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 choices provide respectable performance along with greater fuel efficiency than the previous, considerably less powerful base four. Overall, the current Hyundai 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 available in GLS, SE and Limited trim levels. The base GLS comes standard with a 2.0-liter engine that produces 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The SE and Limited models get a 2.4-liter making 182 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Both are matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. All trim levels offer a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
The GLS comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker audio system with an iPod/USB interface. The SE's added perks include automatic headlights, a rearview camera, a power driver seat, heated front seats and upgraded upholstery. The Limited sports 18-inch wheels, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control and Hyundai's Blue Link telematics. Optional on the Limited are a panoramic sunroof, an upgraded sound system and a navigation system.
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, controls are simple and easy to reach, and the contoured twin-cowl dash and available two-tone color schemes set the Tucson apart from competitors with plainer, less imaginative interiors. There's plenty of room for four adults and the backseat reclines, 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 ample power and cargo space are not required.
Used Hyundai Tucson Models
The current, second-generation Hyundai Tucson debuted for the 2010 model year. Initially, only the GLS and Limited trim levels were available along with an entry-level GL trim introduced (along with its smaller engine) for 2011. For 2013, both the Tucson's ride quality and its fuel economy were slightly improved. The engines prior to 2014 lacked direct injection and other improvements, resulting in different power outputs. The 2.0-liter produced 165 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque (and could be had with a manual transmission), while the 2.4-liter produced 176 hp and 168 lb-ft (note that these figures were slightly lower in California emissions states). Fuel economy was pretty much the same, however. Other changes that year included revised touchscreen interfaces and the elimination of the base GL trim.
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 2015 Hyundai Tucson review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Hyundai Tucson page.