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2012 Hyundai Tucson Performance

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On Performance

The Tucson lineup is all four-cylinder, with a price-leading 2.0-liter with 165 horsepower in base versions, offered with either a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic.The better option, in our opinion, is the 2.4-liter four-cylinder, making 176 hp and 168 pound-feet; it feels quite a bit stronger without sacrificing any real-world fuel-efficiency (EPA ratings are lower).

We've driven the manual transmission and liked its light shift action, but the automatic is very smooth and actually more efficient. In either case, while the Tucson doesn't offer the turbocharged engine that's available in the related Kia Sportage, it does perform well, with plenty of reserve power for passing with the 2.4-liter.

Limp steering is a letdown in the 2012 Hyundai Tucson, but its smooth powertrains perform well and are very efficient.

Handling is predictable, but the Tucson rides better than it steers. The slightly firm, settled ride on higher-end versions comes to base versions this year, in the form of more sophisticated shocks and retuned bushings. While the road manners are much better than the last Tucson, the new engine-speed-sensitive electric power steering is a weak spot. It brings with it a small turning circle, great for parking-lot squeezes, but the steering feel isn't as linear as the better electric systems from VW and Ford, and there's little direct feedback from road surfaces. We're also not fans of the mushy, not-so-communicative feel of the brake pedal.

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