I think I had a preconceived notion about what I would find when I drove the Hyundai Tucson. My thoughts were not very flattering; they mostly had to do with being cheap. I am pleased to say that I was totally off-base. The Hyundai Tucson I test drive is equipped with the Limited package. This top-of-the-line model rings up at just over $25,000 - not too shabby. The more I drive the Hyundai, the more little goodies I find, and the more I like it.

It starts with leather seats (only available in the Limited trim level), and continues with a long list of niceties: heated front seats; 6-CD, in-dash changer; and Shiftronic (automatic transmission that can shift like a manual if desired). Front, side, and curtain airbags are a major bonus in the safety department, as well as antilock brakes, tire-pressure monitoring system, electronic stability control and traction control, too. The list goes on to include a sunroof, fog lights and chrome accents. Lumbar support and adjustable headrests help me get very comfortable in what is quickly becoming a fun ride.

The V6 engine has power, but isn't exactly peppy. That's OK, most smaller SUVs seem to have traded some oomph for better fuel economy, and who doesn't want that these days. The Tucson comes in with a very respectable 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway and that is with 4WD. The 2WD model does even better with 22 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway.

The space in this car is comfortable, great for grocery runs, but maybe not the family camping trip. For a trip to the mall, yes; a trip to the national park, not so much. I could make it work if I were judicious with my luggage, but throw in a double-stroller and a Pack & Play and it would be uncomfortable. I'll reiterate this though; for everyday use, point-A-to-point-B type stuff, the Tucson is really nice.

Moreover, it's cute too, not at all victim to the boxy and plastic-feeling exteriors of its competitors. The Tucson is comfortable and ergonomically sound on the interior, it feels cozy inside. Small enough to reach the back seat for any of the million reasons I need to, but large enough that no one is kicking my seat.

Now a little bad news, The Latch connecters are difficult to use. They are recessed really far into the seat; I have trouble finding them at first. I finally realize that there is upholstery wrapped around the connector, leaving me with a pinky-width space to attach that buckle. I get one side hooked but I give up on the second until I can find someone who has tough hands and some patience to help me. Mother Proof noted this same problem on last year's Tucson as well. Please Hyundai, help a mother out and fix this glitch!

On the plus side, the huge amount of legroom will fit a rear-facing infant seat or gangly teenagers, no problem. The rear seat also reclines, making it easy to get a snug fit and proper angle for just about any child car seat.

The entry-level Tucson goes for $17,495. It is not 4WD, nor does it have the V6 or leather seats, but it does include all of the same side-impact protection features of the more expensive Limited model - good job, Hyundai. I have to say I think I would be happy in this little gem. While getting me from A to B, it's just as cute and functional as the Limited and well, if that isn't what we think of when we hear the name 'Hyundai,' it should be!

Note: Special Thanks to McDonald Automotive Group in Littleton, Colorado for letting me test drive a Tucson from their stock on very short notice. We really appreciate your help here at Mother Proof.

*For more information on the Hyundai Tucson and its safety features visit Cars.com.


LATCH Connectors: 2

Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5


Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair - Ample

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair - Ample


Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair - Great

Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times