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2012 Hyundai Tucson Road Test Review by Martha Hindes

2012 Hyunda Tucson Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

2012 CUV Buyer's Guide - Top 10 Picks


Kia Soul

Cadillac SRX

Mazda CX-9

Honda Crosstour

Hyundai Tucson

If you had a trade off for best crossover feature would you go for styling, standard amenities, or MPG? Or would price be the hook? What about all of the above? After years of languishing on the conservative side of the crossover corral, the 2012 Hyundai Tucson must have learned how to jump the fence.

Actually the fence jumping was a couple of years ago when the Tucson got its first real facelift that took it from the compact-sized sidelines to center stage. But those many months have bode well. Now, for 2012, it carries over as eye candy in sheet metal, a supple, lithe transformation from yesterday's snoozeville that doesn't get stale. Not for a minute.

The 2012 Tucson gets major improvements in fuel economy, thanks to a number of technological improvements, with some highway mileage numbers coming in at 32 MPG. Contributing to those gains are the Hyundai Active ECO System, faster cooling for air conditioning and less demand for it from standard front solar glass and rear privacy glass that keep out heat. There are ride quality gains as well.

Both of the revised powertrains are four cylinder, one a standard 2.0-liter generating 165 horsepower, and an optional 2.4-liter one that's good for 176 horsepower. Yes it has a manual transmission. (We're smiling here since they are so much more fun to drive.) Front disk brakes are larger for better stopping.

According to Hyundai those engine combinations are worthy of some pretty decent mileage numbers. Unless the need for speed overtakes one's right foot, the manual should provide about 23-city and 27-highway miles per gallon. The six-speed Shiftronic automatic with manual feature mated to the 2.4-liter engine does better. That mileage rates at 22/32, so it drop kicks the manual a bit. But expect to shave off a little with all-wheel-drive versions available on GLS and Limited trim levels. Base GL is front-drive only.

The Tucson is loaded with high tech safety systems, including brake assist with panic stop when sudden or emergency stopping is needed. Hillstart Assist Control and Downhill Brake Control help in hilly or mountainous terrain.

Any dislikes could involve the loss of some cargo area because of trendier, more sloping styling. And backing up could present some challenges unless the optional rearview camera is on board. There's a big chunk of "C pillar" in back that effectively blocks some of the view. Proceed with caution.

Tucson isn't the bottom of the pricing scale among comparably-sized crossovers, but is more mid-pack. Manufacturers Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) range from $19,045 to $26,395. Among standard items: EZ lane change assist, active front head restraints, keyless entry with alarm, EcoShift indicator, and tire pressure monitoring.

If you want more goodies, then options range from leather seats and telescoping steering to Bluetooth connectivity and automatic climate control. Top line options include touch screen navi, premium audio and panoramic sunroof. But that pushes the cost into the more premium range. Up models get low rolling resistant tires. And the top Limited trim adds windshield wiper de-icer and Clean Air Ionizer.

If that's not enough, consider Hyundai's claim to fame in recent years, the 10-year 100,000 mile powertrain warranty. There are a lot of American roads that can go in the tour log before one reaches that number.

Visit the Hyundai website, click here.