Looking for more European influence at the 2009 Los Angeles auto show? Take a look at the 2010 Hyundai Tucson, which we first saw earlier this year at the Frankfurt motor show.
Unlike the 2011 Sonata, which was styled by Hyundai’s U.S. design studios in Irvine, California, the 2010 Tucson was penned entirely by Hyundai’s European design staff, based out of Frankfurt, Germany. Still, as Hyundai American President John Krafcik says, they “both speak the same language.”
Hyundai calls that design language “Fluidic Sculpture,” and admittedly, it looks quite striking on the Tucson. Strip the badges away from the front grille, wheels, and liftgate, and you may start mistaking it for an Infiniti FX35. Most of these styling cues were first previewed with the ix-onic concept shown at the 2009 Geneva motor show. Thankfully, they’ve witnessed little change during the transition to production.
In the pursuit of fuel economy, Hyundai’s done away with the V-6 option on the 2010 Tucson. Instead, all models -- GLS and Limited -- make use of the company’s 2.4-liter I-4, which pushes out 176 hp at 6000 rpm and 168 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm. Most consumers will likely spring for a six-speed automatic, but a six-speed manual -- available only on the base front-wheel-drive GLS model -- is an interesting option, to say the least.
The 2.4-liter helps the Tucson return some impressive fuel economy figures. A front-wheel-drive Tucson with the manual transmission returns 22/30 mpg (city/highway), while a similar model with the automatic earns a 23/31 mpg rating -- besting a similar 2010 Chevrolet Equinox in the city by 1 mpg. Opting for all-wheel-drive drops the Tucson’s rating to 21/28 mpg -- still an impressive figure, considering the compact crossover does not make use of direct fuel injection.
Those who truly desire the utmost in fuel economy may wish to wait until 2011, when Hyundai will launch a Tucson Blue model, complete with a stingy 2.0-liter I-4. Still, Hyundai says shoppers in this segment are increasingly looking for a sophisticated offering, and the new Tucson is designed to cater to their tastes.
A 160-watt audio system with XM satellite radio and USB-based iPod controls is standard equipment, while niceties like a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, and a new navigation system are optional. Fit and finish in the two examples we briefly sat in was impressive, and the optional saddle-colored leather in the Tucson Limited was gorgeous.
You’ll be able to check out the 2010 Tucson for yourself sooner than later. The first production models should arrive at dealers later this month, with base model pricing starting under $20,000.