Home > Reviews > 2010 Hyundai Tucson

2010 Hyundai Tucson

A Stylish Redesign Still Leaves The Tucson A Bit Short

     Hyundai’s aggressive product investment has rewarded the stalwart automaker with one of the freshest lineups in the business. We’ve already put our stamp of approval on the company’s killer new Sonata sedan, but there is tempting new product on the crossover front too. Last year the vanilla Tucson was the extra-strength sleep aid of the Hyundai lineup thanks to generic headlights, a homely grille and chunky plastic cladding that tried in vain to liven up the derivative profile. But the Tucson enters 2010 with swoopy new bodywork and a stylish interior ready to engage the hotly contested small crossover segment and attract new consumers that simply didn’t consider Hyundai just a few years ago.
     We’re fans of the Tucson’s new duds. Our Kiwi Green GLS model even looked borderline upscale and drew many compliments about the unusual but appealing color. Sharp 17” alloy wheels move the new Tucson closer to the sport end of the crossover equation and, thankfully, further from the utilitarian end occupied by last year’s model. Our only complaint about the little Hyundai’s new European design is the lower black plastic accents that we could live without. Even so, the Tucson continues Hyundai’s recent string of striking model makeovers.
     Interior design takes a similar step forward thanks to a two-tone color scheme, silver accents and straightforward audio and HVAC controls. The two large gauges are easy to read, but the simplistic readout between them displaying fuel, temp and trip computer info looks a bit dated. The materials quality and switchgear were only average for the class, but we found no fit and finish issues to report on our pre-production press car. Considering how hard Hyundai is striving to achieve industry-leading status in this area, that’s a good thing.
     We did notice more noise (from both the road and the overly buzzy engine) permeating the interior than we’d like, certainly more than in a comparably priced Chevrolet Equinox. And it’s impossible not to notice the giant blind spot created by the D-pillar, but the designers were at least charitable enough to include large side mirrors. Engineers were able to bless the Tucson with a good size cargo bay (25.7 cubic feet with the 2nd row up, 55.8 with them folded) and include bonus storage under the rear floor. Now they need to turn their attention to the seats since the headrests on the front chairs jut too far forward and annoyed us from the get-go. Unlucky passengers relegated to the 2nd row will have to endure a hard and completely flat bottom cushion. Hyundai might want to study an Equinox and then make some revisions pronto.
     While they’re at it we’d recommend some tweaking to the Tucson’s dynamics. Hyundai engineers evidently moved directly to the Tucson program after finishing the Genesis Coupe Track model because this crossover is setup tight–too tight, in fact. The handling is buttoned down to the point that the ride is overly stiff and borderline uncomfortable on most Michigan roads. But the element that surprised us most was the unbelievably direct steering. Any hint of on-center slop has been eradicated resulting in a helm that is twitchy at best and annoyingly oversensitive to the average driver. One degree to the right or left and you’re weaving in your lane like Lindsay Lohan after a night on the town. Crosswinds will test your skills and try your patience like never before. The truth is anything this side of a Porsche GT3 needs at least a small soft spot on center to sort out the relentless corrections and provide for that well-planted stable feel all modern cars offer. Nervous is how we’d describe the Tucson’s dynamic reflexes.
     We’re glad to report the standard disc brakes were fine and the 2.4-liter engine, although less refined than recent direct injection four-cylinders from the competition, pairs nicely with the standard 6-speed automatic and shuttles the 3,203-pound Tucson around easily. Factoring in the relatively light curb weight and the respectable 176 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque, the little Hyundai rewards with the segment’s best power-to-weight ratio and great fuel economy numbers for an AWD vehicle of 21 mpg city and 28 mpg on the highway. We give credit to Hyundai for reversing the recent industry trend of making every new vehicle heavier than the model it’s replacing. Engineers managed to shed 61 pounds compared to the 2009 Tucson, and the feat is even more impressive when you learn the new model is an inch wider and 3.3 inches longer.
     Hyundai continues to earn their industry leading value position by including their famous 10 year warranty and including a lot of equipment for less than you’d pay for something from the competition. Our well-equipped all-wheel drive GLS model stickered for just $24,090. For that price you end up with a very competent small crossover that could be a leader among its segment with some revised dynamic settings and a few more bucks spent on important things like seat comfort and noise insulation. As it is you’ll have to carefully consider the competition before making you decision because the stylish Tucson comes up a bit short of earning an unconditional recommendation.

The Good:
Makes the competition look boring by comparison, good EPA results for an all-wheel drive crossover, priced right, unbeatable warranty coverage.
The Bad:
Hard seats, steering and handling setup like a supercar, sizeable blind spot.
The Verdict:
If all-wheel drive is a must and $24k is your budget the Tucson deserves strong consideration. Just make sure you consider the competition too.

Photos courtesy of Hyundai

  1. November 16th, 2010 at 06:05 | #1

    This looks like a sleek, cool design for the new 2010 Hyundai Tucson!
    Looking forward to the 2011 model!

  2. November 17th, 2010 at 14:22 | #2

    This is a sweet looking car from Hyundai. Has anyone seen the Hyundai Equus?

  3. April 18th, 2011 at 15:25 | #3

    Hyundai really packs a lot of features for the price; unfortunately they are not very well packaged. I get a new rattle every day I drive this car. The instrument panel, door panels, among other hatchback I have yet to find.

  1. December 15th, 2010 at 18:14 | #1
You must be logged in to post a comment.