The all-new 2010 Hyundai Tucson is the strongest evidence yet that this ambitious company, once a fledgling Korean maker of cheap econoboxes, has become a bona fide international manufacturer of first-quality world cars. Just a glance back at the prior model of Tucson demonstrates how much progress Hyundai has achieved with its brand-new compact crossover. The preponderance of the Tucson's design and engineering took place in Hyundai's Frankfurt-based European tech center, and the product shows it. This is a get-serious crossover (very little about it suggests a truck) that is well appointed, efficient, fuel-stingy and pleasingly fun to drive. It declares in no uncertain terms that Hyundai is the real thing.
The 2010 Tucson is 61 pounds lighter than the previous model, while being longer and wider than its chief rivals, the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Subaru Forester. The Tucson is also the winner in the power-to-weight ratio battle, the key to good performance with good fuel mileage, outstripping, the CR-V, Escape, Forester, as well as Toyota's RAV4 and Nissan's Rogue.
The Tucson is hotly competitive in efficiency, as well. With its 2.4-liter 176-hp inline four, combined with a Hyundai-exclusive new six-speed automatic transmission, the Tucson delivers an exceptional 31 mpg on the highway, leaping far ahead of the preceding model's 25 mpg. And the compact, extremely light new transmission places Hyundai in an elite group of manufacturers who have built their own six-speed automatic.
But obsessive engineering makes Jack a dull car buyer: the new Tucson is far more than long lists of comparative quantities and outputs. Its styling will attract many buyers who have little interest in engineering. And the Tucson's presence is newsworthy because it is so un-Korean. What does that mean? Simply that this sporty, aggressive new design is decidedly European in flavor, capturing the crisp, agile look German styling studios are famous for.
And the Tucson skillfully tricks the eye, to its own benefit. Just as the huge Audi Q7 manages to appear smaller and more athletic than it is, the new Tucson does just the opposite. Its very high beltline and somewhat squinty side-window configuration make this vehicle appear larger and more capacious than it really is. The impact of this is apt to give the viewer a feeling of getting more for the money. Skillfully done.
Simply put, the all-new 2010 Hyundai Tucson is an exceptionally well calculated vehicle that delivers roomy interior space, crisp performance and very good fuel efficiency. And given Hyundais' excellent quality and market-friendly pricing, this is a buy-candidate to be taken extremely seriously.