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First Drive: 2010 Hyundai Tucson

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2010 Hyundai Tucson

2010 Hyundai Tucson

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• What is it? The latest generation of Hyundai’s popular compact SUV
• The basics: Front- and all-wheel drive plus four-cylinder power
• On sale: Early next year
• Price: Less than $20,000 (est.)

Hyundai only updated its Tucson compact SUV last year with a new four-cylinder engine but the next-generation model has now made its U.S. debut, showcasing the latest iteration of the automaker’s “Fluidic Sculpture” design language.

The 2010 Hyundai Tucson was revealed for the first time back at September’s Frankfurt Auto Show in the form of the European iX35 version. However, we now finally have the full U.S.-specs for the compact SUV--and we're live today from the first drive of the 2010 Tucson in Los Angeles.

2010 Hyundai Tucson

2010 Hyundai Tucson

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The latest addition to Hyundai’s lineup has a much more premium look than its predecessor and also comes with a few new features. Front- and all-wheel drive versions will be offered, but only one engine will be available initially--Hyundai's new Theta II 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 176 horsepower (26% more than its predecessor) and 168 pound-feet of torque.

In addition to the 2.4-liter engine, Hyundai will introduce an even more fuel efficient Blue model for the 2011 model year equipped with a Theta II 2.0-liter engine.

With an overall length of 173.2 inches, a width of 71.7 inches and a height of 66.3 inches (with roof rails), the 2010 Hyundai Tucson has a great stance and road presence. It also means the Tucson has a longer wheelbase and overall width than the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Subaru Forester to deliver more packing efficiency.

2010 Hyundai Tucson

2010 Hyundai Tucson

Enlarge Photo

Furthermore, at 3,203 pounds for an automatic transmission model, the Tucson is lighter than its competitors, while offering more interior room than the Nissan Rogue and Ford Escape.

Accordingly, the Tucson has one of the best fuel economy ratings in its class, with an estimated 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway rating for the automatic model with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive versions return 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

Inside, fitted as standard is Hyundai's signature blue lighting, power windows, power door locks, fold-away mirrors and remote keyless entry with alarm and panic button. Bluetooth hands-free phone system with voice recognition and steering wheel audio and cruise controls are also available.

2010 Hyundai Tucson

2010 Hyundai Tucson

Enlarge Photo

Other available features include leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, power driver seat with lumbar support, automatic headlights, side repeater exterior mirrors, front wiper de-icer and dual front automatic temperature control.

A total of six airbags are also positioned in the 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.

Development for the 2010 Hyundai Tucson took more than 36 months and cost upwards of $225 million. The Tucson has remained one of the most popular Hyundai models with more than one million units sold worldwide since the launch of the original model back in 2004.

[Hyundai]

2010 Hyundai Tucson

2010 Hyundai Tucson

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