2008 Hyundai Tucson Performance

$2,999 - $4,272

2008 Hyundai Tucson Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2008 Hyundai Tucson was new.


Performance: 6.1

Reviewers are divided about the 2008 Hyundai Tucson's performance. Car and Driver notes, "When hustled, the Tucson never cracks a smile, and consequently, neither will the driver."

The Washington Post describes the Tucson as "the kind of vehicle you look forward to driving every day." Most, however, find a mediocre driving experience that is suitable for around-town driving, but doesn't offer the power or handling of competitors. MSN writes that although it isn't as fun as the "CR-V, Rav-4, Escape or Tribute...it has a nice ride and good braking...It just doesn't want to be pushed hard, that's all." USA Today found that "the snow showed that Tucson's four-wheel drive system is good but not great." Kelley Blue Book recommends the Tucson "as long as you don't expect an invigorating experience."

Acceleration and Power

The Tucson -- which is based on the Hyundai Elantra platform -- is available in three trim levels. The GLS is equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with Continuously Variable Valve Timing, five-speed manual transmission (and optional four-speed automatic SHIFTRONIC transmission) and front-wheel (standard) or four-wheel drive (optional on all trims). In addition, the SE and Limited are equipped with 2.7-liter V6 engines, delivering 173 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque, and a four-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC.

Reviews are also mixed about the Tucson's engines. About.com praises the four-cylinder, noting, "The 4-cylinder engine is also identical to the Elantra's, with a healthy 140 hp. Assisted by a 5-speed manual, it provides ample acceleration." Auto Mall USA also praises the powerful V6, saying, "We found the Tucson to be comfortable around town and on the highway, with light steering, adequate power from the available V6 engine, and a smooth four-speed automatic." However, Automobile Magazine represents the majority in saying, "The availability of a V-6 in the cute-ute segment sounds noteworthy, but... the Tucson's noisy 2.7-liter DOHC V-6 is anything but." U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman also reports that the V6 "has good power for passing and towing, but groans heavily and shifts abruptly."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the estimated gas mileage for the base model four-cylinder Tucson with front-wheel drive and manual transmission is 20 miles per gallon (city) and 25 mpg (highway). For the V6, it's 18 mpg (city) and 24 mpg (highway). U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman found the gas mileage "disappointing."

Handling and Braking

Test drivers provide mixed reports on the Tucson's handling. "Tucsons lean toward the cushiony end of the ride-and-handling spectrum, rather than the sporty side," says Cars.com. "The ride is pleasantly smooth on most surfaces, but undulating pavement and even moderate bumps can transmit some roughness to occupants." USA Today cites "good handling" for the Tucson, and Car and Driver says, "Ride motions are damped quickly, and the springs balance handling and comfort admirably." But Kelley Blue Book notes, "Handling is similar to [that of] any small-size SUV, if perhaps less sporty-feeling than, say, a Ford Escape or Mazda Tribute."

According to Hyundai, the Tucson is equipped with four-wheel independent suspension (McPherson strut for the front and multilink for the rear) in addition to power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. Regarding suspension, AutoMedia.com reports, "Generally soft in overall feeling, the Tucson's suspension leans more toward cushiony than sporty." The Car Connection adds that "its strengthened suspension is up to the task, but on rutted logging trails the lack of wheel articulation left us with comparisons to a cocktail shaker."

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