- The Washington Times - Friday, December 25, 2009

LOS ANGELES | In 2010, a revolutionary Tucson joins the rapidly evolving Hyundai product line. The sleek crossover from Hyundai, with its athletic European design, strikes a stark contrast from its predecessor and improves in every functional area, from its roomier cabin with extra cargo space to its leap in fuel economy and technology. Tucson features the company’s “Fluidic Sculpture” design language and is the first vehicle in Hyundai’s 24/7 version 2.0 product initiative (seven new models by the end of 2011).

The new Tucson is the first Hyundai CUV (crossover utility vehicle) to be designed and engineered in Europe at Hyundai’s Frankfurt-based design and technical centers. It features precedent-setting engineering including advanced weight saving technology and the eco-efficient Theta II 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine delivering up to 31 mpg on the highway. True to Hyundai form, the Tucson applies life-saving safety technologies as standard equipment while offering, for the first time, downhill brake control and hillstart assist control. Likewise, to keep its passengers informed and comfortable Tucson integrates Hyundai’s first panoramic sunroof, touch-screen navigation and a Bluetooth hands-free phone system.

European design

Key attributes of Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy are the athleticism and sophistication that Tucson demonstrates through its flowing lines, full surfaces and muscular presence. This athletic design language is highlighted by bold, dynamic graphic elements such as the new Hyundai family hexagonal front grille, aggressive lower air intake, sculptured hood creases, swept back headlights, sleek greenhouse and wraparound taillights. Chrome grille accents and door handles lend sophistication to the top-of-the-line Tucson Limited.

With an overall length of 173.2 inches, a width of 71.7 inches and a height of 66.3 inches (with roof rails), Tucson has a great stance and road presence. The design team fused a light, elegant and sporty upper body with belt lines flowing off both the front and rear wheel arches, to a tough, planted lower body so that it is assertive in the way it sits on the road.

World-class weight

The new Tuscon is 61 pounds lighter than the outgoing model despite being three inches longer. World-class weight efficiency was one of the program targets for the Tucson engineering team. In fact, the 2010 Tucson leads all of its competitors in weight efficiency. Hyundai engineers also targeted leadership in power-to-weight ratio. Having these targets paid huge dividends in both performance and fuel economy.

The Tucson’s widespread use of high-strength steel provides increased strength at a lower body weight. High-strength steel allows the four-wheel independent suspension to work optimally. At 3,203 pounds for an automatic transmission model, the Tucson is lighter than its competitors, while offering more interior room than Rogue and Escape, with body-bending rigidity 38 percent higher than the Rogue. The Tucson owes its 31 mpg estimated EPA highway rating to its weight efficient unibody architecture.

Fuel economy

The Tucson was engineered to be more fuel-efficient than its predecessor and chief competitors such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. The 2010 Tucson accomplishes this while being 3.3 inches longer and one inch wider than its predecessor and having a longer wheelbase than Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Subaru Forester

Tucson features the Theta II 2.4-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine. The Theta II engine delivers about the same amount of power and acceleration as its predecessor’s V-6 engine with 20 percent better fuel economy than the old four-cylinder engine. In fact, the Tucson is more fuel-efficient than Honda CRV, Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape four-cylinder engines boasting an impressive estimated 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway fuel economy rating with the available six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftroni and front wheel drive. Tucson features low rolling resistance silica tires to contribute to the 31 mpg highway. With all-wheel drive (AWD), Tucson delivers an estimated 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway exceeding the primary competitors AWD versions including Subaru Forester.

The Theta II is rated at 176 horsepower (26 percent more than its predecessor) and 168 lb.-ft. of torque. This high-tech, all-aluminum, 16-valve engine features continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) on both camshafts and a variable induction system for better engine breathing. In the green states, the 2010 Tucson is certified as a partial zero emission vehicle, which means it is as clean as a hybrid.

Capable for out-of-town travel

To make the Tucson even more versatile, Hyundai engineers added an advanced electronic AWD system designed by JTEKT. The AWD system will automatically activate under any driving condition when needed, distributing the power equally and optimizing driving performance. Under normal driving, the system only distributes power to the front wheels thereby reducing fuel consumption. The system includes a driver-selectable AWD lock allowing for a 50/50 torque split between the front and rear wheels for off-road and very slippery conditions.

For even more driver control, the 2010 Tucson features Hyundai’s first hillstart assist control (HAC) and downhill brake control (DBC). HAC is designed to minimize rolling backward on steep ascents. By selecting the DBC switch, the hydro-electronic control unit manages the wheel speed sensors, steering angle sensor and acceleration sensor to maintain control and speed on steep declines without having to use the brake. Neither of these controls are available on CR-V, Escape or Rogue and are typically found on luxury SUVs with much higher price tags. The needs of the driver are fully accommodated, with the interior blending aspects of the outdoors and an urban lifestyle. For example, Hyundai’s first panoramic sunroof brings the outside “inside” for all passengers.

An X-shaped visual theme is repeated across numerous areas of the cabin while metal paint accents provide flashes of visual brilliance.

The long wheelbase and generous width of the Tucson, combined with Hyundai’s expertise in interior packaging, have produced an interior that delivers class-leading rear legroom and improved headroom. These improvements were accomplished while lowering the overall height of the vehicle. The Tucson now has more passenger volume than Rogue and Escape at 101.9 cubic feet. Tucson’s cargo capacity is 13 percent greater than its predecessor. In fact, Tucson has more interior volume than Acura RDX, and more cargo volume than Infiniti FX. The spacious cabin on Tucson Limited is further enhanced for all passengers by Hyundai’s first available panoramic sunroof with UV blocking. The front panel of the sunroof can either tilt open or open completely by sliding up and over the rear panel. An anti-pinch system guards against injuries. Finally, with the extra wheelbase length, Hyundai engineers were able to expand front seat tracks allowing taller drivers a comfortable seating position.

Advanced standard safety technologies

The 2005 Tucson was the first Hyundai model to feature standard electronic stability control (ESC) upon its launch in fall 2004. It was also the first vehicle under $20,000 with standard ESC and six air bags. The Tucson started Hyundai’s approach to combining state-of-the-art safety and affordability and this approach lives on in the 2010 Tucson. The Tucson is loaded with life-saving standard safety features including ESC with traction control, six air bags and active front head restraints. Its braking system features four-wheel disc brakes controlled by an advanced four-channel ABS with brake assist, providing maximum braking force when a panic stop is detected, and electronic brake-force distribution to optimize brake performance with uneven weight distribution.

ESC compares the driver’s intended course with the vehicle’s actual response. If needed, ESC then brakes individual front or rear wheels and/or reduces engine power to help correct understeer or oversteer. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies show SUVs equipped with ESC experience 67 percent fewer single-vehicle crashes, and 63 percent fewer single-vehicle fatalities. In addition, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that ESC reduces the risk of all fatal collisions by 52 percent and the risk of fatal single-vehicle rollovers of SUVs by 80 percent.

The Tucson is engineered to provide its passengers with multiple defensive safety layers. The steel unibody has integrated crumple zones and a high-tensile front sub-frame designed to work together to reduce the forces that typically reach the passenger compartment. Particular attention has been paid to increasing the stiffness of the front side members which have been enlarged and straightened. Also, the center pillars serve as the anchors of a new ring structure which improves overall side structure stiffness while also creating more room for the door armrest and seat. All four doors also have internal guard beams to protect passengers in a side-impact collision.

The entire body shell has been made stiffer and lighter thanks to its extensive use of ultra-high tensile strength steel, which comprises 68.9 percent of the shell compared with its predecessor’s 57.3 percent. Also, the use of tailor welded blanks (TWB) has been expanded on key structural members. TWB assemblies combine steels of different thickness and grades using a sophisticated laser welding and stamping process to achieve an optimal stiffness-to-weight ratio. TWBs reduce body weight while enhancing crash energy management. These safety systems are expected to earn the 2010 Tucson NHTSA’s top five-star crash test rating for front and side impacts.

Tucson’s standard front-seat active head restraints help prevent whiplash by automatically reducing the space between a front occupant’s head and the head restraint during certain rear collisions and are highly recommended by safety organizations such as the IIHS.

The Tucson’s passenger restraint systems also help minimize injury. Three-point belts are provided at all five seating positions, and the front seat belts have pretensioners and load limiters. There are two outboard rear Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) child-seat anchors.

Elongated flush-mounted headlamps not only add a strong sense of style but also feature projector beam lenses for improved night-time driving safety. Side mirror housings have been modified to reduce wind noise and also feature an integrated repeater lamp for improved visibility on the Limited trim.

Tucson also features a standard tire pressure monitoring system, which alerts drivers if one or more tires are under inflated.

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