Seattle, December 27, 2014 — There can be a bit of a challenge when describing how successful Hyundai has been over the past 5 years or so but this little cross-over Tucson provides some insights as to why. It’s easily one of the most stylish vehicles in its respective category and price point. They have loaded it to the hilt with features, comfort and handling which positions it to easily take on the competition.
Tucson’s small size makes it ideal for a younger couple starting out who might have a child or two but still want some easy-to-access rear cargo area.
The primary drawback to the current configuration of the Tucson is its limited power. The 2.4-liter 4 cylinder engine develops 182-horsepower at 6000 rpm and a mere 177 ft-lb of torque at 4000 rpm. Given the weight of the vehicle at nearly 3,300 pounds with power going to all four wheels, we found less-than-spirited acceleration. Hyundai offers only one transmission, a six-speed with a manual shifting mode that does a fairly good job of making its way through the gears and adapting to conditions.
EPA estimates the fuel economy is 20 around town and 25 on the highway but with only a 15.3 gallon tank, it doesn’t have an extremely far range, we’re talking well below 400 miles on a tank.
Hyundai has done an admirable job of making the Tucson have an assertive stance about it with some decent height to the vehicle with front grill that looks kind of like a happy face. It has a tapering roof line which adds a bit to the sporty look but the overall size looks “too big” for the 18-inch wheel size.
Drivers are rewarded with an Infinity sound system – which is one of the best sounding you’ll find in this class of vehicle. Its interface is easy to navigate through and has a pretty good-sized touch-screen to help in that. Dual climate control, heated seats, multiple power and USB ports are all in tow as is cruise control, tilt-wheel, power locks/windows and hill descent assist. Audio sources come by the way of audio CD, satellite radio, AM/FM and Bluetooth streaming audio.
Onboard navigation works well and doesn’t have too many annoyances when trying to get a point of interest or manually-entered address. It would be great, however, if the map didn’t look somewhat dated and they’d move to a system like Google Earth.
There are nice touches inside with appropriate use of softer materials in key areas, leather seats, well-contrasted color schemes and a good balance of functionality with fashion. Rear seats can easily accommodate two adults in comfort with tons of wiggle room and there’s ample storage in the back. If you need more, just flip down the seats. We also liked the dual glass in the roof which adds an even more upscale feel to everything.
The all-wheel-drive system here is nothing fancy but does give the driver a single push button that will lock the differentials.
Ride comfort is really good but not great in that the seats, while supportive, tend to leave the backside a little uncomfortable on extended time riding around in the Tucson. Handling is good, quite good, actually – in many ways, it feels more like a small car rather than an SUV. The only caveat to that is it does feel a tad too soft over bumps in the road.
There aren’t a ton of areas to fault the Tucson with as it does quite a number of things rather well. It’s a very capable on-road all-wheel-drive vehicle that should do very well with inclimate weather, rides well and has a very nice variety of creature comforts. The chief complaint here is its rather grossly underpowered engine which means you’ll need quite a bit of extra time while passing or getting up to freeway speeds.
It’s very competitive market for this class of an SUV and Hyundai has done an admirable job of equipping the Tucson with enough amnesties to make it a very worth-while vehicle, all things considered. While we definitely don’t like its low horsepower and torque, it is about what one can expect to find in this class at under $30k. You’d have to get up to $35 and over to see drastic gains in engine performance.
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