All images by Anne Proffit
Hyundai's smaller crossover, the handsome Tucson was redesigned in 2010 and needed few if any upgrades for the 2011 sales season. Based on a unibody design, the Tucson is very car-like in its responses and very easy to drive and enjoy.
After spending a week with a 2011 Hyundai Tucson GLS PZEV FWD, just one down from the top-of-the-line Limited model, I have to say that, overall, I do like this machine for its value, its affordability and, as is the case with most Hyundai products these days, its overall quality.
The PZEV nomenclature designates a vehicle that has partially zero emissions controls and, as an added feature on this Tucson, the mileage is superb for a machine weighing 3203 pounds - it's rated at 22/31 mpg using regular unleaded. I was shocked to find my second tank, consumed in rather spirited driving, amounted to an average of 33 mpg from the 14.5-gallon tank! Not bad, eh?
The 2011 Hyundai Tucson GLS is powered by a 170-horsepower (at 6000 rpm) in-line 2.4-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine; it makes 163 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm and redline is 6250 rpm, enabling the Tucson to loaf at 2200 rpm at 70 mph. Shifted by a six-speed automatic transmission with manual capabilities, the Tucson is smooth and capable, albeit not a champ at stoplight derbies.
MacPherson struts at the front and multi-link rear suspension includes dual stabilizer bars; while the ride is on the firm side, with the short wheelbase Tucson it's all doable. Four-wheel disc brakes have electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, as well as downhill brake control and hill-start assist.
Hyundai fits traction and electronic stability controls for the Tucson GLS. Motor-driven power steering has a wee bit of numbness on-center that's unnoticeable after a few days. Turning circle is a nice 34.7 feet. Twinned five-spoke alloy rims sit on Kumho 225/60R17 tires. They are quiet and compliant.
This is a compact SUV/crossover at 173.2 inches length, 71.7 inches width, 66.3 inches height, riding on a 103.9-inch wheelbase. Ground clearance on this front-wheel-drive model is 6.7 inches
With a starting price of $22,640 including destination, the Chai Bronze/black cloth Tucson driven here has two options. The navigation package includes a central navigation system with 6.5-inch touch screen, rearview camera, premium CD-based, satellite-radio-equipped audio with external amp and subwoofer and automatic headlights for $2000 and carpeted floor mats for $180, bringing the total to a value-filled $24,740.
There are double 12-volt plugs at the base of the central stack, along with auxiliary, iPod and USB plug-ins and cables. There's a grippy floor to this area and open buttresses so we can reach in from the side. The driver's window is one-touch only; all others must be operated with finger firmly on-switch. The grippy leather steering wheel has audio controls on the left, the excellent cruise system on the right, while the phone operations on the lower left and right of the steering wheel.
There's a deep central covered storage and visor extensions. One controls the trip computer through a Trip button located next to the tachometer gauge. Nubby plastics look softer than they are but the quality is right there. Unfortunately, there was no cargo cover for the hatch area but there is a 12-volt plug back there and hooks for aftermarket netting. Seams and closures are uniform and world-class.
The 2011 Hyundai Tucson drives nicely and steps out without complaint. It handles windy freeways and pot-hole-ridden city streets without complaint and isn't bad on the twisty roads, either. It's got the full complement of air bags to save us from ourselves at the front and side. There are head curtains in all three pillars. Rearward vision is a bit compromised but can be overcome by proper mirror placement.
The Tucson - which continues to use a key - has good space in the rear for three full-size people, but there is no rear ventilation for those occupants. There are cupholders in all four doors and a pull-down armrest has dual beverage holders as well. There are pockets in the front seatbacks, too.
I have a few quibbles with this vehicle: the navigation system tilts upwards and washes out in all but night lights; the blue-hued fuel and temperature gauges set in between the well-hooded tachometer and speedometer are nearly invisible in daylight, as well. For me, those two items could be deal-breakers.
Hyundai's warranty is exemplary, as everyone knows, offering basic coverage of five years/60,000 miles and drivetrain warranty for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Thankfully the quality of all Hyundai products has grown to be amongst the best in the industry so the warranty can be construed - in most instances - to be a moot point.
Were it not for the two items I didn't like on the Tucson, I think it would be a no-brainer to select this vehicle. With its space considerations - how about the 25.7-cubic-foot hatch area that extends to 55.8 cubes with rear seats folded - and the overall quality of construction, the Tucson is a major player in the small, SUV/CUV arena.
© 2011 Anne Proffit