This week, we’re reviewing the 2014 Hyundai Tucson Limited AWD, featuring a reshaped more aerodynamic exterior with extra emphasis on its compact design and nimble driving characteristics.
Built in Ulsan, Korea, 2014 Tucson is a five-passenger SUV available in three models: entry GLS ($21,450), mid level SE ($23,500) and top line Limited ($26,200).
All are available in either front drive or AWD and feature a six-speed “Shiftronic” automatic transmission. The entry “GL” from 2013 with a six-speed manual is discontinued, making the well-equipped GLS automatic the new 2014 entry model. (Pricing above is for front drive Tucsons).
Tucson’s most noticeable change for 2014 is its exterior as both front headlamps and rear taillights receive a new motif. Additionally, two enhanced four cylinder engines are available, including a “GLS only” 2.0 liter, 164-horse four while SE and Limited receive the more powerful 2.4 liter four that delivers 182-horses.
AWD fuel economy for the GLS 2.0 is 21 city and 25 highway, while the 2.4 AWD is very close at 20 city and 25 highway. The front drives, however, deliver better fuel ratings. Tucson SE and Limited 2.4s deliver 21 city and 28 highway while the GLS 2.0 is the best at 23 and 29, respectively.
The EPA fuel mileage is the only area where Hyundai Tucson is at a competitor disadvantage. Last week’s test of a Ford Escape FWD delivered 23 city and 32 highway and bottom lined at $2,000 less. Another proven competitor, Toyota Rav4, offers 24 and 31 MPG on front drive and does better with its AWD at 22 and 29 EPA. Thus, if you’re shopping compact AWD and fuel mileage is a the top line concern, Tucson AWD has a rougher road ahead.
However, there’s more than fuel mileage to compare. Tucson received a Consumer Reports “recommended” nod in 2013 and scored excellent in the magazine’s reliability ratings. Add the 100,000 mile warranty as another positive, and Hyundai Tucson is still a worthy choice. Therefore, I recommend driving the 2.0 Tucson in front drive first, as it compares favorably to Rav4 and Escape.
With true compact dimensions, Tucson offers the shortest wheelbase of the bunch, making Tucson a nimble traveler on highways and country roads and then allows parallel parking in spots where Rav4 and Escape pass by. (Big city residents take note!)
Inside, you’ll be impressed with the numerous standard amenities including 4.3-inch touch screen display, beautiful new dashboard design, easy to operate entertainment and climate controls and comfortable seating. The 60/40 split back row is a bit tight in the legroom area, but this is expected with a true compact class SUV. Our tester only had one option, a $110 carpeted floor mat kit.
Top line Tucson Limited features a surplus of standard features, as expected. Included are fine looking alloy wheels, 18-inch Kuhmo tires, roof side rails, chrome accent grille, keyless ignition and entry, leather interior, dual-zone climate control, retractable rear cargo cover, heated seats, tilt and telescopic leather steering wheel and so much more. All Tucsons are built on a unibody frame and feature fully independent suspensions for better handling.
As for safety, our Tucson came with ABS four-wheel discs, traction and stability control, electronic brake force, all the airbags, hill descent control and Blue Link telematics to name a few. Your Hyundai dealer will gladly explain Bluelink, and all other features including the standard safety rear view camera.
Overall, Tucson GLS in front drive might be a better way to go thanks to superior fuel mileage versus AWD siblings. Neither Tucson engine has power to spare, so we’ll be looking for a turbo Tucson in 2015.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 103.9 inches, 3,439 lb. curb weight, 25.7 to 55.8 cu. ft. of cargo space, 1,000 lb. tow capacity, 6.7-inch ground clearance and a 15.3 gallon fuel tank.
Likes: New design, reliability, warranty, interior
Dislikes: AWD fuel economy, engine noisy under power, city MPG suspect.
Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist