The Tucson has been around since the great rise in popularity that sport utility vehicles still enjoy today. There was a time that when you wanted performance, you had to buy a sports car. Now you can get plenty of performance, plus rugged styling, ample ground clearance, and a tall vantage point often for less than an athletic car. The Tucson has evolved to give people the performance they want. A 2007 Tucson might have only afforded 140 to 173 horsepower. But today those numbers have improved to 161 to 181 horsepower, which is no small amount in a compact Tucson.
In this used buyer’s guide, we’ll walk you through the three generations of Hyundai Tucson so you’re familiar with the best model years and can get exactly what you want.
First Generation (2004-2009)
The first Tucsons came with a 139-horsepower or 173-horsepower engine and standard equipment, such as air conditioning, airbags, electronic stability control, CD player, alloy wheels, remote keyless entry, and premium cloth seats. The Tucson won praise early for its easy-to-fold seats that lie flat to expand the cargo capacity to impressive proportions. Even the front passenger seat lies flat.
In 2006, some of the upper-tier trims got automatic climate control, high-performance sound system, and improved cloth seats. Ask about these features if you’re not sure of trim level. In 2009, you might see the 25th-anniversary edition package that bumps up the quality by adding premium Kenwood stereo system, a Garmin in-dash GPS system, a 2-way power sunroof, body color door handles and mirrors.
Second Generation (2010-2015)
For the second generation of Tucson, Ford decided to improve the cabin. The quality of materials jumped significantly, almost reaching luxury-brand levels. Spacious passenger seating with ample head- and legroom made the Tucson a comfortable home away from home. Beyond that, the power output, fuel-efficiency, comfort and safety features were all upgraded, making the second generation a marked improvement over the preceding generation. The two engine options are a 2-liter producing 165 horsepower or a 2.4-liter four-cylinder making 176 horsepower mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Extra power while also managing to improve fuel economy.
The second generation continued to improve over its market run. In 2012, the suspension was revised. In 2013, Ford added some coveted features to the upper trim levels, such as heated front seats, fog lights, automatic headlights, proximity key entry, and push-button start. In 2014, engines improved yet again, and LED tail and headlights updated the overall exterior impression.
Third Generation (2016-present)
The first model year of the third generation was marred with some serious transmission problems, such as failure to move from a standstill, so avoid the 2016 model year unless you get the transmission thoroughly checked before buying. But the rest of the run has gone much more smoothly. If you’re going green, you’ll love the hybrid electric or hybrid plug-in options. And there Tucson has never been safer, with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and rear parking sensors. The Tucson has only gotten better with age, so we recommend the latter end of the third generation. But the outstanding second generation is close behind.