2012 Tucson New Car Test Drive
Hyundai continues to refine and upgrade the Tucson, its compact-crossover SUV. Improvements for 2012 include bigger brakes; faster-acting, more energy-efficient air conditioning; a smoother ride; a larger gas tank; and better fuel economy from the larger of two four-cylinder engines. Features such as turn-signal repeaters and sophisticated Sachs amplitude-selective shock absorbers, previously reserved for the top-end Limited model, are now standard on the mid-range GLS as well. And those are only the highlights.
The 2012 Hyundai Tucson lineup begins with the value-priced, front-wheel-drive Tucson GL. Powered by a 165-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the Tucson GL rates an EPA-estimated 20/27 City/Highway mpg with its standard 5-speed manual transmission, and 23/31 with its optional 6-speed automatic.
The Tucson GLS and Tucson Limited models are offered with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Power is provided by a 176-horsepower 2.4-liter engine. Hyundai’s superb 6-speed automatic is standard, and for 2012 comes with new Active Eco technology, which makes the response of the engine and transmission smoother to changes in throttle position over time. Hyundai says this can yield as much as a 7-percent gain in real-world fuel economy. EPA ratings for the 2.4-liter Tucson with Active Eco are 22/32 mpg with front-wheel drive and 21/28 mpg with all-wheel drive. New low-rolling-resistance silica tires contribute to those numbers.
Inside, the cabin is a model of straightforwardness and simplicity. It's excellent ergonomically, meaning everything is easy to reach and operate. The materials are nice. The seats are supportive and comfortable. There's plenty of room in both the front and rear seats, with comfortable seating for four, capability for five.
Though Korean, the Tucson design is decidedly European in flavor, sporty and aggressive, capturing the crisp, agile look for which German styling studios are famous. Tucson skillfully tricks the eye, to its benefit. Just as the huge Audi Q7 manages to appear smaller and more athletic than it is, the Tucson does just the opposite. Its high beltline and squinty side-window configuration make the Tucson appear larger and more capacious than it really is. This may give the buyer a feeling of getting more for the money.
In short, the Hyundai Tucson is a well calculated vehicle that delivers roomy interior space, crisp performance and very good fuel efficiency.
The 2012 Tucson GL ($19,145) comes with cloth upholstery; air conditioning; AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio with six speakers, iPod/USB input jacks, iPod cable; roof antenna; power windows, mirrors and locks; remote keyless entry; trip computer; tilt steering; front and cargo area power outlets; bottle holders in all four doors; rear armrest with cupholders; 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback; bodycolor rear spoiler; rear wiper and washer; and 17-inch steel wheels. For 2012 solar glass becomes standard also, with privacy glass in rear windows. Tucson GL comes standard with the 5-speed manual but is available with Hyundai's 6-speed automatic transmission ($20,245), which includes cruise control. The GL is front-wheel drive only.
Tucson GLS 2WD ($22,295) upgrades with leatherette upholstery with cloth inserts, leather-wrapped wheel and shifter, Bluetooth hands-free phone, illuminated vanity mirrors and glovebox, cruise control, steering wheel audio and cruise controls, faux leather inner door trim, soft-touch interior paint, black garnish moldings, silver roof rails, 17-inch alloy wheels, bodycolor door handles, heated fold-away outside mirrors, and an engine cover. New for 2012 are low-rolling-resistance tires, turn-signal repeaters in the outside mirrors, and ASD shock absorbers from Sachs. The GLS comes standard with the 6-speed automatic; it is available with AWD and heated front seats ($23,945).
Tucson Limited ($24,995) and Limited AWD ($26,495) upgrade to leather seating, heated front seats, eight-way adjustable driver's seat, power lumbar support for driver and front passenger, dual-zone automatic temperature control, cargo cover, chrome grille and door handles, automatic headlights, front foglights, front wiper de-icer, an auto-dimming inside mirror with HomeLink, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The Limited Premium Package ($2,850) adds navigation with rearview camera, premium audio, and a panoramic sunroof that deletes the roof rack.
Safety features on all Tucson models include electronic stability control, traction control, hill-start assist, downhill brake control, four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, EBD, brake assist, six airbags with rollover sensor, active front adjustable head restraints, lane-change assist turn signals. All-wheel drive is optional.