Full 2014 Hyundai Tucson Review
What's New for 2014
The base GL trim level and its manual transmission have been discontinued, leaving the GLS as the entry-level Hyundai Tucson. A new SE trim slots above the GLS, while the two available engines have been overhauled and now feature direct fuel injection. Also, the base 2.0-liter Tucson is newly offered with all-wheel drive. Other highlights for 2014 include streamlined exterior styling, standard LED running lights, a 4.3-inch touchscreen (SE and Limited) and a larger 7-inch touchscreen for the Limited's optional navigation system.
The term "compact crossover" often seems like a misnomer these days, but the 2014 Hyundai Tucson is bringing compact back. Measuring just 173.2 inches from nose to tail, the Tucson is about 7 inches shorter than Toyota's RAV4 and a whopping 14 inches shorter than Chevy's Equinox. Not surprisingly, the Tucson trails most rivals in passenger and cargo space, but it compensates with great maneuverability and a surprisingly high fun-to-drive factor. If you're looking for more of a hatchback-on-tiptoes than a true SUV, the Tucson could be a nice fit.
Notably, Hyundai has burnished the 2014 Tucson's credentials with some key enhancements, including tweaked styling and a revamped model lineup that bids adieu to last year's sparsely equipped GL trim level. The formerly midgrade GLS is now the base trim, which means that even the cheapest 2014 Tucson comes with a respectable roster of standard features. There's also a well-stocked SE trim level that bridges the gap between GLS and Limited, and the infotainment scene gets an update with a pair of new touchscreens: a humble 4.3-inch unit that's standard on SE and Limited and a 7-inch setup with updated software on the Limited's optional navigation system. Furthermore, both engines have been redone and now boast direct fuel injection technology, though oddly, their fuel economy and output numbers remain about the same.
The 2014 Hyundai Tucson does have its flaws, even putting aside concerns about its size. The rear seat, for example, doesn't slide fore or aft, although it does gain a reclining function this year. Also, the base 2.0-liter engine lacks punch, and the Tucson's sporty handling comes at a price, as ride quality is decidedly on the firm side. The versatile 2014 Mazda CX-5 is a dynamic alternative, especially with its 2.5-liter engine, while the 2014 Ford Escape is similarly entertaining and offers more high-tech features.
If you're open to going even smaller, consider the chic 2014 Mini Countryman or the less chic but more affordable Nissan Juke. Finally, the Kia Sportage is mechanically related to the Tucson, and offers available turbocharged power for those interested in even sportier performance. Overall, the Tucson remains a solid option, particularly with all those improvements for 2014. If you're looking for a value-packed crossover SUV that's light on its feet and cake to park, Hyundai's still got one of the better solutions on the market.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Hyundai Tucson is a five-passenger compact crossover SUV that's offered in three trim levels: GLS, SE and Limited.
The GLS starts with the 2.0-liter engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, LED running lights, a rear spoiler, cloth upholstery, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a trip computer, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks with recline, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with auxiliary controls and a six-speaker CD sound system with iPod/USB connectivity and satellite radio.
The SE gets the bigger engine, automatic headlights, foglights, heated side mirrors, sport body cladding, roof rails, a 4.3-inch central touchscreen display, a six-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar), heated front seats, cloth/premium vinyl (leatherette) upholstery and rear climate vents.
The Limited turns on the charm with 18-inch wheels, chrome exterior trim, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, Hyundai's Blue Link telematics, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a retractable rear cargo cover.
The Limited is eligible for the Technology package that adds LED taillights, a panoramic sunroof, an upgraded seven-speaker sound system, a 7-inch touchscreen, HD radio and a navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Hyundai Tucson offers two different engines, each paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The GLS comes with a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder that produces 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 25 mpg combined (23 mpg city/29 mpg highway) with front-wheel drive and 23 combined (21 city/25 highway) with all-wheel drive.
The SE and Limited step up to a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 182 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy stands at 23 mpg combined (21 mpg city/28 mpg highway) with front-wheel drive and 22 combined (20 city/25 highway) with all-wheel drive.
Standard safety features on the 2014 Hyundai Tucson include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, a hill-holder feature and hill descent control. The Blue Link telematics suite, standard on Limited, includes emergency safety assistance, stolen vehicle tracking, geo-fencing (allowing parents to set limits for teen drivers) and other smartphone-based features via the Blue Link mobile app.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Tucson came to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet, an average distance for this segment.
In government crash testing, the Tucson received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for overall frontal impact protection and five stars for overall side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tucson its top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. Its seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts. In the IIHS's small-overlap frontal-offset test, however, the Tucson earned the lowest "Poor" rating.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2014 Hyundai Tucson has an unusually stylish cabin, highlighted by a sleek dashboard that complements the exterior's striking lines. In spite of the emphasis on style, the controls are generally clearly labeled and simple to use, with extra credit due this year for the Limited's much-improved optional touchscreen interface. The default 4.3-inch touchscreen on the SE and Limited is less impressive, but still a nice bit of standard technology at this modest price point.
Up front, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is finally standard, so tall drivers should be able to get a comfortable grip in every Tucson. The rear seat, however, is a bit smaller than the norm, and although it now features reclining 60/40-split seatbacks, the bench still doesn't slide fore and aft, which would be handy in the compact Tucson for freeing up extra passenger or cargo space.
To be fair, the 25.7 cubic feet of cargo room behind the Tucson's rear seatbacks is a useful amount; ditto the 55.8 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded down. But compared to segment rivals like the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester (or even its Hyundai sibling, the Santa Fe Sport), the Tucson's hauling abilities fall short. The Countryman, though, maxes out at just over 40 cubic feet, so it could be worse.
Many shoppers will find that the 2014 Hyundai Tucson GLS's 2.0-liter engine fails to inspire when they give it the spurs, and its fuel economy isn't that great, either. Price range permitting, we recommend stepping up to the SE or Limited, as those trims get the stronger 2.4-liter engine and return nearly the same fuel economy. Both engines sound a bit coarse at high rpm, unfortunately, and they need to rev high when you're driving in the mountains or in any other situation that requires maximum acceleration. Power-hungry types should consider the Tucson's turbocharged cousin, the Kia Sportage SX.
The Tucson's diminutive dimensions pay dynamic dividends on the road. Whereas some larger rivals feel unwieldy in tight urban spaces, the Tucson navigates the concrete jungle as nimbly as a compact hatchback, and it keeps its cool around sharp turns, too. In general, the Tucson drives more like a European crossover than one designed for the United States. One downside, though, is the Tucson's firm ride, which adds to the sporty feel but may be too stiff-legged for some.