Hyundai's Fluidic Sculpture design theme, which debuted on the second-generation Hyundai Tucson, has paid big dividends thus far. Year-to-year sales from August 2009 to August 2010 for the South Korean crossover had jumped a colossal 139 percent. Safe to say, Americans like them some Tucson.
We like it, too. So what did we appreciate? Its value, for one. A base Tucson GL, with a 2.0-liter, 165-horsepower I-4 mated to a five-speed manual, starts at just $19,540. And the GL is not so "base," what with four-wheel disc brakes, iPod and USB connectivity, and keyless entry. While we didn't have a GL on hand, we did procure the use of a front-drive, mid-range GLS and an all-wheel-drive, top-tier Limited, both of which come with a larger 2.4-liter, 176-horse I-4 mated to a six-speed auto. Those two trims also offer a lot of bang for the buck. The Limited AWD, for instance, features leather, 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, and all-wheel drive with a lockable 50/50 torque split -- all for under 27 large.
In addition to its value quotient, the Tucson delivered respectable test numbers -- 0-60 in 8.7 (GLS) and 9.8 (Limited), lateral accel of 0.72 g (GLS) and 0.77 g (Limited) -- as well as excellent fuel economy. The GLS, rated at 22 city/31 highway, returned the best observed gas mileage (20.0 mpg). Further, cargo capacity, at 25.7 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 55.8 with them down is admirable for a small crossover measuring just over 173 inches in length.
Does the Hyundai Tucson have what it takes to be the crowned the 2011 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the year? Tune in on October 19th to find out who takes the title!