PINYON CREST, Calif. -- A run up the wiggle route to Pinyon Crest, California 111 etched into granite-crusted slopes of the San Jacinto Mountains overlooking Palm Springs, clearly demonstrates that the agile 2014 Tucson, Hyundai's crossover utility vehicle for the compact class, can hang around a hairpin bend while maintaining a flat stance with four 225/55R18 tires tracing an aggressive line.
Tucson for 2014 in three trim grades presents a new streamlined exterior design with standard LED running lights while beneath the curvy sheetmetal new mechanical hardware on-board includes two advanced 4-in-line engines with gasoline direct injection (GDI) and the suspension enhanced by standard amplitude selective damping (ASD) which optimizes ride, handling and driving comfort.
Formatted with swoopy lines which completely disguise the 2-box body of a 5-door hatchback wagon, Tucson rides on a car's chassis with a long wheelbase length of 103.9 inches and a wide wheel track of 62.4 inches front/rear which sets up a long and broad foundation that promotes chassis stability when steering through a set of curves.
Tucson carries 4-wheel independent suspension components -- MacPherson struts in front with gas-pressurized ASD shocks and a 24.5-mm stabilizer bar plus a rear independent multi-link design using coil springs and gas-charged ASD shocks with a 17-mm stabilizer bar.
Each Tucson gets a motor-driven electric power steering (MDPS) system and 4-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock brake system (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (ESC) and traction control system (TCS).
The spec sheet for 2014 Tucson lists two powertrains and the wagon supports two traction formats for each trim with front-wheel-drive (FWD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD).
Tucson GLS the price-leader draws from Hyundai's new 2.0-liter Nu 4-cylinder GDI engine with continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) equipment.
The plant generates 164 hp at 6200 rpm with torque of 151 lb-ft at 4000 rpm, and it links to a standard 6-speed electronic automatic with Shiftronic manual controls. EPA fuel figures for the 2.0 engine extend to 23 mpg for in-town driving and 29 mpg on the road for FWD, or 21/25 mpg city/highway with AWD.
Tucson SE and Limited editions tote a dual-cam 4-cylinder Theta II engine which displaces 2.4 liters with GDI and CVVT controls. Output runs to 182 hp at 6000 rpm and torque of 177 lb-ft at 4000 rpm. The 6-speed Shiftronic automatic also works with this engine, as fuel economy numbers tally to 21/28 mpg city/highway for FWD and 20/25 mpg city/highway for AWD.
Hyundai's fluidic sculpture applies to the exterior design with curvy shapes for rigid surfaces. The brash face features narrow eye-slit lamp clusters with new projector headlamps and LED accents on front corners flanking a trapezoidal grille with chrome bar and black fins.
Side panels are chiseled with ripples and bulges for the swollen wheelwells fore and aft. At the blunted rump there's a disguised hatchback door with new LED taillight assemblies wrapping around the rear corners.
Tucson's rigid structure whittles out a rather spacious cabin and a utilitarian cargo bay. The cabin layout pitches a pair of bolstered buckets in front flanking a versatile console. On the second row a bench is designed to seat two comfortably but hold three riders if necessary. The seatback splits 60/40 with new 2-stage reclining and it folds down to expand the rear cargo area. The storage area is generous at 25.7 cubic feet but with rear seatbacks folded it expands to 55.8 cubic feet. Also, there's under-floor storage space with a reversible cover.
Tucson GLS lists standard gear including the 2.0-liter engine, 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/60R17 tires, a rear spoiler, power controls for windows/locks/mirrors, air conditioning, remote keyless entry system, tilt/telescope steering wheel, cruise control, cloth upholstery, 6-way adjustable driver seat, Bluetooth connectivity and a 6-speaker audio kit with AM/FM/CD/MP3/USB.
Tucson SE gets more equipment -- the 2.4-liter engine, front foglamps, roof rails, sport body cladding, heated exterior mirrors, 6-way power driver seat, heated front seats and cloth/leatherette upholstery.
Tucson Limited adds 18-inch wheels with 225/55R18 tires, keyless ignition/entry, 2-zone auto climate controls, leather upholstery, a rearview camera and more.
Price points for the 2014 Tucson begin at $21,450 for the GLS FWD. Top model Limited AWD lists for $27,700.