2014 Hyundai Tucson Review: Introduction
The 2014 Hyundai Tucson is an outlier in the small SUV segment: a family hauler that takes its compact status seriously. If you were to judge by the burgeoning girth of most vehicles laying claim to the 'compact' niche, it might seem as though the days of truly tiny sport utilities are long behind us. The Hyundai Tucson - along with a minority of competitors - fights this upward trend, maximizing practicality without pushing out its dimensions past what would be considered modest.
The result is a balance between handling and hauling, an equation that rewards drivers but steals a few cubic feet from the cargo ledger in the process. The 2014 Hyundai Tucson certainly isn't as 'useful' as a larger SUV like the Chevrolet Equinox or the Toyota RAV4, but its appealing price and easy-to-drive character help it to hold its own in a bigger-is-better world.
2014 Hyundai Tucson Review: Models and Prices
The 2014 Hyundai Tucson starts out at a wallet-friendly MSRP of $21,450. Even more appealing is that for the current model year, the Tucson starts at the GLS trim, eliminating the previous base GL edition and introducing a better level of equipment at the entry-level: LED running lights, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, Bluetooth connectivity, an adjustable steering wheel and driver's seat, a CD player, satellite radio, and 17-inch rims. The new SE (MSRP $23,500) trim adds fog lights, a sportier body kit, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, a power driver's seat, vinyl seat covers, and heaters for the front buckets, while the Limited (MSRP $26,200) introduces keyless entry and ignition, dual automatic climate control, genuine leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, the Blue Link telematics system, a rearview camera, and more chrome for the vehicle's exterior. It's important to note that the SE and Limited trims include the larger of the Tucson's two engines as standard equipment, while the GLS sticks with the base unit right out of the box.
No matter how you slice it, the 2014 Hyundai Tucson manages to come in at least somewhat cheaper than most of its rivals. The vehicle I drove for a week was an odd-duck all-wheel drive Canadian-market GLS featuring the 2.4-liter engine, and the total sticker price for the vehicle listed at $25,000.
2014 Hyundai Tucson Review: Design
- The 2014 Hyundai Tucson sees a mild refresh made to its headlights and tail lights.
- New wheels are also in the mix.
The 2014 Hyundai Tucson is quite compact - measuring more than a foot shorter than the Chevrolet Equinox - and as a result its equally small wheelbase gives it kind of a 'guppy' look, with a tall roofline that surges up towards the rear before ending in a somewhat chunky hatch-and-bumper combination. It's not an ugly crossover by any means, but it's not nearly sleek enough to be considered handsome, which leaves it squarely in the 'utilitarian' styling camp. New projector headlights incorporating LED running lights are now available with the Tucson, and LED taillights are included free of charge on all versions of the SUV for 2014. Keen eyes will also spot fresh designs for both the 17 and 18-inch wheels that can be outfitted to the Hyundai.
The interior of the 2014 Hyundai Tucson takes the utility focus of its designers a bit too far. My SE model was a sea of plastic, from the dashboard to the door panels to the center console, and it simply felt cheap and hard to the touch. I was surprised at how much of this particular material had been crammed inside of the Tucson, as Hyundai is usually so careful about the design of its passenger compartments. The compact SUV certainly doesn't live up to the rest of its Korean cousins in this important department.
2014 Hyundai Tucson Review: Comfort and Cargo
- The 2014 Hyundai Tucson does not introduce any new comfort or cargo features.
Unpleasant plastics aside, the 2014 Hyundai Tucson offers good passenger room front and rear, especially considering its small dimensions. I had no trouble sitting in the second row behind a driver of average height, although taller individuals who slam the seat all the way back will no doubt intrude into the personal space of rear-riding adults. Seat comfort was good, too, with the back bench elevated off the floor to a pleasant degree and the front buckets providing adequate levels of grip.
The knock against the Hyundai Tucson's diminutive size is that it provides less total cargo space that other compact SUVs, and this is an undeniable fact: with 55.8 cubic feet available there's a 20 cubic foot gap between the Tucson and vehicles like the Subaru Forester or the Toyota RAV4. Imagine the 25 cubic feet that are available with the rear seats in the upright position added to the final carrying capacity of the Tucson and you get the idea. That being said, 55.8 cubes is still quite useful, and I had no trouble hauling home a patio set that included a folding table and a pair of chairs without even having to fold down the rear row in the Tucson. You're making a sacrifice in total cargo utility, but it's made up for by the Hyundai's other attributes (more on that later).
2014 Hyundai Tucson Review: Features and Controls
- The 2014 Hyundai Tucson adds a new 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen to the SE and Limited trims.
- The Limited sees a seven-inch touchscreen available when navigation is ordered as an option.
The 2014 Hyundai Tucson GLS that I drove did not feature the SUV's latest update - a 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen - which is too bad, because it would have been a nice step up from the multi-line LCD display that serves as the entry-level Tucson's infotainment and communications center. There's nothing wrong with the operation of the unit, as it's logical, and fairly quick at connecting your phone via Bluetooth once you enter the car, but it looks a bit dated, especially when compared to what's available from other vehicles in the segment like the Ford Escape and the Jeep Cherokee.
The rest of the Tucson's switchgear prizes functionality above all else, which is nice in an affordable SUV. Hard buttons for the heated seats, a pleasant dial for the basic climate control system, and easy-to-read gauges in front of the driver are some of the highlights. I'm not a fan of putting too many buttons on the dash to the left of the steering wheel, as it's hard to get at them while underway, and this is where the all-wheel drive lock control was located on the Tucson. I also found the starter-like position of the rear defrost button (and matching heated wiper button on the other side of the center stack) amusing and easy to mistake for a push button ignition in the dark.
2014 Hyundai Tucson Review: Safety and Ratings
- The 2014 Hyundai Tucson does not introduce any new safety equipment.
The 2014 Hyundai Tucson comes with side impact airbags up front, dual forward airbags, side curtain airbags, electronic traction control and stability control, and hill descent control. The vehicle can make use of the Blue Link system's ability to contact emergency personnel in the event of a crash, but you have to upgrade to the Limited trim to benefit from this feature. There's no active safety gear available with the Tucson, which puts it at a disadvantage compared to many of its peers.
2014 Hyundai Tucson Crash-Test Ratings: The Hyundai Tucson earned a four star (out of five) crash safety rating from the NHTSA, while the IIHS rates it 'Good in each important crash test with the exception of the new small-overlap test, where it scored 'Poor.'
2014 Hyundai Tucson Review: Engines and Fuel Economy
- The 2014 Hyundai Tucson gains direct fuel injection for its two revised engines.
- Displacements and fuel efficiency remain the same, but output receives a small boost.
The addition of direct fuel injection to both the 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines offered with the 2014 Hyundai Tucson means a humble increase in power for each respective motor. The smaller of the two now produces 164 horses and 151 lb-ft of torque, while the larger mill is good for 182 ponies and 177 lb-ft of twist. Each engine is yoked to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel mileage is essentially identical for the pair when compared to 2013's stats, with the 2.0-liter leading the way with a rating of 23-mpg in city driving and 29-mpg on the highway. This is just a tick above the 2.4-liter in each measure. The all-wheel drive 2.4-liter that I drove checked in with 20-mpg city and 25-mpg highway.
2014 Hyundai Tucson Review: Driving Impressions
The 2014 Hyundai Tucson's small size is most appreciated when it comes time to cut through downtown traffic. The Tucson feels far lighter on its feet than most of its compact SUV rivals, which is to be expected given its small stature. I was repeatedly surprised by just how pleasant the steering feel was with the small people mover, as I never had to guess what the front wheels were doing (a regular complaint on even luxury sport-utilities making use of electric power steering). This is a nimble SUV that shames several more expensive models, and while it would be a stretch to call it performance-oriented, it certainly doesn't deliver a dull driving experience.
Acceleration from the 2.4-liter mill under the hood of my Tucson could only be termed adequate, but the six-speed automatic transmission did its job without complaint and felt smooth and capable. I was able to test out the all-wheel drive system several times during my week with the car due to a late-season snow storm that left drifts and tall snow banks all over the city of Montreal. In auto mode the Hyundai delivered excellent traction with no torque steer or hint of delay in engaging the rear wheels when things got slippery. I made use of the all-wheel drive lock feature a couple of times, but didn't see any real benefits - auto mode was just that good.
The interior of the 2014 Hyundai Tucson isn't the quietest place in the world when up to speed and yet it's remarkably free of rattles (although I did detect some flex in the SUV's sunroof when moving over bumps). In addition to being responsive, the suspension system did a good job soaking up rough roads without jarring either me or my passengers. It's not a comfort-first ride but it's one that's well in keeping with the Tucson's price.
2014 Hyundai Tucson Review: Final Thoughts
The 2014 Hyundai Tucson doesn't overreach its grasp, and as a result it stands as a pleasant, and inexpensive, compact SUV option for a young family or for someone who needs all-wheel drive and just a little bit more room that what a traditional hatchback has to offer. It's not meant to be all things to all people, and its focus on offering a small foot print, reasonable (although average) fuel economy, and inexpensive yet feature-laden trims (especially the SE) is quite welcome. If I had to fault the Tucson it would be on its interior materials and its lack of high tech safety features, both of which are increasingly becoming important in the small crossover space. As a cheaper alternative to class leaders from Toyota, Honda, and Ford, however, the Tucson has a fighting chance of making a strong impression.
2014 Hyundai Tucson Review: Pros and Cons
2014 Hyundai Tucson Review: Pros and Cons
- Drives well in the city due to small size
- Equipment-to-price ratio is a good one
- Reasonable power from 2.4-liter engine
- Cheap interior plastic is an eyesore
- Cargo area is smaller than several competitors
- Exterior styling is a bit bland
- No active safety gear available
Hyundai Canada supplied the vehicle for this review.