundai tips the scales at well over 2 tons. That's a lot for any engine to haul around, much less an economical four cylinder. But the Tucson sings right along without complaint, thanks to that magic 6-speed automatic gearbox and well-developed software to match.
Right for You?
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side asSenior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.