Hyundai’s smallest sport-ute has often been overshadowed in the marketplace, but its maker is continually improving the Tucson in hopes of turning it into a segment leader. This year sees some convenience features added to the upper trim levels, and last year saw tweaks to improve fuel mileage. The thriftiest Tucson — the 2.0-liter, automatic-transmission, front-wheel-drive model — earns a 23/32 mpg city/highway rating, but all Tucsons are pretty frugal, partly because the V-6 engine was dropped and the Tucson was redesigned as a slightly larger yet lighter vehicle in 2010. The 2.4-liter engine is powerful enough for most tasks. The interior has lots of hard plastic, but it’s nicely finished and the switchgear is well laid out. The base GL — the only Tucson available with the relatively powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder or the five-speed manual — has cheap-feeling upholstery, but the GLS comes with a nice leatherette and cloth upgrade as well as heated front seats. The top-of-the-line Limited’s standard leather is better than what’s usually found at this price point, and that model comes with a proximity key and automatic climate control and offers a sunroof and navigation. The Tucson has shed the soggy chassis tuning that has characterized Korean cars, and it has merged into the small-crossover mainstream.
new for 2013
GLS models get a lot of new features this year — foglights, automatic headlamps, and heated front seats (now on all GLSs, not just all-wheel-drive ones) — but prices are basically the same as last year’s. A proximity key and push-button starting are newly standard on Limited models.
Front and front side air bags; side curtain air bags with rollover sensors; and active front head restraints are standard on all Tucsons, as are ABS, traction and stability control, electronic brake-force distribution, hill-start assist, downhill brake control, and tire-pressure monitors.
Good fuel mileage
Dynamic, attractive styling
A decent handler
Hyundai’s direct-injected 2.4-liter is unavailable
Base Price Range: $20,070–$27,770
DRIVE: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: GL, GLS, Limited
BODY STYLE: SUV/crossover, 5-passenger
ENGINES: 2.0L I-4, 165 hp, 146 lb-ft
2.4L I-4, 176 hp, 168 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 5-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: 101.9 cu ft
CAPACITIES: Towing 1000–2000 lb; cargo (rear seats up/down) 25.7/55.8 cu ft