The Hyundai Tucson first appeared on the scene in 2005 as a compact SUV with a shape that emulated the popular boxy styling of the times. While most of Tucson’s current competitors still cling to typical crossover shapes, designers at Hyundai have never been bashful about bucking a trend, as evidenced by Tucson’s attractive shape.
While retaining a three-tier lineup, the 2014 hierarchy nomenclature changes, moving from GL/GLS/Limited to GLS/SE/Limited.
For 2014, Hyundai hasn't made any major styling changes. LED taillamps and new projector headlamps with LED accents provide a modern, trendy look without actual sheetmetal changes. A panoramic sunroof with roof side rails adds an upscale touch.
Inside, the high-tech cockpit comes standard with tilt and telescopic steering wheel, steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls, power windows, power door locks, fold-away mirrors and remote keyless entry with alarm and panic button. Front cupholders are illuminated with blue light for nighttime drives. The Tucson Limited has dual front automatic temperature control with CleanAir Ionizer that improves air quality when the heater or air conditioner are running.
Other available features include leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, power driver seat with lumbar support, automatic headlights, front wiper de-icer and new floor console-mounted rear vents.
All models get new engines for 2014.The new 2.0-liter Nu GDI benefits by replacing the multi-port fuel injection with a direct injection (GDI) system. Horsepower remains about the same at 164, but torque increases from146 to 151 lb.-ft. That’s just enough to produce a better driving feel compared with the previous multi-port version. Tucson with the 2.0-liter GDI engine gets an EPA estimated 23/29 mpg city/highway fuel economy figure with a ULEV emissions rating.
The 2.0-liter Tucson is adequate for running errands and commuting, but if you want better performance there’s the 2.4-liter Theta II GDI engine, the same one used in the Sonata and Santa Fe Sport. Direct injection increases horsepower from 176 to 182 and torque from 168 to 177 lb.-ft. This engine gives Tucson the ability to tow up to 2,000 pounds. Tucson SE and Limited with the 2.4-liter engine deliver EPA estimated fuel economy of 21/28 mpg.
All Tucson models use a six-speed automatic transmission with manual control. Tucson’s Active ECO System modifies engine and transmission control to smooth out throttle response. You can realize up to a 5-7 percent increase in real-world fuel economy by turning on Active ECO. All models are available now with AWD.
Tucson benefits from an upgraded suspension, called the Sachs Amplitude Selective Damping system. This helps smooth out the somewhat stiff and choppy ride of the previous model.
The entry-level Tucson GLS now comes with three years of Hyundai's Blue Link telematics service as well as Bluetooth hands-free phone capability. The SE and Limited variants add a new 4.3-inch color touchscreen with rearview camera while Limited buyers can step up to a new and more-intuitive third-generation navigation system with a larger 7.0-inch touchscreen and HD radio.
This new display offers a simpler user interface, enhanced voice recognition commands and improved navigation screens. The system is more intuitive for commonly used tasks. Simple pop-up messages now appear to help pair a cell phone and the voice recognition software understands street addresses and cities all in one sentence. The route screens display speed limits and details the next three maneuvers. One or two button pushes now complete most functions.
Tucson GLS and SE trims have a 160-watt AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers. This system includes SiriusXM Satellite Radio and iPod/USB auxiliary inputs. An available premium audio system with navigation pumps out 360-watts of sound and includes an external amplifier and subwoofer. It also plays compact discs, accesses digital music files employing Bluetooth streaming audio and allows driver and passenger to access their personal listening devices through the iPod/USB/auxiliary inputs.
Base prices start at $21,450 for the GLS, $23,500 for the SE and $26,200 for the Limited.