Full 2010 Hyundai Tucson Review
What's New for 2010
The 2010 Hyundai Tucson compact crossover SUV has been completely redesigned.
The Hyundai Tucson was always just a budget buy. Driving one was like eating at Applebee's -- you enjoyed it, but in all likelihood you'd readily step up to a higher-quality vehicle if you had a fuller wallet. However, Hyundai is no longer content with simply selling less-expensive, low-cost alternatives. The completely redesigned 2010 Hyundai Tucson is consequently a giant leap forward, boasting an efficient new engine, a high quality and handsome cabin, sleek styling and surprisingly good handling. Even more impressive, though, it maintains its budget price.
One look at the new Tucson reveals that this is a completely different direction for the model. It's roughly the same size as the previous generation, but the old car's utterly forgettable and plasticky styling, which had all the design flair of a Coleman cooler, has disappeared into a cocoon and emerged a butterfly. The new exterior has a far more refined and high-class appearance, and the same could be said for the interior, which has gone from a nondescript and dated shell of hard plastic to a stylish environment of warm colors and organic shapes. Best of all, the simple controls that Hyundai is renowned for have been maintained.
Under the hood, there's a new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that actually produces more horsepower than the old V6 upgrade while getting significantly better fuel economy than the old four-cylinder. But it is the new Tucson's driving demeanor that is most surprising. Past Hyundais have typically been tuned for ride comfort over sharp handling, but this Tucson is actually quite fun to drive. All of a sudden, the Tucson is one of the sportiest models in the segment, though some drivers may find that the ride quality is actually a bit too firm.
Overall, though, the 2010 Hyundai Tucson is a very impressive entry in the compact crossover segment, and it's certainly a top pick among similarly sized models like the Ford Escape, Mazda CX-7 and Nissan Rogue. Note that the Chevy Equinox, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 offer a bit more space for those who need the most utility for the buck. If you're just looking for a small, fuel-efficient SUV, though, the Tucson is an excellent choice -- even if you can only afford a budget buy.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Hyundai Tucson is a five-passenger compact crossover SUV available in GLS and Limited trim levels. The GLS comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels, a hill-holder feature, hill descent control, keyless entry, a trip computer, air-conditioning, full power accessories, keyless entry, a tilt steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat and a six-speaker stereo with CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack and a USB port with an iPod interface. The Popular Equipment package adds 17-inch alloy wheels, an auto-up/down driver window, cruise control, body-color heated mirrors and door handles, roof rails, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, leatherette/cloth upholstery and Bluetooth. The Navigation package adds all Popular Equipment package items plus a touchscreen navigation system, a rearview camera, automatic headlights and a seven-speaker stereo including a subwoofer.
The Tucson Limited adds all Popular Equipment items plus 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome grille and door handles, automatic headlights, foglights, a front wiper de-icer, a cargo cover, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat (includes lumbar adjustment) and dual-zone automatic climate control. The Premium package deletes the roof rails but adds a panoramic sunroof and the touchscreen navigation system, rearview camera and seven-speaker stereo upgrade.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Hyundai Tucson comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. In most of the country, it produces 176 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque. In California-emissions states, this engine receives partial zero-emissions vehicle (PZEV) status and produces 170 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the front-wheel-drive GLS, and a six-speed automatic is optional on the FWD GLS and standard on the all-wheel-drive GLS and all Limited models.
EPA-estimated fuel economy with front-wheel drive and the automatic is 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. The manual lowers those estimates by 1 mpg. All-wheel-drive models return 21/28/24.
Standard safety equipment includes four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, hill holder (prevents rolling back on inclined stops) and hill descent control (automatically brakes down steep off-road hills when activated).
Interior Design and Special Features
Most models in the compact crossover SUV class feature cabins that can best be described as utilitarian in design. Not so the Tucson, which features a contoured twin-cowl dash and available two-tone color schemes. It looks quite nice, and fortunately this sense of style doesn't come at the expense of usability. Controls are simple and easy to reach, including those for the optional touchscreen navigation system.
Even with the manually adjustable driver seat found in the GLS trim, the Tucson provides a comfortable driving position for drivers of almost any size. We suggest opting for the Popular Equipment package, though, as it includes a telescoping steering wheel along with other welcome items like Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio controls and high-quality leatherette/cloth upholstery.
The Tucson's backseat is quite spacious, providing plenty of leg- and headroom. Sadly, the seat doesn't recline or slide like in competing models. The compact Tucson also offers less maximum cargo capacity (55.8 cubic feet) than the CR-V, Forester and RAV4 (roughly 70 cubic feet).
Hyundais have never been renowned for their spirited driving demeanor, but the new 2010 Hyundai Tucson is an indicator that things are changing. With European-inspired suspension tuning and a well-weighted electric power steering system, the Tucson indeed feels sportier than models like the CR-V, RAV4 and Rogue. Unfortunately, that comes at the expense of ride quality, which may be too firm for some buyers. The 18-inch wheels available on the Limited trim may exacerbate this. The four-cylinder engine is powerful enough for most uses and certainly fuel efficient, though it can sound a bit unrefined at times.