2010 Hyundai Tucson Improved To Near Perfection

May 9, 2010

The 2010 Hyundai Tucson GLS compact crossover is one handsome machine, especially dressed in cotton white paint that shows off the explicitly curvaceous lines of its exterior. This is a redesigned model for the 2010 selling season and it’s so much nicer than the previous generation Tucson that the difference is like day and night.

Hyundai has always been known for making vehicles that have great value, particularly with its 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-year/60,000-mile standard warranty. Hyundai products have been less expensive alternatives to their competition but in the past, some just weren’t up to the quality of many vehicles they were competing against.

That’s changed a bunch, particularly with this compact crossover. The GLS model driven here with front-wheel drive is the entry-level machine and it carries a very reasonable starting price of just $18,995.

There are only two options on the Tucson: Hyundai’s popular equipment package of telescoping steering wheel, 17 inch twinned five-spoke alloys (riding on Kumho 225/60R rubber), driver’s one-touch down/up window, leatherette bolsters for the cloth seats, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, illuminated vanity mirrors, steering wheel audio (left) and cruise controls (right) with phone below that, body color door handles and (heated) mirrors, side sills, privacy glass, roof rack side rails and an engine cover for $1,700. Carpeted floor mats add another $100. The price of the model tested was a grand total of $22,590 including freight.

The pricing is nice but the vehicle itself is what will send buyers to the showroom. Even as an entry-level crossover, the Hyundai Tucson GLS has standard features many other manufacturers charge extra for. There’s keyless entry with alarm, air conditioning with cabin air filter, CD-equipped audio with iPod, USB and auxiliary input jacks for all, XM satellite radio (gratis for 90 days), multi-function trip computer, ECO (that’s economy) indicator and privacy glass.

Acceleration is readily available with the 2.4-liter, 16-valve DOHC four-cylinder engine with 176 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 168 pound-feet of torque at four grand. This new engine is smooth and eager, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that loafs at 2,250 rpm at 75 mph with a 6,500 rpm redline. Deceleration is excellent too with all-wheel disc brakes sporting ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, downhill brake control and hill-start assist control.

Safety hasn’t been overlooked on the 2010 Hyundai Tucson GLS. There are a plethora of safety features including advanced front airbags, side impact bags for the front seat occupants and head curtain airbags with rollover sensors. Hyundai also fits a tire pressure monitoring system and active front head restraints.

The looks of the Tucson are extremely inviting, inside and out. There’s a taut bodyline that accents the exterior and leads the eye to the articulated front fenders. The upswept snout with a body-color grille looks inviting, as do the rear teardrop lamps and the accented rim of the large rear hatch window. In this white color, a black bottom rim just ties it all together.

The symmetry of this exterior extends to the interior. This is one handsome cabin and it’s extremely well appointed, looking and acting far more elegant than the pricetag would indicate. Gauges are black with blue borders, white numbers and red pointers. Between the tachometer and speedometer is an information area that has blue LED temperature and fuel gauges that tend to wash out a bit.

On my particular test vehicle, the interior is bi-color, with dark and light taupe plastic accented by matte silver touches--including the center of the steering wheel. The central stack’s LED information display is easy to read and there’s a bit of hooding over the CD slot. At the base of the central stack are a pair of 12 volt plugs and the balance of the audio inputs. Two rather large cupholders--best for Big Gulp-type beverages--do tend to make drinks wobble around, but the cupholders in all four doors can take care of smaller items.

There’s good space for three people in the rear of the cabin with tons of legroom and there is a pulldown armrest with shallow cupholders. There are also 60/40 fold for the rear seats that will increase the 25.7 cubic-feet (uncovered) hatch space to a maximum of 56 cubic-feet. The spare tire lies beneath the hatch floor together with its tools.

The 2010 Hyundai Tucson is of a standard size for the breed at 173.2 inches long, 71.7 inches wide and 65.2 inches tall. Wheelbase is an excellent 103.9 inches, ground clearance is 6.7 inches allows good ingress/egress, and the Tucson weighs in at 3,203 pounds. Turning circle is 34.7 feet--not bad at all for a front-wheel drive vehicle of its size.

This crossover is rated at 23/31 mpg city/highway by the EPA and it runs on regular fuel. There is a release on the floor for the fuel filler cap. Our mileage, according to the trip computer accessed through the trip odometer button, said that our mostly around-town mileage was close to 28 mpg on a vehicle that had nearly 6,000 miles on it, nicely broken in. It’ll tow 2,000 pounds and handle a payload of 1,294 pounds, according to Hyundai.

What is most impressive about this 2010 Hyundai Tucson GLS is its fun-to-drive nature, its sporting handling and it’s excellent build quality. Controls are simple on the Tucson and the cabin is both a comfortable (good manual seats with height control) and easy on the eyes.

Hyundai has made a grand leap forward with its new Tucson and made it a crossover anyone that’s in the market should consider taking home for a few years, or more. © Anne Proffit 2010

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