Base Price (MSRP):$18,745.00 / As Tested (MSRP): $29,840.00
View The 2011 Hyundai Tucson Specifications
| Review by: New Car Test Drive
Strong value in a compact SUV.
The 2011 Tucson GL ($18,745) comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, AM/FM/satellite radio/CD/MP3 audio with six speakers, iPod/USB input jacks, iPod cable, roof antenna, power windows, mirrors and locks, remote keyless entry, trip computer, tilt steering, front and cargo area power outlets, bottle holders in all four doors, rear armrest with cupholders, 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback, bodycolor rear spoiler, rear wiper and washer, and 17-inch steel wheels. Tucson GL comes standard with the 5-speed manual but is available with Hyundai's 6-speed automatic transmission ($19,745). The GL is front-wheel drive only.
Tucson GLS 2WD ($21,845) upgrades with leatherette upholstery with cloth inserts, leather-wrapped wheel and shifter, Bluetooth hands-free phone, illuminated vanity mirrors and glovebox, cruise control, steering wheel audio and cruise controls, faux leather inner door trim, soft-touch interior paint, black garnish moldings, and silver roof rails, 17-inch alloy wheels, bodycolor door handles, heated fold-away outside mirrors, privacy glass, roof cross rails, and an engine cover. The GLS comes standard with the 6-speed automatic. The GLS is available with AWD and heated front seats ($23,495). The GLS Navigation Package ($2,000) adds touch-screen navigation, a review camera, premium audio with external amplifier and subwoofer, and automatic headlights.
Tucson Limited ($24,695) and Limited AWD ($26,195) upgrade to leather seating, heated front seats, eight-way adjustable driver's seat, power lumbar support for driver and front passenger, dual-zone automatic temperature control, solar glass, cargo cover, chrome grille and door handles, automatic headlights, front foglights, front wiper de-icer, side repeater exterior mirrors, and 18-inch alloy wheels. New for 2011 are an auto-dimming inside mirror with HomeLink, and high-tech shock absorbers called Amplitude Selective Dampers (ASD) from German supplier Sachs. The Limited Premium Package ($2,850) adds navigation with rearview camera, premium audio, and a panoramic sunroof that deletes the roof rack.
Safety features on all Tucson models include electronic stability control, traction control, hill-start assist, downhill brake control, four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, EBD, brake assist, six airbags with rollover sensor, active front adjustable head restraints, lane-change assist turn signals. All-wheel drive is optional.
This crossover SUV is nothing if not modern. The Hyundai Tucson takes advantage of the current European taste for dynamic thrusting forms and aggressive angularities. It has swoopy lines darting to and fro along its flanks, nose and tail. The side windows have not the slightest hint of being rectangular, with the little triangular windows behind the C-pillar almost squinted shut.
The Tucson has an athletic, muscular look, the four wheels barely contained by their swollen, stuffed-tight wheel arches. A huge, deeply slanted windshield provides excellent forward perspective for the driver, but for rear seat passengers, looking out of the Tucson's narrow side windows is a little like peering out the gun slit of an armored car.
And there will be those who find the Tucson's exterior a little busy looking, while others will find that standing next to the Tucson and looking down its door sides, it looks oddly slab-sided, bigger and heavier than it really is.
As always, there is ample room for debate about the Tucson's styling. The one point that is not debatable is this crossover's high expectations. Its styling is up to the minute, as aggressive as any crossover in the world market. For those youngish families with a taste of sportiness, Hyundai has opened the door wide.
The Hyundai Tucson is roomy and comfortable. The front seats are excellent both in terms of firm support and quality leather. The one-touch up/down driver's power window is one of those conveniences that once you've gotten used to it, you'll never be satisfied with less. Back seat room is lavish for two, adequate for three. If you're looking for a third row, forget it. This is a compact crossover.
The first thing that strikes you climbing into the Tucson is its reassuring feeling of harmony and simplicity. This car's chief designers and stylists may have been German, but in the Tucson there is no hint of the German tendency towards self-indulgent complexity, of making you learn all over again how to do something you already know perfectly well how to do. Decidedly to the contrary, the Tucson offers excellent ergonomics, that all but lost discipline of making a car's controls self-explanatory and intuitive. This Hyundai gets an A-plus in the avoiding annoyances category.
The dashboard's black pebble-grain covering is handsome and anything but econo class. The dashboard instruments are straightforward and dignified, with a water temperature and fuel gauge delivered in electronic readouts. To the left of the steering column are controls for hill assist, a stability-control off switch and the differential locker control. Cruise control and audio switches are provided on the steering wheel, with phone controls partially hidden inside the wheel rim.
The center console is simply laid out, offering audio controls, a navigation system and Bluetooth MP3 capability. Here we encountered one weakness in the Tucson, its forward-slanting navigation screen was all but blinded by glare on sunny days. On the other hand, it is blessedly straightforward to use, with a proper radial knob provided for tuning the audio. Defrost front and rear and individual seat-heater controls are easily selected, while XM is the satellite server of choice, and it should be. Life should always be this easy. But in too many other cars, it isn't. The Tucson interior deserves an A.
The Hyundai Tucson is reasonably agile and responsive, competitive with the other small utilities in its class, such as the CR-V and Escape.
Hyundai's 2.4-liter engine is smooth and quiet in normal driving, but accelerating hard onto a freeway to join the flow of traffic, its thrust is only adequate and the yowl it makes reminds you that it has a small, four-cylinder engine. The 2.4-liter engine is rated 176 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 168 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. It's comparable to the other four-cylinder engines in this class, which do not offer the thrust of a more powerful but more expensive V6. Fuel economy for the 2.4-liter Tucson engine is 22/31 mpg with front-wheel drive.
The Hyundai-designed 6-speed automatic transmission is smooth-shifting and excellent, giving the Tucson a big advantage in efficiency over other vehicles in its class. Additionally, its manual shifting capability is particularly good. In all but the most dramatically ill-advised shift requests, it gives you the gear you command.
The Tucson GL 2.0-liter engine features dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, continuously variable valve timing and a variable intake system. The 2.0-liter produces 165 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 146 pound-feet at 4600. We haven't driven the Tucson GL with the 2.0-liter engine. As the GL is not significantly lighter than the GLS, we have to suspect that performance suffers accordingly. The automatic 2.0-liter is the fuel-economy champion of the line, albeit only by a whisker, with an EPA rating of 23/31 mpg City/Highway. EPA mileage estimates for the 2.0-liter with manual transmission are only 20/27 mpg.
In states that follow California regulations, the GLS and Limited are Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles (PZEV), with horsepower reduced to 170 hp and torque to 163 pound-feet. Pricing and equipment remain the same, so you can satisfy your environmental good intentions with little or no sacrifice.
The motor-driven electric power steering is one of the Tucson's greatest strengths. We found it perfectly calibrated, giving firm steering response and flawless road, leaving us no excuse to become uninterested in the driving experience. Absolutely first class. For 2011, Hyundai says it's even better integrated into the vehicle's Electronic Stability Control.
Ride and handling are good. In corners, the chassis had only mild roll, as would be expected of a vehicle engineered and tuned in Germany.
However, we noted a significant difference between the front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions. Ride quality with the all-wheel-drive models was noticeably harsher than that of the front-drive versions. This proved particularly true when driving the top-of-the-line Limited AWD with 18-inch wheels and therefore tires with shorter sidewalls. This is not to say that the AWD chassis is terrible, and if your planned use for your vehicle dictates all-wheel drive for climatic reasons, then the AWD Tucson will serve your purpose admirably. But if you have no particular need of all-wheel drive, save some money, and get a gentler front-wheel-drive package.
We found the brakes felt good with firm pedal feel and exemplary modulation, meaning nice, smooth, precise stops. All in all as utilities go, a satisfying driving package.
The Hyundai Tucson is a compelling choice among compact SUVs. Tucson offers a lavishly equipped package, with all the engineering, comfort, and over-the-road advantages demanded of a contemporary crossover utility. Far from being just Korean, this vehicle is nothing less than world class, at a price slightly below world class.
Ted West filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after his test drive of the Tucson upstate New York.