The Tucson is one of the better small SUVs, although neither of its powertrains is ideal. The base SE version gets a 164-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, routing through a six-speed automatic. This version is rather slow and can feel strained. More expensive trims get a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder that uses a seven-speed automated manual transmission. This more powerful setup returned 26 mpg overall, but it suffers from a vibration at very low speeds, such as in parking maneuvers. Ride comfort, handling agility, and noise suppression are commendable. The rear seat is roomy, and controls are easy to use. Advanced safety features, including automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring, are optional.
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2016 Redesign Year
Trim Shown: 2016 Base
The Tucson is derived from the Elantra sedan. Starting in 2005 the standard engine was a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder. The optional 2.7-liter V6 delivered acceleration comparable to the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 four-cylinder models, but fuel economy was unimpressive. Though not very agile, ESC kept it secure in our tests. The ride was comfortable, but suspension noise was pronounced. Cabin access is easy and the rear is roomy. The 2010 redesign dropped the V6 for a more powerful Four. We found this Tucson secure and responsive, well-trimmed and quite spacious, but the ride is stiff and road noise pronounced. The new styling also robbed some cargo space and hurt the view out.
Trim Shown: 2015 Others
A decided improvement over its predecessor, the Tucson’s 2010 to 2015 version was practical. However it was an also-ran in the crowded small SUV space. The only engine was a 2.4-liter four cylinder, which supplied decent acceleration, but tended to be noisy and unpleasant when pushed. It got 22 mpg overall. Handling was secure and responsive, but the ride was stiff and road noise pronounced. Cabin furnishings are quite basic with hard plastics, but controls are easy to use. This generation’s styling also compromised cargo space and severely hampered outward visibility. While this generation did better in crash tests than pre-2010 models, it did poorly in the IIHS narrow offset crash test.
Trim Shown: 2009 Sport Utility
This version of the Tucson doesn’t have much going for it. Crash protection wasn’t up to snuff; the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is not very zippy and is rather noisy. The optional 2.7-liter V6 delivers decent acceleration, but fuel economy is unimpressive. Handling is clumsy, but secure thanks to the standard stability control. The ride is fairly comfortable, but marred by suspension noise. Basically, skip this generation, look to the next one for a better execution all around.