When the Hyundai Tucson debuted for the 2005 model year, it represented Hyundai's first entry in the long-established small crossover SUV segment. The first-generation Tucson became Hyundai's official "entry-level" SUV, and it offered a favorable combination of attributes, including an available V6 engine, a generous list of standard equipment and a lengthy warranty. However, this Tucson looked rather dowdy, had a decidedly low-budget feel to its cabin and never really registered on most consumers' radar as a mainstream option.
That all changed with the second-generation Tucson, which arrived for 2010 with sharp exterior styling and a slick interior to match. There's no V6 option, but the current four-cylinder is not only more powerful than the old V6 but also more fuel-efficient than the previous base four. Overall, the current Tucson is a considerably more capable and interesting vehicle than before. A used first-generation Tucson isn't a bad idea if you're looking for no-frills transportation, but the second-generation Tucson is certainly more appealing overall.
Current Hyundai Tucson
The five-passenger Hyundai Tucson is a compact crossover SUV. As with other vehicles in this class, the Tucson offers an elevated driving position, a flexible cargo area, predictable handling and respectable fuel economy.
The Tucson is available in GL, GLS and Limited trim levels. The base GL comes standard with a 2.0-liter engine that produces 165 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. It's paired to a five-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic. The GLS and Limited models get a 2.4-liter making 176 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque (slightly less for California-emissions states) with a six-speed automatic. GLS and Limited trims offer a choice of front- or all-wheel drive, while the GL is front-drive only.
The GL comes standard with 17-inch wheels, hill-hold and hill-descent control, air-conditioning, full power accessories and a six-speaker audio system with an iPod/USB interface. The GLS's added perks include alloy wheels, an upgraded suspension, roof rails, cruise control, heated front seats and Bluetooth. The top-dog Limited sports 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control and a power driver seat, among other features. A panoramic sunroof, a premium sound system and a navigation system are optional for the Limited.
In reviews, we've appreciated the Tucson's combination of style, sophistication and sharp road manners. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is peppy enough, and the Tucson's handling is European in character -- tight and composed, though a little harsh on rough pavement. Inside, there's plenty of room for four adults, and the contoured twin-cowl dash and available two-tone color schemes set the Tucson apart from competitors with plainer, trucklike interiors. Controls are simple and easy to reach, but maximum cargo capacity is down compared to competitors.
Overall, the Tucson is an appealing option that should be on any compact SUV shopper's short list, provided that V6 power and copious cargo space are not required.
Used Hyundai Tucson Models
The current, second-generation Hyundai Tucson debuted for the 2010 model year. In that first year, only the GLS and Limited trim levels were available. The entry-level GL trim was introduced (along with its smaller engine) for 2011. For the first two years of this Tucson, the ride quality was a bit firmer than the current model's. Fuel economy was also a bit lower.
The first-generation Tucson was produced from 2005-'09. In '05, Hyundai called the top-line model the LX rather than Limited, but from 2006 on there were three constant trim levels: GL, GLS and Limited. Other notable changes were limited to the 2008 addition of active head restraints, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. Every first-generation Hyundai Tucson had antilock brakes, stability control, front seat-mounted side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.
The base GL was powered by a 140-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to either a five-speed manual (mandatory on AWD models) or a four-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment included four-wheel disc brakes, alloy wheels and heated outside mirrors. The GLS had a 173-hp, 2.7-liter V6 and a four-speed automatic transmission as well as additional accoutrements. The top-shelf Limited model boasted items such as a sunroof, leather seats, automatic climate control and an upgraded audio system. As of 2009, a navigation system and a Kenwood audio system upgrade were optional.
In reviews, we praised the first-generation Tucson for its roomy interior and generous list of standard comfort and safety features. When the 60/40-split rear seat was folded flat, it opened up a respectable 65 cubic feet of cargo space -- more than the second-generation Tucson. On the downside, the four-cylinder simply didn't have enough power to move the Tucson with any authority, and the V6 was barely better than the four-cylinder engines found in some competing SUVs. Bland styling and inconsistent interior quality were also lowlights.
Read the most recent 2014 Hyundai Tucson review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Hyundai Tucson page.