Performance » 6
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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
lively, smooth and capable
never thrashy or intrusive
transmission sometimes had to work a little on grades
good compromise between ride comfort and body-motion control
steering 'reeks of robotic artificiality'
Car and Driver
Since it's among the smallest crossovers on the market, the Tucson's four-cylinder engine lineup makes sense. However, we'd recommend only the larger four, though the smaller-displacement engine yields better gas-mileage numbers.
The base engine is a 2.0-liter four that makes 165 horsepower. It's paired with either a six-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission. It's a lower-cost option that keeps the Tucson's base price in sight for some buyers, but in our opinion, the 2.4-liter four-cylinder is the better choice. It's more powerful, at 176 hp and 168 pound-feet of torque, and feels much stronger, though it doesn't suffer much of a gas-mileage drop in real-world combined ratings.We've driven the available manual transmission and it's a likable gearbox, with a light lever and clutch uptake, but you're unlikely to see many on dealer lots. The six-speed automatic is very smooth and actually more efficient. The turbocharged four you'd find in the related Kia Sportage isn't offered in the Tucson but straight-line performance is acceptably average, with enough reserve power for passing with the larger 2.4-liter four.
Ride quality is better than steering feel, and the Tucson's handling has a predictable feel. All versions now have a common set of shocks and bushings that yield a slightly firm, settled ride. 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.
Powertrains are smooth and good on gas, but the Tucson's not very quick, and steering feel is lacking.