The crossover/SUVs category is hot, especially for the compact models and there seems to be a steady supply of new models arriving regularly.
Hyundai has been a major player in the compact segment since the Santa Fe was launched in 2001. Then it was followed up with the smaller Tucson in 2005 offering Hyundai shoppers a choice of a seven- or five-passenger compact.
Like all Hyundai products we?ve driven, the five-passenger Tucson has advanced considerably since the start in quality, technology and design. Tucson made a major leap forward in 2010 with a revolutionary new design, more space, better performance and greater technology.
With only small changes since the debut, Hyundai advanced the drive trains for 2014 adding two new engines, the 2.0-liter Nu and 2.4-liter Theta II Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI). We recently spent a week in the 2014 Hyundai Tucson Limited AWD and were pleased with what we found.
All three available trim levels (GLS, SE and Limited) have an extensive standard equipment list and the Limited adds features like leather seating, automatic climate control, push button start and other convenience and cosmetic upgrades which makes it resemble some of the luxury brands crossovers. Overall, the interior gives the impression of quality and good design.
Under the hood of the latest GLS model is a new 164-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder GDI engine linked to a six-speed automatic transmission. For the first time, this engine is also offered in all-wheel drive in addition to the standard front-wheel drive. The FWD version is rated at 23 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined.
The SE and Limited models are equipped with a 2.4-liter Theta II GDI engine which was sourced from the Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe Sport models. Rated at 182 hp the engine accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds and has a top speed limited to 120 mph. Towing capacity is 2,000 pounds giving it the capability of pulling one or two adult toys. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 20/25/22 mpg. We averaged 21.5 mpg during a week split about equally between city and highway driving.
The latest Hyundai GDI engines are equipped with the SACHS Amplitude Selective Damping (ASD) system to improve handling and driving comfort. The Damping system works with the MacPherson strut and multi-link rear suspensions to provide better control plus a smoother ride and it seems to make a difference
On our test route through the local mountain area the Tucson was well balanced with quite nimble handling sweeping turns and hairpin corners with little lean or tire noise. The electric rack and pinion steering felt accurate with good feedback. In addition, the suspension geometry allows the Tucson a tight 34.7-foot turning radius. Overall it?s a fun to drive vehicle with attributes more closely related to a sport sedan than a crossover.
The six-speed transmission is designed and manufactured by Hyundai and has Shiftronic? manual controls on the gated shifter for drivers who want a little more control. The transmissions also have Hyundai?s Active ECO System that modifies engine and transmission control to facilitate a smoother throttle response. Hyundai says the ECO setting can increase fuel economy by five to seven present.
The only available option is a ($2,650) Technology Package for the Limited model. It adds a panoramic sunroof, seven-inch touch screen navigation system, premium audio system, XM NavTraffic? and LED taillights. We rate the Hyundai navigation system as one of the easiest to use.
The Assurance Connected Care version of Hyundai?s innovative Blue Link? telematics system is standard equipment on all models for three years. It provides owners a variety of assistance features, from Automatic Collision to maintenance alerts and vehicle diagnostics. Other available packages add remote access features and help recovering it should be stolen. There?s even an available turn-by-turn navigation package and travel services. To get the whole store on Blue Link go to https://www.hyundaiusa.com/bluelink/.
Fuel Cell Tucson: In other news about the Tucson, Hyundai has been leasing hydrogen-powered electric versions of the Tucson to retail customers in the Los Angeles/Orange County area. The $499 lease price includes unlimited free hydrogen refueling and ?At Your Service Maintenance? on no extra cost. For more information on this innovative program go to www.Hyundai.com/.