2010 Hyundai Tucson Review

2010 Hyundai Tucson - More of a good thing.


Vehicle Tested
2010 Hyundai Tucson Limited
Base Price: $24,345
At-Tested Price: $28,090
Built in South Korea.

Premium Package
Floor Mats

Engine: 2.4-Liter I4
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Drive Wheels: Front-Wheel Drive

South Korean automaker Hyundai is moving so quickly it's hard to keep up with the players. The 2010 lineup includes  three new or significantly revised models with three more to be added for 2011. Sales have grown to the point where Hyundai has become a major player in the U.S. market.

One of the most significant Hyundai launches for 2010 is an all-new Tucson. Playing in the compact crossover SUV market, Tucson plies its trade against vehicles like the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4. Like all of those vehicles, the Tucson is a four-door wagon that seats five on twin front buckets and a three-place rear bench.

Two models are offered, GLS and Limited. Both are available with front- or all-wheel drive and are powered by a 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The GLS is available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Limited models come only with the six-speed automatic.

Standard safety features on both models include antilock four-wheel disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, hill ascent/descent control, tire-pressure monitor, front-seat active head restraints, and dual-front, front-side and curtain-side airbags. A rear-view camera is included with the optional navigation system.

The front-drive GLS starts at $18,995 and includes air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, center console, split-folding rear seat, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with digital-media player connection and iPod adapter, satellite radio, trip computer, variable-intermittent wipers, rear defogger, rear wiper/washer, theft-deterrent system, rear spoiler, and 225/60R17 tires.

The front-drive Limited lists for $24,345 and adds to the GLS dual-zone automatic climate controls, tilt-telescope leather-wrapped steering with radio controls, cruise control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, power driver seat, heated power mirrors with turn signals, Bluetooth cell-phone connection, wiper deicer, illuminated visor mirrors, cargo cover, automatic headlights, rear privacy glass, roof rails, fog lights, 225/55HR18 tires and alloy wheels.

All-wheel drive adds $1500 and includes a locking center differential. Towing capacity is 1000 pounds without trailer brakes, 2000 pounds with trailer brakes.

A navigation system with real-time traffic information is a new feature for Tucson. It is optional on both GLS and Limited. Available only on Limited is a panoramic sunroof.  Tucson is built in South Korea and has a destination charge of $795.

Get Up and Go  At 2.4-liters and 173 horsepower, the Tucson four has enough power for around-town driving and light-duty towing. However, passing power is just average and adding a full-compliment of passengers and cargo will relegate you to the slow lane.

Thankfully the automatic transmission shifts smoothly and downshifts promptly in passing situations. It's not perfect as the one-two shift can be a bit abrupt, but overall, the transmission compliments the engine nicely and does its best to balance the need for performance with the desire for increased fuel efficiency.

The all-wheel drive system doesn't have a low range and isn't intended for severe off-road use. It will handle Chicago's snow-covered roads no problem and is a boon on wet pavement, as the front-drive model tends to spin the front wheels quite easily.

Front-drive models are EPA rated at 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, impressive for a five-passenger crossover SUV and on par with some midsize sedans. Hyundai says Tucson runs fine on regular-grade gasoline.

In light-duty commuting expect to average about 25 mpg--a few mpg better if your commute is mostly highway and a few mpg worse if you're a city slugger. Straight highway driving yields a surprising 30 mpg at a sustained 70 mph.

On the Road  As it should, the Tucson trades some handling prowess for passenger comfort. The new Tucson offers a pleasant ride that's neither harsh nor flaccid. The suspension does a good job of absorbing large impacts without introducing too much secondary motion or head toss--a common trait in SUVs.

Given its size and mission, Tucson feels agile and sure footed. It's not sporty by any means, but is quite maneuverable around town and secure on the highway. Enthusiastic drivers will be off-put by too much body lean in quick maneuvers. The steering has good weight but no on-center feeling and that makes long-distance highway driving tiring.

Thanks to a ruckus engine and noisy tires, Tucson isn't the quietest compact crossover around.

Behind the Wheel   The 2010 Tucson sports an interior that's significantly upgraded over the previous model. Materials are still more sturdy than luxurious but the overall effect of the design is fresh and modern. Pop for the optional Popular Equipment Package on the GLS or go with the Limited and you get a few more soft-touch surfaces that spruce things up a bit.

The layout is fairly conventional. Driver's face two large dials from behind the steering wheel. The center stack is pushed into the cabin to make it easier to reach for both driver and passenger. It features easy to operate radio and climate controls. The optional navigation system brings with it the normal clutter of buttons and knobs, but it's operation is fairly straightforward.

Front-seat passengers have adequate head and leg room, though the driving position is more upright than some and the active head restraint places the headrest directly behind the driver's head. The seats are firm and just adequately supportive in quick lane changes. Entry exit isn't a problem as Tucson sits only slightly higher than a typical sedan.

Rear-seat room is typical for the class, meaning adequate for two adults or three kids. Leg room grows tight if you push the front seats all the way back. Sitting three across will squeeze everyone and there's a modest floor hump that doesn't exist on some competitors.

Cargo room is on par with other compact crossovers. There's good room with the rear seats up for three or four golf bags and folding the seats down means lots of extra space for loading longer items. Hyundai ditched the separate-opening glass of the previous model and opted for a one-piece rear hatch. That means you have to open the tailgate no matter what. There are lots of storage bins throughout and a deep center console bin.

Bottom Line  With the 2010 redesign, Hyundai made a good vehicle even better. The new Tucson offers more refinement, features, and room than the model it replaces, all at about the same cost.

It's hard not to like the new Tucson. It boasts reasonable prices and a long list of standard features. About the only serious flaw is too much interior noise. The list of competitors is long, though, so make sure you shop around for the compact crossover that's right for you.

Specifications, 2010 Hyundai Tucson Limited
4-door wagon
Wheelbase, in.
Size, liters/cu. in.
2.4 / 147
Length, in.
Horsepower @ rpm
176 @ 6000
Width, in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) @ rpm
168 @ 4000
Height, in.
6-Speed Automatic
Weight, lbs.
EPA Estimates, mpg
23 city / 31 highway
Cargo Capacity, cu. ft.

Fuel Capacity, gals.
Manufacturer's Warranty
Seating Capacity
5 years / 60,000 miles
Front Head Room, in.
10 years / 100,000 miles
Front Leg Room, in.
7 years / Unlimited miles
Second-Row Head Room, in.
Free Roadside Assistance
5 years / 60,000 miles
Second-Row Leg Room, in.
Free Scheduled Maintenance

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.