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#14

in 2010 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $12,220 - $16,650
Original MSRP: $18,995 - $25,845
MPG: 22 City / 30 Hwy
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2010 Hyundai Tucson Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The redesigned Tucson handles pleasantly for a compact SUV, with the only complaint concerning the numb electric power steering. Its new four-cylinder engine provides more power than the previous engine while boasting excellent fuel economy.

To see how the Tucson does on the road, check out our Tucson video.

  • "Runs up and down Malibu's canyon roads revealed a pleasantly firm suspension that provides nearly flat cornering attitudes and also resists dive and squat. Electric power steering is tuned better than most, if still a bit overboosted at parking-lot speeds." -- Automobile Magazine
  • “Our initial thought was that such winding, treacherous asphalt might be wasted on a compact CUV. We were half right. On the plus side, the Tucson feels (and is) remarkably stiff, especially for a little crossover." -- Autoblog
  • "The electric power steering supplies a super-tight turning circle -- 34.7 feet -- but doesn't move Hyundai's reputation much for lack of road feel. Engineers tried to make it sportier by stair-stepping the power assist with speed, a common practice, but they went overboard on the Tucson. At 60 mph its steering suddenly becomes monstrously heavy, and the wheel snaps back to center as though it's spring-loaded. It reeks of robotic artificiality. Get thee back to the test track, Hyundai!" -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

The 2010 Tucson comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 176 horsepower. This engine replaces the previous model’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder and optional V6 engines. It delivers more horsepower than the previous V6 while boasting better fuel economy. In fact, it provides nearly as much power as the Toyota RAV4’s 179-horsepower four-cylinder engine. Reviewers say the new engine is a champ and has no trouble in passing and merging maneuvers.

The GLS base model is paired with a six-speed manual transmission (or optional six-speed automatic), while the Limited is paired only with the six-speed automatic. The EPA has not yet rated the 2010 Tucson, but it should net significantly better fuel economy than the 2009 model. According to Hyundai, front-wheel-drive models should achieve 22/30 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and 23/31 with the automatic. All-wheel-drive models are estimated at 21/28 mpg.

These fuel economy figures make the Tucson one of the most fuel-efficient non-hybrids in its class. The GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Equinox offer similar fuel economy -- one more mile per gallon on the highway and one less in the city -- but they cost about $3,000 to $5,000 more than the Tucson.

  • "We're not sure we'd want to give up any of the 2.4-liter's 176 ponies. The large four-banger is noisy under hard acceleration, but when cruising, the Tucson is surprisingly quiet. The automatic's six gears are welcome, although the top two seem very close together while the gap between second and third is large." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Hyundai provided a CR-V and RAV4 for comparative purposes, and the Tucson holds up well. It's louder and sounds less refined than its Japanese powerhouse competitors, but the Hyundai has more low-end grunt than the CR-V (admittedly not hard to do). I thought it performed quite adequately for this size of crossover and the automatic's manual mode was responsive enough on my mountain drive." -- Edmunds
  • “With the new engine/trans combo, the vehicle feels quicker and spryer, and has no trouble getting to or staying at freeway speeds." -- Motor Trend
  • "Indeed, [the engine] leads to good performance. It's a little thrashier when you whip the I4 in high demand situations, but good sound insulation and well-managed vibration makes for reasonable levels of noise on full-acceleration." -- About.com
  • "All Tucson drivers can use the Eco Indicator, part of the standard trip computer, which glows green when the driver is driving efficiently." -- Truck Trend

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say the 2010 Tucson, like most crossovers, has a smooth ride feel. However, many of them complain about the new electric power steering system, which they say feels artificial.

  • "Smooth and quiet, the two-wheel-drive Tucson glides over corrupted pavement with a relatively gentle footfall. Not so with the all-wheel-drive version. It has a stiffer suspension that clops down harder on the rough stuff.” -- Car and Driver
  • "Feel could be better, but the electric power steering offers consistent weighting and doesn't feel connected to bungy cords like the Nissan Rogue or connected to nothing like the Chevy Equinox." -- Edmunds
  • "However, the new electric power steering does feel a bit artificial and the suspension doesn't absorb enough of the impact of hitting a pothole." -- Motor Trend
  • "A tight 34.7' turning diameter makes for easy maneuvering in parking lots and around hairpin curves, and stabilizer bars front and rear keep things on the level." -- About.com
  • "It takes more effort to ‘crack’ the wheel out of its on center position, meaning you initially have to put more muscle into turning the wheel and find yourself turning a degree or two more than you intended, especially at higher speeds. However, we got used to the sensation fairly quickly. We should also state that like with most new technologies in cars, the feel of electronic power steering will improve over time.” -- Autoblog

Next Steps: 2010 Hyundai Tucson

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