Shopping for a new Hyundai Tucson?
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
lively, smooth and capable
never thrashy or intrusive
transmission sometimes had to work a little on grades
fuel economy a "big selling point
good compromise between ride comfort and body-motion control
steering "reeks of robotic artificiality
Car and Driver
The 2010 Tucson moves in a more economical, fuel-efficient direction for power, while it also gets better at negotiating curves.
With either front- or all-wheel drive, all 2010 Tucsons come with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 176 hp and 168 pound-feet of torque. The available four-cylinder propels the Tucson quicker than, say, the Honda CR-V to 60 mph, but a rough reading of speed puts its 0-60 mph time in the 10-second range. USA Today reports the four-cylinder "felt lively, smooth and capable," and calls it "more pleasant to drive than rivals' four-bangers." It feels more sluggish from a standstill than at highway speeds-Cars.com contends it's a "capable acceleration around town, but uphill stretches left me wanting for last year's V-6" and its torque. The engine is smooth and relatively vibration-free, "never thrashy or intrusive in nature," Edmunds declares. Next year, Hyundai will offer a Tucson Blue model with a 2.0-liter four and slightly better fuel economy, "the fuel-economy and price leader," Motor Trend says.
Either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual gearbox can be fitted; the manual transmission has a long throw but smooth action. USA Today says it's "an easy joy" with a "light-touch clutch"-but Cars.com finds it has "medium throws and poorly defined gates." The automatic will account for almost 95 percent of all Tucson sales, Hyundai predicts, and it's fine for most urban duties, with reasonably quick responses to throttle changes. The six-speed automatic has a sport-shift mode but no paddles at fingertip reach, so it's a rare occasion you'll actually engage the sport mode. It "sometimes had to work a little on grades," Motor Trend notes, "but putting it in manual mode on twisty mountain roads eliminated any hunting." USA Today likes that the automatic lacks "goofy steering-column shift paddles that are...laughably silly in many modern family cars."
Fuel economy is 23/31 mpg for front-drive versions and 21/28 mpg for all-wheel-drive Tucsons-a good measure better than in the Honda CR-V or Escape. Cars.com says the numbers are "impressive, pretty evenly matching the uncommonly efficient four-cylinder Chevy Equinox," and Automobile agrees. As Autoblog points out, the Tucson has a "little green ‘Eco Indicator' light that shows up when you're driving in a fuel-friendly manner." In a "suddenly mileage conscious America," they add, "this is a big selling point."
In general, the Tucson's road manners are significantly improved over the prior edition. TheCarConnection's editors find the Tucson's ride quality pleasant enough, especially in the backseat. Other reviewers discover the same. Motor Trend describes the Tucson's "fully independent suspension" as part of the package that generates what Cars.com calls "acceptable" ride quality. "The suspension preserves decent comfort," they feel, "but bumps make their way up to occupants easily enough." Yet more reviewers believe the Tucson has good ride control-Edmunds cites its "good compromise between ride comfort and body-motion control," while Automobile describes a "pleasantly firm suspension that provides nearly flat cornering attitudes," though Motor Trend does note "the suspension doesn't absorb enough of the impact of hitting a pothole." Even with the optional all-wheel drive, the Tucson's handling is improved; the system can be locked for equal torque distribution to front and rear wheels, and Edmunds "couldn't detect any substantial difference in control feel between the front- and all-wheel-drive models." However, Car and Driver reports the AWD Tucson "has a stiffer suspension that clops down harder on the rough stuff."
The Tucson's electric power steering attracts the most negative comments. The feel of its engine-speed-sensitive electric power steering leaves TheCarConnection.com's editors unimpressed despite its tight 34.7-foot turning circle. USA Today calls it "well-tuned, with good on-center feel on straight roads and responsive turning and road feel in the snaky stuff," and Cars.com deems it "natural" and "well-weighted," but most other reviews dislike the feel. "At 60 mph, its steering suddenly becomes monstrously heavy," Car and Driver points out, also commenting it "reeks of robotic artificiality." Motor Trend calls it "a bit artificial," and Edmunds also cites the "slightly artificial feel."
Braking pedal feel is lacking, too, though the Tucson comes standard with anti-lock control. "The pedal's linear response is on par with others in this class," Cars.com observes.
The 2010 Hyundai Tucson raises its performance game, but it needs more power and more steering feel.