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2010 Hyundai Tucson: Up Close

The 2010 Tucson is a lot more contemporary than the model it replaces. Based on a new platform, which it shares with the new Sonata sedan, the Tucson has a longer wheelbase and is a few inches longer than the outgoing model. It looks sharp, exhibiting the new Hyundai family resemblance when viewed from the front. Once you walk around it, you might see Infiniti in the bulbous headlights, Buick in the side accent lines and Lexus in the rear haunches. At least I did. For what it’s worth, similar observations could be made of virtually any new design these days.

Only two Tucson trim levels are available, and naturally the two Tucsons on display at the auto show were of the higher level, the Limited. As we’ve come to expect, the interiors are appointed to compete; they’re certainly as high in quality as some small crossovers and nicer than most. From the dashboard and door panels to the optional leather seats, there’s a consistency you won’t find in the Honda CR-V. My only quibble is the silver-colored plastic finish, but I’ve become a broken record on that issue (a broken CD for you younger folks…or a corrupted MP3 file). I much prefer the piano-black bezel around the shifter. The tilt/telescoping steering wheel is always good to have.

The cabin seems roomier, especially in the backseat; though the specs say the legroom dimensions have increased only slightly. Even with the driver’s seat all the way back, my legs were clear of its backrest. The seats don’t seem to recline, which is a bit of an oversight; however, the 60/40-split folding backrest is at a comfortable angle, and the center armrest is the perfect height. The cabin volume is about the same as in the 2009. The cargo space behind the backseat is up 3 cubic feet, but the maximum cargo space is actually down 10 cubic feet, making it considerably smaller than the CR-V and Chevy Equinox.

The 2010 Tucson offers a six-speed manual — a rarity in this vehicle class — along with an automatic. Its 23/31 mpg with the automatic bests most of the class. As a package, the Tucson looks better than ever. It will hit some dealerships by the end of the year.

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