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  • 2010 Hyundai Tucson GLS

    Posted on May 7th, 2010 ninarussin

    Five-passenger crossover combines value with substance

    By Nina Russin

    2010 Hyundai Tucson

    2010 Hyundai Tucson

    Two decades ago, nobody could have guessed that the Korean automakers would one day set the bar for quality and value in the US market. But that’s exactly what has happened. One need look no further than the 2010 Hyundai Tucson to discover why.

    A sub-$20,000 base sticker price for the GLS grade qualifies for our urban (formerly super-value) category. Yet the Tucson doesn’t look or perform like a cheap car. Hyundai’s five-passenger crossover vehicle is the first model designed at the automaker’s Frankfurt studio. Its long hood, aerodynamic roof and strong beltline give the Tucson visual affinity to a passenger car: ride and handling are similar as well.

    A standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission deliver ample power for urban commuters, with 31 mile-per-gallon highway fuel economy. Buyers in four-season climates can opt for available all-wheel drive over the standard front-wheel drive platform.

    Engineers used high-strength steel to enhance the car’s torsional rigidity while reducing overall weight. Despite being larger than the outgoing model, the new Tucson is 61 pounds lighter.

    In addition to weight savings throughout the body, engineers shaved weight under the hood by replacing the six-cylinder engine on the former model with a four-cylinder engine on the new car, using a lighter transmission, and replacing the former hydraulic steering system with a lighter, more compact electric one.

    The GLS model tested is one of two available grades. The upscale Limited grade adds additional comfort and convenience features. Base price for the GLS is $19,995, not including the $795 delivery charge.

    The test car comes with two options: carpeted floor mats ($100), and an equipment package that includes 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth interface, rear privacy glass, redundant steering wheel controls, and roof rails ($1700).

    Peppy four-cylinder engine

    2010 Hyundai Tucson

    2010 Hyundai Tucson

    Minimizing the Tucson’s curb weight allowed engineers to maintain a positive power-to-weight ratio from a small engine. Variable valve timing enhances low-end acceleration. Peak torque of 168 foot-pounds is available at 4000 rpm: the engine speed most drivers reach when accelerating onto the highway.

    Although the new Tucson is three inches longer than the outgoing model, the wheelbase is relatively short: 103.9 inches. A 34.7-foot turning radius is remarkably good for a five-passenger crossover. I was able to do a U-turn on a four-lane city street.

    A four-wheel independent suspension provides a compliant ride that should satisfy most drivers. Stabilizer bars keep the chassis flat in the corners, while 17-inch wheels provide an ample footprint for high-speed driving.

    Visibility around the car is good, despite its rather thick D pillars. The test car does not have the optional navigation system and rearview camera. I would recommend adding that for buyers who can afford it: it makes it easier to back out of a parking spot, and has safety benefits for parents whose small children may wander behind the car.

    The side mirrors do a good job of compensating for blind spots in the rear corners. I had no problems seeing around the side mirrors when cornering. Over-the-shoulder visibility is quite good to both sides.

    Engineers did a good job tuning the electric power steering for feedback. It feels the same as a hydraulic system, providing plenty of assist at low speeds while maintaining good on-center response on the highway. Four-wheel discs with four channel antilock braking stop the give the Tucson linear stopping power on wet and dry roads.

    Because of its long overhangs, the driver tends to feel weight transfer more than on vehicles with the wheels pushed to the corners. This is less noticeable driving around town than on winding rural roads.

    I spent part of the test drive on the Bush Highway east of Phoenix. The two-lane road has some off-camber turns and steep hills which are good for assessing performance. While the Tucson felt solid and safe, it was less nimble than some of its competitors.

    Spacious interior

    Hyundai Tucson Interior

    Hyundai Tucson Interior

    Increasing the car’s dimensions makes the new Tucson’s interior roomier than the model it replaces. While the center console limits legroom in the center rear position, five adults should be comfortable on short trips.

    The driver and front passenger seats are comfortable on drives several hours in duration, with plenty of lower lumbar support. A dead pedal reduces leg fatigue on long drives.

    Redundant audio, Bluetooth and cruise control functions on the steering wheel reduce driver distraction. Heating and audio controls on the center stack are easy to reach from either front seat. A digital display at the top of the stack shows audio settings. While the black-on-blue display is attractive, it’s hard to read in direct sunlight.

    All four doors have bottle holders, and both rows of passengers have access to cupholders: in the center console and a fold-down rear armrest. Standard USB and auxiliary ports at the base of the center stack are easy to reach from either front seating position. A separate iPod adapter plugs into both. There are three 12-volt power points: two at the base of the center stack, and one in the cargo area.

    Overhead reading lamps up front and a dome lamp over the second-row seats illuminate the interior at night.

    Releases on the second-row seatbacks fold them flat to extend the cargo floor. The Hyundai Tucson meets our bicycle-friendly standards. The spare tire is located under the cargo floor.

    Standard safety

    All models come with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction and stability control. Downhill brake control uses engine braking to maintain slow speeds on steep descents. Hill start assist prevents the vehicle from sliding backwards when accelerating from a stop on a steep ascent.

    Hyundai’s standard factory warranty includes five years of roadside assistance.

    The all-new Tucson is on display at Hyundai dealerships nationwide.

    Likes: A spacious, versatile cross-utility vehicle with seating for up to five adults, a high level of standard safety, and an industry-leading warranty.

    Dislikes: Digital display in the center stack is difficult to read in bright sunlight. There are no vents to circulate air through the back of the cabin.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Hyundai
    Model: Tucson GLS FWD
    Year: 2010
    Base price: $19,995
    As tested: $22,590
    Horsepower: 176 Hp @ 6000 rpm
    Torque: 168 lbs.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Towing: No
    Off-road: No
    Fuel economy: 23/31 mpg city/highway

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