Nuts & Bolts: 2010 Hyundai Tucson

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The bottom line: The Hyundai Tucson, originally introduced in 2004 as a 2005 model, has been upgraded to a genuine contender with the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4. Given the new Tucson's superior value -- the measure of quality and overall value per dollar spent -- here's betting that it will increase market share at the expense of all of its rivals.

Complaints: I found none in the day's drive, at least none that would upset most normal drivers, such as young families and empty-nesters in need of a daily urban hauler.

Head-turning quotient: The dramatically sculpted exterior panels of the new Tucson attract many but repel others. It is an emotional design. Considering rivals' boxy styling, that is a very good thing.

Ride, acceleration, handling: Ride was comfortable in both versions. Acceleration was competent -- quick, safe highway lane changes.

Body style/layout: The Hyundai Tucson is a compact, front-engine crossover utility vehicle based on the Hyundai Elantra car platform. It is available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. It has four side doors and a rear hatch.

Engine/transmissions: All 2010 Tucson models, of which there are nine styles, use a 2.4-liter, 16-valve inline four-cylinder engine that develops 176 horsepower at 6,000 revolutions per minute and 168 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. In the Tucson GLS, that engine is linked to a standard six-speed manual transmission. In the Limited, it gets a six-speed transmission that can be shifted automatically or manually.

Capacities: All Tucson models have seats for five people. Cargo capacity with rear seats up is 25.7 cubic feet. With rear seats folded, it's 56 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 14.5 gallons of recommended regular gasoline.

Mileage: Most Tucson driving was done on the highway, where, yes, I averaged 30 miles per gallon in both the GLS and Limited.

Safety: Standard equipment includes six air bags, four-wheel antilock disc brakes (ventilated front/solid rear), electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability and traction control.

Price: The 2010 Tucson GLS starts at $18,995 with a dealer's invoice price of $18,296. The Limited starts at $25,845 with a dealer's invoice of $24,544. Both carry an additional $795 transportation charge. Available options include onboard navigation and a panoramic glass roof. Prices are sourced from Hyundai.

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