2010 Hyundai Tucson GL AWD
2010 Hyundai Tucson GL AWD. Click image to enlarge

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First Drive: 2010 Hyundai Tucson

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2010 Hyundai Tucson

The bold new styling of the 2010 Hyundai Tucson is a dramatic departure from the conservative 2009 Tucson, and while some SUV buyers may find the change too radical, it’s a good example of how compact SUVs are rapidly evolving from light trucks to crossover vehicles.

The Tucson’s curvaceous lines were inspired by Hyundai’s new corporate styling theme called “fluidic sculpture” which emphasizes a sporty, aerodynamic look with prominent body creases to add character. So far we’ve seen the sporty Genesis Coupe, the dramatic Tucson, and the streamlined 2011 Sonata sedan – with other “fluidic” Hyundai models soon to follow.

Interestingly, though the Tucson is built in South Korea, it was designed and engineered at Hyundai’s Frankfurt, Germany design and technical centre.

2010 Hyundai Tucson GL AWD
2010 Hyundai Tucson GL AWD. Click image to enlarge

While the Tucson’s new styling is the most obvious difference for 2010, it’s the changes under the Tucson’s metal skin that most affect the ownership experience. A new, more powerful and more fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine has replaced both the previous four-cylinder and V6 engines; and new six-speed manual and automatic transmissions have replaced the old five-speed manual and four-speed automatic trannys. The new 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine offers more horsepower and better fuel economy than either of the previous engines.

As well, the 2010 Tucson offers new features, such as standard Downhill Brake Control feature and Hillstart Assist, and an improved electronic all-wheel drive system. Inside, there’s new standard Bluetooth hands-free phone system and new optional touch-screen navigation system and panoramic sunroof.

In terms of size, the 2010 Tucson is still a compact SUV/crossover, but compared to the 2009 model, it’s 115 mm (4.5 in.) longer, 25 mm (1.0 in.) wider, and 75 mm (3.0 in.) lower, with a wheelbase that is 10 mm (0.4 in.) longer. The new Tucson is about the same size as a Ford Escape, but offers more interior room despite its curvy bodywork. However, it’s still smaller than a Toyota RAV4 or a Honda CR-V.

2010 Hyundai Tucson GL AWD
2010 Hyundai Tucson GL AWD. Click image to enlarge

Despite its larger size, the new Tucson is lighter in weight: for example, a 2010 Tucson FWD with automatic transmission is 29 kg (64 lb) lighter than a 2009 Tucson FWD four-cylinder automatic, and 77 kg (170 lbs) lighter than a 2009 Tucson FWD V6 automatic. The 2010 Tucson is also lighter than many of its competitors: the CR-V, RAV4, Forester, Escape, Rogue and Sportage. Hyundai claims it has a better power to weight ratio than all of them with the four-cylinder engine.

Pricing and standard features

Trim levels for the 2010 Tucson are slightly different from 2009. The base L trim has been discontinued, while a GLS trim has been added between the GL and Limited trims. The V6 trim levels, of course, have been discontinued. Pricing has remained steady at GL and GLS levels (formerly GL V6) while Limited models are about $1,500 higher.

2010 MSRPs are as follows: GL FWD manual ($22,999), GL FWD auto ($24,299), GL AWD auto ($26,699), GLS FWD auto ($26,799), GLS AWD auto ($28,999), Limited AWD auto ($32,449), and Limited AWD auto with Navigation ($34,449). In the compact SUV class, those prices are very competitive.

2010 Hyundai Tucson GL AWD
2010 Hyundai Tucson GL AWD. Click image to enlarge

Standard equipment on the 2010 GL FWD includes the 176-hp 2.4-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission, 17-inch all-season tires and steel wheels, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input, USB port, iPod interface, Bluetooth connectivity and six speakers; tilt steering wheel with audio controls, air conditioning, power auto-down driver’s window, keyless entry, cloth seats, six-way manual driver’s seat, 60/40 split-folding second-row seat, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, rear washer/wiper, dual vanity mirrors, active front head restraints, brake assist, tire pressure monitoring system, Hillstart Assist, and Downhill Brake Control.

The GLS adds 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, heated cloth seats with leatherette bolsters, leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic steering wheel, XM satellite radio, cruise control, body-colour mirrors and door handles, privacy glass, windshield de-icer, silver roof rails, illuminated vanity mirrors, and glove compartment light.

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