2012 Hyundai Tucson

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2012 Hyundai Tucson. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Good gas mileage
  • Stylish looks
  • Refined interior

The Bad

  • Small cargo area
  • Small rear seat
  • Firm ride

Notable Features of the 2012 Hyundai Tucson

  • Choice of four-cylinder engines
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Manual or automatic

2012 Hyundai Tucson Road Test

Bill Jackson

Editor's note: Estimated mileage ratings have been lowered to reflect a November 2012 EPA audit of this car's stated mileage.

With its good looks and plenty of features, the 2012 Hyundai Tucson keeps pace in the compact SUV field, but its tight interior and stiff ride may deter some buyers.

The Tucson was last redesigned in 2010. (You can compare the 2011 with the 2012 model here.) The most obvious change for 2012 is the addition of an Active Eco button that changes engine and transmission response to get better mileage, but there's also an improved air-conditioning system, among other updates.

Hyundai offers three versions of the Tucson — GL, GLS and the Limited trim level — and three different engines: a 176-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder; a 170-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder; and a 165-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It's offered with either FWD or AWD and with a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Our test model was a Limited trim with the larger, 2.4-liter engine and a six-speed automatic mated to front-wheel drive.

The Ride
There's no getting around it: The 
Hyundai Tucson rides firmly. You'll feel every ripple in the road, and every pothole will register through the chassis. Our test model came with the largest alloy wheels and tires — 18 inches — and while that can affect ride, the overall sensation is that of a car that doesn't absorb bumps as much as it bounces over them.

You don&...

Editor's note: Estimated mileage ratings have been lowered to reflect a November 2012 EPA audit of this car's stated mileage.

With its good looks and plenty of features, the 2012 Hyundai Tucson keeps pace in the compact SUV field, but its tight interior and stiff ride may deter some buyers.

The Tucson was last redesigned in 2010. (You can compare the 2011 with the 2012 model here.) The most obvious change for 2012 is the addition of an Active Eco button that changes engine and transmission response to get better mileage, but there's also an improved air-conditioning system, among other updates.

Hyundai offers three versions of the Tucson — GL, GLS and the Limited trim level — and three different engines: a 176-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder; a 170-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder; and a 165-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It's offered with either FWD or AWD and with a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Our test model was a Limited trim with the larger, 2.4-liter engine and a six-speed automatic mated to front-wheel drive.

The Ride
There's no getting around it: The 
Hyundai Tucson rides firmly. You'll feel every ripple in the road, and every pothole will register through the chassis. Our test model came with the largest alloy wheels and tires — 18 inches — and while that can affect ride, the overall sensation is that of a car that doesn't absorb bumps as much as it bounces over them.

You don't get a crashing or banging sensation that makes you think you've broken something, so it's not the worst car out there in this respect, but this is the area where Hyundai needs to do the most work. It's the Tucson attribute that stands out the most, and the fact that it's not a positive one is not good.

The biggest problem Hyundai has is that many competitors — most notably the 2013 Mazda CX-5 and the 2013 Ford Escape — achieve better ride quality. (See them compared.)

Driving
Despite (or perhaps because of) its stiff ride, the Hyundai Tucson still manages to be decent to drive.

On very smooth roads, the Hyundai handles pretty well for a small SUV. It doesn't wallow around like other cars can, and it's able to take tight turns fairly quickly. There's some hopping when you hit a bump at a higher speed, though, so it does demand an attentive driver.

While it didn't blow me away, the drivetrain provided good power off the line, and I was able to pass easily on the highway. Take note, though: Hyundai says the Active Eco mode "modifies engine and transmission controls to improve gas mileage." I'd say it this way: "Pressing the Active Eco button takes whatever fun there is in driving the Tucson right out of the equation." But, of course, one doesn't have to press that button. Hyundai says its EPA mileage estimates are calculated with Active Eco turned off; the feature is intended to improve that mileage. Mileage is as follows.

EPA-Estimated Gas Mileages*
Engine Transmission City/Highway MPG Drive
2.0-liter 5-speed manual 20/26 2WD
2.0-liter 6-speed auto 22/29 2WD
2.4-liter 6-speed auto 21/30 2WD
2.4-liter 6-speed auto 20/27 AWD
*Mileage ratings have been lowered to reflect a Nov. 2012 EPA audit of this car's stated mileage

The steering provides good feedback for a small SUV, but it's not so heavy that it's a chore to steer around a parking lot. Other editors described the Hyundai Tucson's steering as being a bit numb, but I thought it was fine for this vehicle class.

Finally, rear visibility is not the greatest. The rear window is small and it sits very high in the rear hatch, leaving a large blind spot directly behind the Hyundai Tucson. A backup camera is optional, but it's part of a package that runs more than $2,500 and includes a panoramic moonroof.

Still, given how bad visibility is, it's an option package I would seriously consider. I mean, visibility is livable on the highway, but as soon as I got in parking lots or around smaller people and children, I wanted the camera more. Here, again, other small SUVs do it better. Two Subarus — the Outback and Forester — stand out as leaders in this pack.

Interior
The Tucson looks good on the inside. Not only do the surfaces and materials look good, they feel good as well. The rotary climate control dials felt a little light and a little cheap, as did the controls on the turn-signal stalk, but overall there were more hits than misses.

As you'd expect in a top-of-the-line model, the Hyundai Tucson Limited comes well-equipped, with leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever, heated front seats, keyless entry, steering-wheel audio controls, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and USB/MP3 jacks.

If you opt for the lowest, GL, trim, you get cloth upholstery, USB/MP3 jacks and a 60/40-split folding backseat, but you lose the heated seats, dual-zone climate control and steering-wheel audio controls. The midlevel trim, the GLS, makes some of those features either standard or optional. Compare the trims and their differences here.

There are drawbacks to the interior. For one, the backseat area is fairly tight. Taller folks will find themselves wanting legroom unless the front passenger is willing to cede some space. Headroom in the backseat is OK, but the roofline is very low, making it possible for taller folks to bang their heads when exiting.

Also, the cargo area isn't exceptionally large. It trails other small SUVs — notably the Chevrolet Equinox and Honda CR-V — in cargo volume. I'd expect a tight fit for families and their luggage if they're planning a long road trip. Also, shorter folks could find the cargo area's load height to be just a bit too high.

Safety & Reliability
The 2012 Hyundai Tucson is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick, meaning it scored IIHS' highest rating, Good, in front and side crash tests, a roof-strength test, and evaluations of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.

All Hyundai Tucsons come with side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags, as well as two frontal airbags and active front head restraints. As is required of all new vehicles beginning with the 2012 model year, it also has a standard electronic stability system, traction control and antilock brakes. See the full list of standard safety features here.

To see how various child-safety seats fit in the Tucson, view the Car Seat Check.

The 2012 Hyundai Tucson is predicted to have average reliability.

Tucson in the Market
The Tucson competes in a crowded field. Nearly every automaker, from the most high-end luxury makes to the bargain-budgeted companies, makes a small SUV. (Compare the Hyundai with competitors here.)

Overall, the high points for the Tucson are its looks, the number of features for the price and drivetrain performance, in roughly that order. Where it stumbles is with its ride and interior size.

The issue Hyundai faces is that, in such a tough market, if everything is not exactly perfect for a buyer, there are plenty of other choices. I question if there's enough in the Hyundai Tucson to make buyers choose it over the others. It's a case of something that's "not bad" quite possibly being not "good enough." Because its competition has left "good enough" behind.

Send Bill an email  

 


2012 Tucson Video

The Hyundai Tucson has been on sale for nearly three years, and in that time, a slew of new competitors have entered the compact crossover segment.

Latest 2012 Tucson Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.0)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.4)
Reliability
(4.4)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

I love this vehicle i have no problems with it so

by Christine Goodman from Cleveland on August 25, 2018

This car is great for me it is very spacious it has legroom for my kids they're very tall 6 feet and above so that's very helpful and the fact that it's roomy on the inside is very helpful also and I ... Read full review

(3.0)

Deceptive experience

by nomadmzl on July 11, 2018

I was affected for a recurrent issue with the gear box of many of this model, I was unaware of the poor structural resistance for some gearbox components, so it broke in 3 rare spots. They are ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Hyundai Tucson currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 Hyundai Tucson GL

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranties

Backed by Hyundai
New Car Program Benefits
  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    120 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / unlimited distance

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits
  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    Newer than 5 model years/less than 60,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    5 years/60,000 miles (from remainder of original)

  • Powertrain warranty

    10 years/100,000 miles and 10 years/100,000 miles for hybrid/electric vechicle batteries.

  • Dealer Certification Required

    150-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All Program Details

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Tucson received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker