Maybe it was the 2010 Hyundai Tucson's redesign or the head-turning Kiwi Green color, but this compact SUV had me at hello. It's such an attractive SUV that I decided to skip the rest of my housework when it first arrived at my house and take it out for a drive.
It turns out the old adage -- it's what's on the inside that counts -- can be applied to cars as well as people.
Getting settled into the driver's seat, I wondered if the Tucson's sheer value and exterior cuteness would be enough to win me over. The 2010 Tucson starts at $18,995. My test car, a GLS with four-wheel drive, cost $24,090. The new Tucson is a fantastic value, and, yes, the four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission provided not only great gas mileage but more pep than expected. However, I couldn't get comfortable in this car.
I adjusted my seat every day, trying to find a somewhat comfortable position. By the end of the week test-driving the Tucson, I was bringing a jacket or pillow into the car to use as lumbar support and never found a solution to my head restraint issue.
The 2010 Tucson exterior is the perfect combination of sporty and adorable. From the side, the Tucson is sleek looking, with windows that swoop rearward into a point. This looks great from the outside, but it creates some blind spots for the driver. The body-colored door handles and mirrors look good; they're part of a $1,700 options package.
Because it's an SUV, my kids had to climb into the Tucson. While there weren't any running boards, they managed it without any complaints. The liftgate opens easily to the cargo area, which is a little on the small side.
My four-wheel-drive test car had a 176-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline-four-cylinder engine that takes regular gas and gets 21/28 mpg city/highway. With front-wheel drive, this SUV gets 23/31 mpg.
The Tucson's interior is what I would expect for the car's price: It has a simple look with lots and lots of hard plastic. My hubby couldn't stop tapping the dash in various locations just to hear its clickety-clack sound. The interior didn't blow me away, but it had all the necessities and they were well laid out throughout the cabin.
The five-seater's cloth seats with leatherette, aka vinyl, bolsters looked good, but the driver's seat was unbearable. Without enough support for my lower back and rear end, it was difficult to drive this car without subjecting my passengers to jerky takeoffs.
My kids didn't have any complaints about the back seat. They had tons of legroom, and the cupholders were easy for them to reach in the fold-down armrest.
Though I wasn't wowed by the interior, I did appreciate that my test car had a USB port for an iPod and an MP3 jack. Both are part of a $1,700 options package.
The 2010 Hyundai Tucson has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. To earn the safety nod, a car must receive the highest score of Good in front, side-impact, rear and rollover crash tests. It also must have standard electronic stability control, which the Tucson does.
The Tucson also has standard four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control and six airbags, including side-impact airbags for the front row and side curtains for both rows. Four-wheel drive is optional.
This compact SUV has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the outboard seats. The anchors aren't visible, but they're not buried under the seat cushions, either. My sons' booster seats fit well in the second row. The ample legroom means there's room for a rear-facing infant-safety seat, but I would check the fit of the rear-facing convertible seat, which often need even more backseat room. A forward-facing convertible should fit in the back seat without any problems.
2010 Hyundai Tucson sense and style Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample