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2009 Hyundai Tucson Limited 4×4 Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Hyundai, SUV, Test Drives


For 2009, the Hyundai Tucson returns with additional exterior and interior changes that make it even more desirable.  These changes include 4-6% improved fuel economy, all-new 16X6in. alloy wheels, 200-watt Kenwood Navigation/Audio System, a more distinctive chrome grille, new tailgate trim, metal grain interior accents, more color choices and new GLS seat fabric.  The Tucson SE 4X4 receives standard heated front seats and a windshield wiper de-icer.  An optional B&M Racing sport shifter adds shorter throw-lengths and enhances precision to Tucson’s manual four-speed transmission.  All Tucson’s now come with standard XM Satellite radio and an auxiliary audio input.

2009hyundaitucsonbeautyright01smallThe Tucson is a very competitive compact sport utility that rates high against the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Jeep Patriot and Toyota RAV4.  The Tucson has good looks, a choice of two engines, a fully independent suspension, 4X4 option with plenty of room for up to 5-persons and is fun and easy to drive with excellent fuel mileage.  Young families will like the sporty looks and very functional interior.

With gas prices on the rise again and consumers demanding better fuel economy, the 2009 Tucson delivers with a choice of two engines-a 2.0 liter DOHC ‘Beta’ in-line four-cylinder engine that when mated to the four-speed automatic achieves 20mpg/city and 26mpg/highway.  Horsepower is rated at 140 at 6,000rpm, and torque is 136lb.ft. at 4,500rpm. 

2009hyundaitucsonengine01smallIn addition to the smooth and efficient four-cylinder engine, the Tucson also offers an optional 2.7 liter V6 for improved acceleration and passing power.  This ‘Delta’ series engine has an aluminum block and heads to keep weight down, while four-valve combustion chambers and DOHC ensure ample performance.  Horsepower peaks at 173 at 6,000rpm and torque crests at 178lb.ft. at 4,000rpm.  I was impressed with the launch in my Limited 4X4 model.  The V6 with its standard four-speed Shiftronic automatic four-speed and 4X4 drive now delivers 18mpg/city and 23mpg/highway. 

Tucson offers a wide range of transmission choices to suit a variety of customer needs.  In the GLS trim with the standard 4-cylinder engine, owners can choose between a precise five-speed manual with an optional B&M Racing Sport Shifter for more precise shifting or a convenient four-speed Shiftronic automatic.  This sophisticated unit can function like a conventional automatic, but also has manual controls for a more sporty driving experience.  The Shiftronic automatic comes standard with the V6 engine.

2009hyundaitucsonpanleft01smallThe fully independent suspension underpinning the Tucson is excellent for on-road or off-road driving.  a robust MacPheson strut front suspension is used in combination with a multi-link independent rear setup that uses trailing arms and multiple links to control wheel geometry precisely through a full range of suspension motion.  All four wheels are controlled by coil springs and fade-resistant gas-charged shocks.  To help balance the Tucson’s handling and minimizing body roll during cornering, front and rear stabilizer bars are standard on all trim levels.  The handling dynamics are handled beautifully by a responsive power-assisted rack & pinion steering system with a good feel for the road and minimum boost.  Tucson is easy to handle in parking lots and on backcountry trails and has a tighter turning circle, 35.4ft. than a Jeep Patriot 35.6ft., Honda CR-V 37.8ft. or Ford Escape 36.7ft.

2009hyundaitucsonrearaction01smallBraking from speed is also excellent with power-assisted four-wheel discs brakes.  Up front are 11in. vented discs and in the rear are 10.3in. solid discs, with 11.2in. solid disc found in the 4X4 models.  Enhancing braking power and control are four-wheel ABS, Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution which is hard to find in other compact sport utility vehicles.

All Tucson models ride on 16X6in. aluminum wheels wrapped with 215.65R16in. all-season radials with 235/60R16in. standard in the Limited models.  That’s not bad for a compact sport utility and it helps with upgrading the looks in comparison to the competition.

The optional 4X4 system is one of the best of the competition.  For maximum all-season traction and fuel economy, the Tucson 4X4 models come with an electronic torque management system that routes up to 99% 2009hyundaitucsonbadge01smallof the power to the front wheels.  As road conditions or torque demand changes, the system automatically diverts up to 50% of the power to the rear wheels.  This on-demand system operates quickly and unobtrusively by monitoring the throttle position, wheel angle, wheel slippage and routes power to the axle offering the best traction.  The 4X4 system can be manually locked into 4X4 drive for a continuous 50/50 power split between the front and rear wheels for off-road and very slippery road situations.  The system automatically disengages when ABS is activated to provide optimal braking performance.

Besides excellent mechanicals under the skin, the new 2009 Hyundai Tucson looks good.

2009hyundaitucsoncargoarea01smallThe purposeful exterior has a strong, urban presence.  The new distinctive grille and standard alloy wheels enhance its appearance and flexibility.  There is a large rear hatch for easy loading and unloading with a convenient flip-up rear window which eases loading of small or long items.  Both SE and Limited models provide more amenities with new unique alloy wheels, wider tires, as well as fog lamps, bodyside cladding, bodycolored door handles and mirrors, and chrome rear accent trim.  The Tucson looks great from any angle.

Tucson’s five-passenger interior is a handsome blend of comfort, thoughtful features and utility.  It echoes the sleek athleticism of the exterior, with matte-black accents on GLS trim and new metalgrain accents in SE 2009hyundaitucsoninstrumentcluster01smalland Limited versions.  Illuminated power window and door lock switches, combined with high legible analog instrumentation aid in functionality and convenience.  Drive comfort is a top priority in the Tucson’s design, as evidenced by the eight-way adjustable seat with lumbar support and tilt-adjustable steering column.  There are even grab handles above all four-doors, that’s an extra touch.

Versatility is another hallmark for Tucson.  It delivers an impressive 102.6cu.ft. of passenger interior volume, which surpasses Nissan Rogue at 97.5, Ford Escape at 99.5 and Jeep Patriot at 101.7cu.ft.  The standard 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback makes it easy to accommodate passengers and cargo.  Single-lever operation and shingle-style headrests that remain in place speed the conversion from passenger to cargo use.  Tucson has greater cargo space behind the front row at 2009hyundaitucsondashboard01small_edited-165.5cu.ft. compared to Patriot’s 54.2 and Rogue’s 57.9cu.ft.  Tucson is ready to haul gear with an easy-to-clean composite floor load floor.  Underneath the load floor is an additional sectionalized storage area with the spare tire positioned below.  Plenty of storage bins, compartments and eight-cup/bottle holders are positioned throughout the interior, as are three 12-volt power plugs.  Comfort and convenience features include a two-tier front storage console; two cupholders are positioned nearby, with one more in each door pocket.  The rear armrest also includes two cupholders.

Other standard features in the Tucson Limited that I tested include automatic temperature control with outside temperature readout, heated/power-remote side mirrors, remote keyless entry with alarm, AM-FM-2009hyundaitucsonfrontseats01smallXM 6-CD changer with MP3 with auxiliary jack, cruise control, trip computer, leather wrapped steering wheel, leather seating surfaces, power sunroof, metalgrain interior trim, illuminated vanity mirrors, front intermittent windshield wipers/washer/deicer, rear wiper/washer, dual map lamps, and cargo cover.

The optional 200-watt Kenwood in-dash navigation/audio system has been added and was developed exclusively for Hyundai by Kenwood and combines audio, navigation, an auxiliary input into a single head unit, SD card slot and 700MB internal memory.

Standard safety features include electronic stability control and traction control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, LATCH system for child seats, 3-point 2009hyundaitucsonrearseats01smallsafety belts for all seats, front airbags for driver/front passenger and active headrests.

In the fast growing but competitive compact sport utility segment, the new 2009 Hyundai Tucson has quickly gained the respect of the competitors from the US and Japan with its excellent looks, first-rate powertrains, fully independent suspension, strong braking system and fully functional and versatile interior.



2009hyundaitucsondoortrim01smallPrice: MSRP $25,620
Type: Compact SUV
Where Built: South Korea
EPA Class: Sport Utility Vehicles


Length: 170.3 in.
Width: 72.1 in.
Height: 68.1 in.
Wheel Base: 103.5 in.
Ground Clearance: 7.7 in.
Curb Weight: 3548 lbs.
Front Head Room: 38.5 in.
Front Hip Room: 52.4 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 56.6 in.
Rear Head Room: 38.8 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 56.3 in.
Rear Hip Room: 51.2 in.
Front Leg Room: 42.1 in.
Rear Leg Room: 37.2 in.
Luggage Capacity: 22.7 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 66 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 6
Base Engine Size: 2.7 liters
Base Engine Type: V6
Horsepower: 173 hp
Max Horsepower: 6000 rpm
Torque: 178 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4000 rpm
Maximum Payload: 1280 lbs.
Maximum Towing Capacity: 2000 lbs.
Drive Type: 4WD
Turning Circle: 35.4 ft.

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 17.2 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 18 mpg / 23 mpg / 20 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 309.6 mi. / 395.6 mi. / 344 mi.

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