With the Santa Fe already in its lineup, Hyundai has a second sport utility vehicle on sale for 2005. The new four-door Tucson is smaller than the compact Santa Fe, and it went on sale in the fall of 2004. Hyundai intends for it to compete against the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
Either a four-cylinder or V-6 engine may be installed in the Tucson, and a manual transmission is available for four-cylinder models. Both versions may be equipped with front-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive. Front, side-impact and side curtain-type airbags are standard, giving the Tucson a total of six airbags. The Tucson comes in three trim levels: GL, GLS and LX.
The South Korean automaker says the Tucson has a masculine, athletic appearance. The GLS and LX models feature bodyside cladding. The door handles are black on the GL and body colored on GLS and LX models. Wraparound headlights and an LED-type center brake light are installed. A single-bar grille contains the Hyundai logo.
Alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires. Fog lamps are installed on the GLS and LX, and a power tilt/sliding sunroof is optional. The Tucson has a fully independent suspension, with MacPherson struts up front, a strut setup with multi-links at the rear and anti-roll bars at both ends. Riding a 103.5-inch wheelbase, the Tucson is 170.3 inches long overall and 66.1 inches tall (not counting the roof rack).
The Tucson's five-passenger interior includes a 60/40-split, flat-folding rear seat. The fully reclining front passenger seat can be folded forward. The plastic cargo floor has multiple tie-down locations. Cargo space is 11.5 cubic feet with the rear seat up and 28.4 cubic feet with the seat down.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning, power windows and locks, heated mirrors, cruise control, tinted glass, an intermittent rear wiper and a six-speaker CD stereo. The GLS adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a stereo with cassette, CD and MP3 capabilities. The LX model has leather seating surfaces and an in-dash six-CD changer. The Tucson has an easy-to-clean composite cargo floor. A CD stereo is standard in the GL, while a cassette/CD/MP3 stereo system goes in the GLS model, and the LX gets an in-dash six-CD changer.
Under the Hood
The GL gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with Continuously Variable Valve Timing that delivers 140 horsepower. Either a five-speed-manual gearbox or a Shiftronic four-speed-automatic transmission may be installed. In GLS and LX models, a 2.7-liter V-6 engine — offered only with an automatic transmission — generates 173 hp. The available BorgWarner Electronic InterActive Torque Management four-wheel-drive system can divert up to 50 percent of available power to the rear wheels in response to changing road conditions or torque needs. A dashboard-mounted button lets the driver lock the driveline into a 50/50 torque split, front to rear.
Side curtain-type airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags, an electronic stability system and all-disc antilock brakes with traction control are standard.
The Tucson leans toward the cushiony end of the ride and handling spectrum rather than the sporty side. The ride is pleasantly smooth on most surfaces, but undulating pavement and even moderate bumps can transmit some roughness to occupants. The Tucson is easy to drive and requires little correction on straightaways, but handling is relatively humdrum compared to the Ford Escape compact SUV.
Tire noise is noticeable on some surfaces, and some engine buzz is apparent in lower gears with a manual transmission. Otherwise, the Tucson is impressively quiet.
The seats are quite supportive and reasonably comfortable. Cargo space falls short of the Santa Fe, but the area is easy to access. Thick D-pillars block the over-the-shoulder views a bit, but visibility is otherwise satisfying because of the long glass in the rear doors.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Joe Wiesenfelder||Cars.com National||March 10, 2005|
|Jim Flammang||Cars.com National||June 23, 2005|
|Kristin Varela||Mother Proof||April 26, 2005|
|Mark Glover||The Sacramento Bee||April 22, 2005|
|Dan Neil||Los Angeles Times||February 16, 2005|
|Bob Golfen||AZCentral.com||February 5, 2005|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||January 30, 2005|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||November 28, 2004|
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