Hyundai's been giving all of its vehicles a total makeover, and the transformation couldn't be more dramatic for the compact Tucson. The 2012 Tucson truly says farewell to Hyundai's plainer past and wears the "fluidic sculpture" look well, as does most of the lineup at this point--including the new Accent and Veloster.
It's a brash look for a company that thrived on conservative looks for a decade, dramatic, attention-seeking and attention-getting in its anti-SUV stance. There might be an inch of straight line in its silhouette, the rest given up to curves and surfacing that swells at the fenders and crests at the front and rear. For the Tucson, the design is a world effort, hailing from Hyundai's European design studios, teamed with those in Korea and the United States, with perhaps more than a casual nod to the Nissan Rogue and the Euro-market Ford Kuga.
And in a field that's still pretty heavily influenced by old-school SUVs, we think the new styling theme really sets the Tucson apart. It's curved, crested, and looks quite upscale from its nose to its tail, almost like a miniature luxury crossover. It gets a little tall and thick toward the rear--some problems can't be resolved with arcs of chrome trim, after all--but the angular taillamps drop some of the visual weight out of the rear end.
Hyundai hits the same global high note with the cabin of the 2012 Tucson. The interior's just a shade less dramatic, with a big LCD screen and vertical blades of metallic trim knifing into bands of tightly grained, low-gloss black plastic. There are better-finished interiors in this class, but it's still a standout design.