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A big field of small crossover vehicles has erupted in the years since the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 were new to the market in the 1990s.The Ford Escape and the Subaru Forester joined the game, followed much later by the Nissan Rogue.
The Hyundai Tucson has been an entry in the niche for years, but it wasn't until 2010 that it became a real player. A new design and new running gear made it the most improved crossover (along with its corporate cousin, the Kia Sportage), and the most fuel-efficient one, too.
The Tucson's best features are its dramatic, anti-SUV looks and its big bucket of standard features. There's some of the same sophistication in the look as you'll find in the Elantra and Sonata sedans this year, and it carries through into the cabin. It's a spacious vehicle, with less interior room than some smaller utes but more than in, say, an Acura RDX. And it's full of the stuff its new owners--commuters and small families--will want, including power features and a USB port, not to mention a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS.
What the Tucson isn't, is a sporty-feeling crossover. The ride's tuned for comfort; the steering and braking need to feel more in touch with the car's road motions, and we're ready for the promised turbo version, since the four-cylinders are only adequate in acceleration.
- Handsome, curvy new look
- Four-cylinder engine is smoother
- Manual transmission shifts well
- Interior is spacious
- Fuel economy tops the class
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- Steering feels digital, lifeless
- Not a quick performer
- Leather seats need more cushioning
- Brakes could be more sensitive