2013 Hyundai Tucson

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$19,595

starting MSRP

2013 Hyundai Tucson
2013 Hyundai Tucson

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

The good:

  • Good gas mileage
  • Stylish looks
  • Refined interior

The bad:

  • Small cargo area

3 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2013 Hyundai Tucson trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

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

2013 Hyundai Tucson review: Our expert's take

By

Editor’s note: This review was written in August 2012 about the 2012 Hyundai Tucson. Little of substance has changed with this year’s model. To see what’s new for 2013, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

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 front- or all-wheel drive 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 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 wheels — 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 20/287 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 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 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 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 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  

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.4
  • Interior design 4.5
  • Performance 4.4
  • Value for the money 4.4
  • Exterior styling 4.5
  • Reliability 4.5

Most recent consumer reviews

2.3

Don’t do it

Motor blew up 20 miles out of the ten year 100,000 mile warranty went out. Car was serviced as required. Never again will I purchase a Hyundai.

1.0

Unhappy disgusted customer

I definitely would not recommend this car or ideal Hyundai and Frederick Maryland they lie I took my car in for an oil check up for a recall when I come out they told me they hadn't fixed it because they have to order the parts they were supposed to have ordered parts before I took it in there no when I came out they said they had to order the parts so they would let me know when the parts came in well the parts still haven't come in and they ordered them on the 21st of February So I had picked the car up that day and drove it a couple miles down the road and it started spitting and sputtering and then I was at 30 miles an hour it dropped to 20 all by itself and it took some time for it to go backup to 30 so I pulled over called my husband told him to come to me that I couldn't pick him up I was afraid to drive the car any further already so I got out check the oil and it had just a little bit on the end of the stick but that was it and we had put 2 qts in that morning Now I would have thought that that dealership would have told me there was no oil in it or would have put oil in it So now they're telling me that my car needs a new engine and it took them 3 weeks to to get the answer to tell me that So I wanted the number to whoever makes that decision and they said no I'm sorry we can't give that number out well that's xxxxxxxx that's a sorry xxx dealership ,sorry xxx company. Because I want to tell my side of the story as to what happened to this car it was running fine when I took it in there And when I picked up a couple miles down the road when all the stuff started happening So now it's $8500 for a new engine The director of the service department says I'll work you up a Bid on getting a new engine Installed a few seconds later he said it'll be $8500 I said you just told me you had to work up a Bid so there you told Me a lie Because you already had the bid writtenI'm so mad at this dealership I had to call Hyundai headquarters because nobody at the dealership would tell me what was wrong with my car they said they had to wait to hear from who ever makes the decisions on warranty or who is going to pay for new engine so I called Hyundai and couldn't get through to anybody that could help just ridiculous when you keep getting sent around all these people and end up back where you started with no answers so when I called that hyundai corporation the very next day I get a call from the service director at my car dealership where I have my carin frederick md funny thing right nobody could call me before then so they left my car sit there for 3 xxxx weeks and they'd better not charge me for storage As all this is their faultI will not ever buy another Hyundai and I will let my friends and family know about this dealership in FrederickVery unhappy customer disgusted and I only had a couple payments till paid off. I'm sorry if some things don't make sense but I'm so upset I can't hardly think.

1.0

Engine Froze Up Driving down the highway

Engine FROZE UP going 75 , 100583 miles, have done all maintenance, no prior warning until I lost power. Could have Killed me or someone else, have all maintenance records no problem noted. Would not recommend

See all 73 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
60 months/60,000 miles
Corrosion
84 months/unlimited distance
Powertrain
120 months/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance
60 months/unlimited distance

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