Hyundai Tucson Overview
When the Hyundai Tucson debuted for the 2005 model year, it represented Hyundai's first entry in the long-established small SUV segment. Although the company's car-based Santa Fe sport-ute has often been grouped in this segment due to its budget price tag, it has always been midsize in its exterior dimensions. The compact Tucson is now Hyundai's official "entry-level" SUV, and its favorable combination of attributes, including an available V6 engine, long list of standard safety equipment and a terrific warranty, make it a strong contender in the under-$20,000 bracket. At its launch, the Tucson was part of a major product initiative in which Hyundai not only sought to launch new models in critical market segments, but also to turn out high-quality products that held their own with the class leaders, particularly those from Japan.
Based on our experience, it is clear that the Hyundai Tucson received ample attention in the area of build quality. The Tucson also is enjoyable to drive by SUV standards. Based on Hyundai's compact car architecture, it's not intended for serious off-road use. But since so few SUV owners do any off-roading to speak of, the Tucson is well positioned to attract small families and urban singles looking for a practical and affordable mini-ute. The five-passenger Hyundai Tucson is a car-based compact SUV. As such, it offers an elevated driving position, a flexible cargo area, predictable handling and respectable fuel economy. The Tucson comes with a four-cylinder engine, and is available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The Hyundai Tucson is available in three trim levels. The base GL is powered by a 140-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive GL models only come with the manual transmission, but regardless of powertrain, GL models are equipped with amenities not expected for the price, such as four-wheel disc brakes, 16-inch alloy wheels and heated outside mirrors. Midgrade GLS models offer more comfort features, as well as a 173-hp 2.7-liter V6 and a four-speed automatic transmission as standard. The top-shelf Limited model adds luxury items such as a sunroof, leather seats, automatic climate control and an upgraded audio system. A navigation system and Kenwood audio system upgrade are optional.
In addition, every Hyundai Tucson has an impressive roster of standard safety Hyundai Tucson Accessories, including antilock brakes, stability control, front seat-mounted side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. GLS and Limited models add tire-pressure monitors to the list. In terms of utility, the Tucson comes with a 60/40-split rear seat that, when folded flat, opens up a very respectable 56 cubic feet of cargo space. In reviews conducted by our editors, this mini-ute earned favorable commentary for its roomy interior and generous list of standard comfort and safety features. On the downside, neither Tucson engine is particularly powerful. The four-cylinder simply doesn't have enough power to motivate the SUV to a satisfactory level, and the V6 hardly seems better than the four-cylinder engines found in some competing SUVs.
Consumers interested in a used Hyundai Tucson will find that little has changed since its introduction for the 2005 model year. In the small SUV's debut year, Hyundai called the top-line model the LX rather than Limited. For '07, a more legible radio faceplate was introduced, while '08 saw the addition of active head restraints, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. It's important to note that Tucsons produced prior to the 2009 model year weren't quite as fuel efficient; engineering refinements were made that year to improve fuel economy by about 5 percent. The navigation system and Kenwood audio system upgrade wasn't available on Tucsons previous to that year either.
Elongated flush-mounted headlamps not only add a strong sense of style but also feature projector beam lenses for improved night-time driving safety. Side mirror housings have been modified to reduce wind noise and also feature an integrated repeater lamp for improved visibility on the Limited trim. A total of six airbags are positioned in the Hyundai Tucson's interior. Dual advanced frontal airbags are complemented by front seat-mounted side-impact airbags and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags with new rollover sensors that cover both the front and rear seat rows. The combination of side and curtain airbags, which help protect the head and body during side impacts, can reduce fatalities by more than 45 percent, according to the IIHS.