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Driven: 2014 Hyundai Tucson scores with the value card

Sales of the crossover SUV in North America is second only to the mid-size sedan. Hotly contested, models like Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4, and Ford Escape are all vying for ways to hook buyers. We found out in our test of the Hyundai's Tucson, it's trump card is in the value play.

2014 Hyundai Tucson scores with the value card
2014 Hyundai Tucson scores with the value card
Sam Haymart
2014 Hyundai Tucson scores with the value card
Sam Haymart

Tucson was first introduced in its current generation as a 2010 model, so it has been around the showroom for a while with few visual changes. It still remains smart in its appeal however with clean and simple lines that give it a trim and athletic stance.

The lower body is still lined with black plastic trim which makes for better long term wear in here in the desert back-roads around Phoenix. While 17” alloys are standard on all Tucson's, our Limited trim grade came with larger 18” wheels.

Also equipped on our tester were attractively styled HID headlamps, optional LED tail-lamps and heated side mirrors as well, but does not offer a power lift gate.

Inside were heated and ventilated leather front seats and a large 7” touchscreen top-end audio and navigation system. Adding panache was a rear-view camera and a power opening panoramic sunroof which many in its class don't offer at any price.

The cockpit design is basic to function and doesn't offer some of the outlandish styling flourishes found in the competition. Controls are laid out where they are easy to find and reach, the steering wheel offering many of them right at your finger tips.

An annoyance of daily life with the Tucson is the “I Agree” button that flashes up on the touch screen each and every time you start the vehicle up. It will not go away no matter how long you wait, forcing you to reach out and touch it to see anything like your radio stations, menus, or navigation system.

The infotainment system once past it's legal disclaimer was easy to use and learn. The menus and touchscreen controls are intuitive and respond well to the touch. It was also for the most part easy to see in most lighting conditions.

Rear seat space is competitive but the lower seat cushion is a little low. This positions moderate to tall people such their knees are bent and up high. The door opening is small, but shaped such that egress and ingress wasn't too difficult.

While the lower cushion of the rear seat is fixed and offers no adjustment, rear seat backs do have a two-stage reclining function. They also fold with a 60/40 split which extends the cargo area to a large useable space with a flat load floor.

Under the hood of our Tucson Limited is a new for 2014 2.4 liter GDI engine with 182 horsepower which is paired with a standard 6-speed automatic transmission. It offers both an Active ECO mode for fuel savings and a manual shift capability for more fun.

Power from the larger engine is robust, the automatic transmission quick to offer downshifts when you prod it. The sound at high revs is actually pleasing to the ear, without the rough character of Hyundai engines of the past.

The EPA rated our 2014 Tucson at 21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. Our week with the Tucson netted us 24 mpg combined as promised. These numbers aren't class leading, but not bad either.

Handling on the pavement is supple and well isolated from the noise and vibrations of road surfaces. Offering up a more expensive feel than expected, the chassis is well balanced for ride without being so soft you get a top heavy feeling in corners.

The Tucson offers a fully independent suspension with struts up front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear. New Sachs amplitude selective dampers at all four corners improve ride and response for 2014 and newer models.

The Tucson has a number of driver aids for more challenging conditions like down-hill descent control as well as hill-start assist which keeps you from rolling backwards. It offers 6.7” of ground clearance which isn't as much as some, but adequate for most soft-roading.

The takeaway here is that the Tucson while a vehicle that has been on the market for some time, remains a strong contender in the marketplace by offering a value packed option for its price. As tested our Tucson was $29,835.

While some of its competitors offer new features not available here like power rear hatch, radar based driver aids, it does have options like a panoramic roof not all others offer.

The 2015 Hyundai Tucson arriving at dealers now is mechanically and visually identical to the 2014 model we tested here. It has revised option packages and some new standard features like the LED tail-lamps which were optional on our Limited.

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