New & Used Hyundai Tucson: In Depth
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As a crossover utility vehicle that performs (and looks) more like a tall hatchback, the Hyundai Tucson lands at the small end of the compact class. Competitors include top-sellers like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and Subaru Forester.
At present, the Tucson is powered by a lineup of fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines, as well as an available fuel-cell electric powertrain. All-wheel drive is optional; and off-road ability isn't nearly as much its forte as simply being a versatile, maneuverable vehicle with a high seating point.
MORE: Read our 2015 Hyundai Tucson review
The first-generation Tucson hit the U.S. market in 2005, offering an affordable compact crossover for daily driving with a range of trim levels. The Tucson has carried that basic motif through to the new generation, though over time the engine options have changed.
That 2005 Tucson was available with a 2.0-liter in-line four-cylinder engine rated at 140 horsepower, or a 173-hp 2.7-liter V-6, and a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The Tucson's three trim levels--GL, GLS, and Limited--divided the powertrains up as fit the model. The GL was available only with the four-cylinder engine, and a choice of the manual or automatic transmission. The GLS and Limited, on the other hand, were available with only the V-6 and only the automatic transmission. All models were available with all-wheel drive.
Safety ratings for the first Hyundai Tucson were a strong point, earning five stars in all categories in NHTSA testing from 2005 through the 2009 model year.
Today's Hyundai Tucson
The current-generation Hyundai Tucson was introduced for the 2010 model year, with a much bolder new design and updated engines. The Tucson offers a choice between two four-cylinder engines, either a 2.0-liter four with 165 hp, or a 2.4-liter four that makes 176 hp. There's no longer a V-6 option for any Tucson. A choice of five-speed manual or six-speed automatic on the base engine becomes automatic-only with the bigger powerplant, but all-wheel drive is offered on either.
Today's Tucson is more spacious than the vehicle it replaced. That said, the Tucson doesn't have quite as much interior room as competitors like the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester, but it can easily move four adults comfortably. The most space is found in the front row, while the rear seat offers decent head- and legroom even for taller adults.
Safety ratings have been solid for the current Tucson, with four stars overall from the NHTSA and mostly top 'good' scores from the IIHS; the only major demerit is a 'poor' score on the IIHS's newest test, the small frontal overlap crash test, which keeps it out of contention for the agency's Top Safety Pick status.
The current Tucson has changed relatively little since its 2010 launch. Starting with the 2013 model year, all versions have come with standard air conditioning; power windows, locks, and mirrors; remote keyless entry; cloth seats; and an AM/FM/XM/CD player with a USB port.
The current Tucson is among those Hyundai vehicles included in a restatement of fuel-economy figures. From the 2011 to the 2013 model years, the EPA calculated that many Hyundai vehicles had overstated gas-mileage ratings that did not hold up to confirmation testing performed by the agency. Owners should have received reimbursements for extra fuel used, but they can initiate payment through Hyundai's site, www.hyundaimpginfo.com.
Changes for 2015 are limited. There's a new Popular Equipment Package available on the base GLS model, adding items like a touchscreen radio and power driver's seat, while Limited models now get LED taillights as standard equipment. Hyundai is also launching a fuel-cell-powered electric version of the Tucson, which will be available for lease to customers in Southern California.
A new Tucson is set to arrive for the 2016 model year. It has a new design, with an aggressive and more grown-up look and Hyundai's new large corporate grille. The engine lineup for the U.S. hasn't been announced, but it is likely to include revised four-cylinder powertrains, with a turbocharged four-cylinder a strong possibility.