Test Drive – 2010 Hyundai Tucson Limited

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Base Price: $24,345

Price as Tested: $28,090

This week, it’s Hyundai’s popular and completely redesigned 2010 Tucson Limited we’re testing, one of the countless small to medium size Sport Ute/Crossover vehicles that dot our nation’s roadways. Now a major player in the auto manufacturing business, Korean based Hyundai has long since eliminated it’s poor build quality and horrible depreciation stigmas that made the nameplate a “laugher” not more than a decade ago.

Perhaps one of the best comments I received was from an area businessman who stated, “That’s a great looking vehicle. And, five years ago I wouldn’t have even thought about test driving a Hyundai. Today I would.”

Our discussion centered on Hyundai’s continued revamp of its drive train, increased reliability, low prices, and great warranty. Another impressed onlooker, who now drives a Hyundai, quipped: “Hyundai cared in 2009 when people were losing their jobs. That meant a lot to me and I bought one.”

Enough said. Now, on to the new Tucson.

For 2010, Tucson is not only redesigned, it also has a new 2.4-liter, 16-valve four cylinder engine under the hood connected to a great shifting 6-speed automatic transmission. This combo allows for excellent fuel mileage, as 23 city and 31 highway are the numbers on the price sticker. If you want a manual transmission, you’ll have to go with one of the base GLS Tucsons, which start at an attractive price of just $18,995. Additionally, AWD models are available across the line, which includes GLS and Limited models. (Our tester was the front drive model).

The engine produces 176 horses and 168 lb. ft. of torque, but our vehicle came with the “PZEV” nomenclature, which means it is a California partial zero emission vehicle that delivers 170-horses and 163 lb. ft. of torque. As for acceleration, we timed Tucson on an eighth-mile timed dragstrip at 11.25 and 65 mph, which is acceptable but certainly in a lower G-force category. Remember, however, that 31 mpg highway is a very acceptable tradeoff.

Outside, Tucson’s new design is quite pleasing to the eye and far more aesthetically pleasing than the prior generation. The European/Japanese influenced aerodynamic touches make Tucson a major player, and we have to mention the superb and now copied 10 year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty that goes with each Hyundai sale. As for the interior, expect a new host of inviting Hyundai features, from lumbar power seating to attractive amenities.

Out on the road, I noticed immediately that the new Tucson offered up a better ride thanks to a sport tuned and fully independent strut front and link rear suspension. The older crossovers were more like a marshmallow that a solid handler, but the new Tucson is a very good road performer on all roads thanks to the firm underpinning treatment.

All Tucsons feature downhill brake force assist, electronic stability and traction control, ABS 4-wheel disc brakes, hill descent control, advanced airbags with side curtains, air-conditioning, all the powers, keyless entry, 6-speaker stereo with CD and satellite radio, USB, iPod, and much more. Our tester then added a $2,850 Premium Package, highlighting a panoramic sunroof, easy to use navigation with a 6.5 inch screen, backup review camera and a premium 7-speaker audio upgrade with a subwoofer.

Our Limited also features upgrades like 18-inch tires, alloy wheels, fog lamps, chrome grill and door handles, front deicer, leather upgrades, heated seats and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 103.9 inches, 14.5 gallon fuel tank, 27.5 to 55.8 cu. ft. of cargo space (the latter with second row seat down) and 3,331 pound curb weight.

There is a lot to like about Hyundai’s new 5-passenger Sport Ute/Crossover, from highway fuel mileage to quality build. Remember, too, that most new Hyundai’s are discounted nicely on dealer lots, so now might be a good time to visit the showroom.

Likes: Design, interior, highway fuel mileage, warranty, handling.

Dislikes: City mileage suspect, needs more horsepower.

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist)

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