DETROIT – Although it had what Hyundai called a fluidic sculpture design, the 2010 Tucson utility vehicle was about as straightforward as they come. Still, the slick design shrouded the pragmatic approach. The 2010 Tucson was designed in the Korean automaker’s German design center. It had muscular bulges around the wheel wells, Hyundai hexagonal grille, low air intakes, sculpted creases, swept headlamps and wrap around taillights. Like a lot of sport cars, Hyundai’s Tucson looked like it was moving while standing still. The vehicle also had another attribute the many sport cars share, a manual transmission.
Yep, my test vehicle had a six speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive. (A six speed automatic gear box is available).The combination gave my Tucson an EPA rating of 22 mpg/city and 30 mpg/HWY. that’s respectable for a passenger car; it’s impressive for a utility vehicle. It took a few days to get used to the manual transmission but once I did my driving experience was not bad. There was an independent strut suspension in the front and a multilink set up in the rear. The set up gave my Tucson a road hugging ride. I thought that commendable since it weighed a relatively light 3,179 lbs. In other words, there wasn’t any bouncing. My test vehicle was powered by a 2.4-liter four cylinder engine that made 176 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque. The small engine was the third reason why my Tucson did so well on gas mileage. But it produced enough power to move my Tucson smartly.
In addition to the straight forward manual transmission, my test vehicle didn’t have a lot of gadgets to add to the sticker. In fact, it didn’t have any. However, the vehicle had everything I really needed. There was satellite radio, an audio system with MP3 capability, an iPod connection as well as a CD player. That was enough for me. Like this Tucson itself, the controls were straightforward. Audio controls were atop the climate controls which weren’t automatic. That’s alright by me. There were a pair of 12 volt sockets at the base of the center stack and in between them was the iPod connection
My test vehicle was sort of a metal flake blue with black interior. There was soft gray patter in the seats which themselves were very comfortable and manually controlled. The side view mirrors were power, the windows and so where the door locks. But that was it. My only gripe with the silver satin used as a template on the instrument controls and as an ample inlay on the steering wheel. I just don’t like the stuff. Still, the interior was nicely done. I didn’t’ get the sense that it would get old in a year or two. It was functional, ergonomically correct and the build quality appeared sturdy.
The second row seat reminded me a little bit of a bench seat, although it did have a headrest for a third passenger. I mean that in a good way. The seat really did look like it could accommodate three people, thus making the 2010 Tucson a five-passenger utility vehicle. There was a fair amount of cargo space which expanded when the second row seat was folded. That created a flat floor but the head rests had to be removed. But it didn’t really matter; it just fit the character of the 2010 Hyundai Tucson.
And the most straightforward characteristic of Hyundai’s Tucson was the price: $19,890.
Frank S. Washington is managing partner/editor of AboutThatCar.com and AboutThatCarBlog.com