Full 2006 Hyundai Tucson Review
What's New for 2006
The LX trim level has been replaced by a Limited model that offers much of the same equipment.
Hyundai has spent the last five years remolding its image, improving the quality of its products, and providing contemporary technology at an affordable price, and the Hyundai Tucson is another example of what's going right with the Korean automaker. Introduced just last year, the compact Tucson has all the right tools to take on established sport utility competitors.
The Hyundai Tucson offers loads of standard features and a choice of a 140-hp, four-cylinder or 173-hp, V6 power. Exterior styling follows in the tire tracks of the Santa Fe with its sweptback headlights and curving front fenders. For the most part, it's more handsome, if not more conservative. Function also follows form resulting in a good-sized vehicle that drives more like a car than a truck. In fact, the Tucson rides on the sedan platform that underpins the Elantra. Parking lot negotiation is a breeze. For the sake of fuel-efficiency, the optional all-wheel-drive system routes up to 99 percent of the available power to the front wheels under ideal traction conditions. As road conditions change, the system automatically diverts up to 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels. A dash-mounted lock button allows the driver to lock the driveline into a set 50/50-split for extra traction when driving in snow.
The generous standard features list on this Hyundai SUV includes full-length side curtain airbags (in addition to seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants). Other notable standard items include four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, traction control, a stability control system, air conditioning and full power accessories. Also standard on all Tucson models is Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile warranty. The split-folding rear seat is able to fold flat to create a level cargo floor. It does this by lowering the bottom cushion into the footwell, and doesn't even require removal of the head restraints. Hyundai hopes the Tucson will win the hearts of potential compact SUV buyers with its roomy interior, fresh styling and generous helping of standard equipment, especially on the safety front. Although its engines aren't as strong or refined as those of some competitors, the 2006 Hyundai Tucson is competitive in all other respects.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The four-door Hyundai Tucson is a compact SUV available in three trim levels -- entry-level GL, midlevel GLS and top-of-the-line Limited. Standard features on the GL include four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, keyless entry, cruise control, heated outside mirrors, roof rack side rails, a rear intermittent wiper and a CD stereo system. The GLS adds body-side cladding, foglamps, wider tires, a CD/cassette/MP3 stereo, upgraded upholstery and a front wiper de-icer. The Limited adds leather seating, heated seats and an upgraded audio system with an in-dash six-disc CD changer and a subwoofer.
Powertrains and Performance
The base GL comes with a 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder engine that generates 140 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque. It's mated to a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic with automanual control. The GLS and Limited provide a larger, more powerful 2.7-liter V6 engine that produces 173 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. The automatic transmission is standard with the V6. Buyers can get front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive with either engine.
Passengers are well protected as the Hyundai Tucson comes standard with seat-mounted side-impact airbags for front occupants and side curtain airbags for both front- and rear-seat occupants. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes are also standard on all Tucsons, along with a traction and stability control system. This Hyundai SUV achieved a five-star sweep in all NHTSA crash tests, earning perfect marks for its front- and side-impact protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Hyundai Tucson features a clean, modern interior with simple controls and tight build quality. Materials quality is hit or miss with a few more hard plastics than we'd like and an odd pattern on the standard cloth upholstery. Legroom up front should be more than ample for most adults, though taller passengers may find it a tad tight in back. The Tucson offers 22.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the 60/40 second-row seat, though a non-retractable cargo cover tends to get in the way while loading up groceries. The rear seat is designed to fold completely flat in one step, opening up 65.5 cubic feet of total capacity.
Based on the same platform that underpins the Elantra, the 2006 Hyundai Tucson returns a smooth ride quality and generally handles more like a sedan than an SUV. The standard four-cylinder is quite weak, so the decent-performing V6 is a must. Shifts from the automatic transmission can be a bit lazy, but the Shiftronic manual mode allows drivers to work through the gears themselves when desired.