Quick Summary: Refreshed for 2014 with various safety, performance and interior enhancements, the 2014 Hyundai Tucson is the brand's smallest SUV. As a true "compact" crossover, the five-passenger Tucson is also among the smallest vehicles in its class, but it still offers ample passenger space.
What Is It?
The Hyundai Tucson is a compact SUV that's available with either front- or optional all-wheel drive. A six-speed automatic transmission is the only available gearbox. Our Limited trim tester is the top of three trim levels: GLS, SE and Limited. The GLS models come standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 164 horsepower and 161 pound-feet of torque. SE and Limited trims are fitted with Hyundai's 182-hp/177 lb-ft 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Both engines feature direct fuel injection, which adds power and efficiency.
The base Tucson starts at $22,325. Our front-wheel-drive Limited model cost $29,835.
How Does It Drive?
Characterized by light steering effort and good maneuverability, the Tucson is both predictable and easy to drive. Acceleration is good for the class. Our tester hit 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, which is quicker than both Toyota's RAV4 and Honda's CR-V.
Though its brake pedal is soft, it produced a 124-foot stopping distance from 60 mph, which is average for the class. The Tucson's six-speed automatic features full manual shift control, which allows the driver to hold gears or downshift to achieve engine braking.
Despite good overall manners, the Tucson isn't keen to being pushed hard. Like most vehicles in this class, it lacks the steering feel and chassis control necessary to flourish in spirited driving.
Front and rear-quarter visibility isn't as good as in many compact SUVs due to the Tucson's thick, sweeping pillars.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Does It Deliver?
Front-wheel-drive Tucsons equipped with the larger 2.4-liter engine are EPA rated at 24 mpg combined (21 city/28 highway). GLS models equipped with the 2.0-liter engine do slightly better at 25 mpg combined (23 city/29 highway).
Our tester with the larger 2.4-liter engine delivered 26.6 mpg on the 116-mile Edmunds test loop, which is primarily highway driving but includes both urban and mountain roads.
How Safe Is It?
The 2014 Hyundai Tucson is not significantly changed from last year. It carries over all previous crash test results. In federal government crash tests, NHTSA gave the Tucson an overall score of four out of five stars. In private testing the IIHS gave the Tucson a "Good" rating (the highest possible) in all tests except the small overlap front where it received a "Poor" rating.
Though it lacks more common active safety systems like lane departure warning, autonomous braking and cross traffic alert, the Tucson offers a variety of safety-related services through the company's Assurance Connected Care service. Automatic collision notification, enhanced roadside assistance and other maintenance-related services are included. A rearview camera is standard on SE and Limited trims.
Is Its Interior Comfortable?
Though it's dimensionally smaller than most of its competitors, the Tucson offers ample passenger space in both the front and rear seats. The front seats offer good support and medium-firm cushioning, which is amply comfortable on long trips. They are also heated, and the driver seat offers eight-way power adjustment and adjustable lumbar support on Limited trims. Six-footers fit comfortably in the rear seats, which include a two-stage recline feature.
SE and Limited trims are upgraded this year with rear vents mounted in the center console. Limited trims also get dual-zone climate control.
Large front door pockets provide one bottle holder each in addition to liberal small-item storage. Center console volume is adequate but not large and there's a useful small-item tray underneath the center stack. That tray houses an auxiliary jack, a USB plug and two 12-volt outlets.
Possibly the Tucson's biggest downside is its relatively small cargo area. At 25.7 cubic feet with the rear seat up, the Tucson's cargo area is 10 cubic feet smaller than most of its competition.
What Features Differentiate the Tucson?
All-wheel-drive Tucsons offer a locking center differential, which will improve performance in low-grip situations. Downhill brake control, which limits speed on steep descents, and hill start assist, which holds the vehicle in place on steep climbs, are standard on all trim levels.
What Are Its Closest Competitors? 2014 Honda CR-V: Strong on quality, efficiency and utility, the CR-V supplies a potent combination of virtues.
2014 Mazda CX-5: Striking styling, very good fuel economy and best-in-class driving dynamics make the CX-5 worth a look.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
If you like the elevated seating position offered by compact SUVs but don't need a large cargo area, the Tucson is a solid choice. It offers both good acceleration and strong fuel economy, which don't often come in the same package. Hyundai's standard 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty is as good as they get.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
The Tucson's relative lack of cargo space is a liability in a segment where storage volume is usually a priority. It's also nothing special inside. Many competitors now offer higher-quality interior materials and more features.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.