Full 2011 Hyundai Tucson Review
What's New for 2011
After a redesign last year, the 2011 Hyundai Tucson adds a new, more affordable GL trim level with a smaller 2.0-liter engine. Among the other trim levels, only a few changes in available features have been made.
Hyundai has been getting a lot of attention lately for its introduction of a new generation of more refined, sophisticated vehicles, of which the 2011 Hyundai Tucson is a good example. After its redesign last year, the Tucson compact crossover continues to impress us. Notably, this isn't simply because of traditional Hyundai strengths like value, affordability and overall quality. These qualities still define the Tucson, yet the crossover SUV's sleek styling, abundant features and fun-to-drive nature are what set it apart from its competition. All this makes the 2011 Hyundai Tucson one of Edmunds' top picks for a small crossover SUV.
For 2011, the Tucson sees the addition of a new GS trim level to the lineup. This new base model makes use of a 2.0-liter inline-4 engine instead of the previous 2.4-liter engine. The GS's four-cylinder offers less power, although its output is offset by a fuel economy improvement of 1 mpg EPA combined. The GS also costs considerably less than the GLS, but this is only because the GLS's price has risen to take into account the inclusion of the Popular Equipment package, which was optional last year.
As enticing as the bottom line of the GS model might be, we prefer the GLS for its added features and increased engine power, which make it a more satisfying value, especially when you compare it to the other compact crossovers on the market. Still, regardless of which trim you choose, you'll appreciate the 2011 Tucson's sculpted body and stylish interior, which set it apart from its bland-looking competition. In terms of the driving experience, the Tucson is also notable for its sharper handling and sporty character. But this athleticism comes at the expense of some ride comfort, as the suspension of the 2011 Tucson might be on the stiff side for some.
The 2011 Hyundai Tucson also makes some compromises in terms of utility, as the comparable 2011 Chevrolet Equinox, 2011 Honda CR-V, 2011 Subaru Forester and 2011 Toyota RAV4 all offer more cargo capacity. But unless this type of utility is of utmost importance, we rank the Hyundai Tucson and the Kia Sportage (alike under the skin) near the top of the list for compact crossover SUVs.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Hyundai Tucson is a five-passenger compact crossover SUV that is offered in three trim levels: GL, GLS and Limited.
The GL comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels, a hill-holder feature, hill-descent control, a trip computer, air-conditioning, full power accessories, keyless entry, a tilt steering wheel, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat and a six-speaker stereo with CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack and a USB port.
The GLS adds 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels, roof rails, heated side mirrors, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leatherette vinyl door trim and seat inserts, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and Bluetooth. All-wheel-drive GLS models also get heated front seats. An optional Navigation package adds a touchscreen navigation system, a rearview camera, an upgraded audio system with a subwoofer, and automatic headlights.
The Limited trim goes the extra mile by adding 18-inch cast-aluminum wheels, outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, automatic headlights, foglights, upgraded suspension, front wiper de-icer, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver seat with lumbar adjustments, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Hyundai Tucson GL comes standard with a 2.0-liter inline-4 engine that produces 165 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. The GL comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission and a six-speed automatic is available. Only front-wheel drive is available for the GL.
Stepping up to the GLS and Limited models will get you a 2.4-liter inline-4 that makes 176 hp and 168 lb-ft 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 automatic is the only transmission offered, but buyers can choose between front- and all-wheel drive.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the GL with a manual transmission is 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. The automatic improves these figures to 23/31/26 mpg. The front-wheel-drive GLS and Limited models are expected to get 22 city/31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined, while AWD models make slightly less at 21/28/23 mpg.
In a recent Edmunds test of an AWD 2011 Hyundai Tucson GLS, we found its acceleration to be just about average among other compact crossovers, with our test vehicle requiring 9.6 seconds to reach 60 mph.
Standard safety equipment for the 2011 Hyundai Tucson includes antilock disc brakes (with brake assist), stability and traction control, active front headrests, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, hill holder and hill descent control.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has named the Tucson one of its Top Safety Picks, awarding this Hyundai its top rating -- "Good" -- for frontal offset and side impact protection as well as roof strength tests. In Edmunds brake tests, the Tucson comes to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet, which is about average among crossover SUVs.
Interior Design and Special Features
Unlike many of the humdrum interiors found in other crossover SUVs, the 2011 Hyundai Tucson offers a contoured twin-cowl dash that's available in two-tone color schemes. It's quite a bit more appealing than the plain, truck-style treatments seen in the competition, and more functional to boot. The controls are simple and within easy reach, including those for the optional touchscreen navigation system.
The Tucson provides a comfortable driving position for drivers of almost any size. We suggest opting for the GLS trim, though, as it includes a telescoping steering wheel along with other welcome items like Bluetooth, audio controls mounted on the steering wheel and high-quality leatherette/cloth upholstery.
Backseat passengers aren't left out of the equation, either, as they'll enjoy respectable leg- and headroom. Sadly, the seat doesn't recline or slide fore and aft, as such seats frequently do in competing models. The compact Tucson also offers only 55.8 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity, while both the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 are rated at more than 70 cubic feet and even the Subaru Forester is rated at 63 cubic feet.
Many compact crossovers offer uninspired driving dynamics, but the 2011 Hyundai Tucson breaks from convention with a more lively spirit.
European-inspired suspension tuning and a well-weighted electric power steering system give the Tucson a sportier feel, but unfortunately, it comes at the expense of ride quality. The stiffer suspension transmits road imperfections with more frequency and intensity; those who choose Limited models will find that the trim's 18-inch wheels further degrade the vehicle's ride quality.
The 176-hp 2.4-liter engine is powerful enough for most uses and certainly fuel-efficient, but it can sound a bit unrefined at times.