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Second Gear: Hyundai Tuscon

The Hyundai Tucson built its reputation on value-priced flexibility, capability and sensibility.

The Hyundai Tucson built its reputation on value-priced flexibility, capability and sensibility.
Available to Canadian shoppers from 2005 to 2009, the last generation of this machine competed with the likes of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape.

It was available with two- or four-wheel drive and four- or six-cylinder power to fit a variety of needs and budgets. Affordable pricing was, arguably, key to this machine’s success.

Four-wheel drive models came almost exclusively with the automatic transmission — though a rare four-cylinder, four-wheel drive model with manual transmission was available in 2006.
The six-cylinder engine generated 173 horsepower and came only with the automatic gearbox. The four-cylinder made do with 140 horsepower.

Look for features like leather seating, alloy wheels, tinted glass, a sunroof, stability control, remote entry and air conditioning. Split-folding rear seats added flexibility, and a special anniversary edition was available in front-drive trim towards the end of Tucson’s life, offering upgraded equipment including an in-dash navigation system and premium audio. Look for winter-busting heated wipers and mirrors, too.

What Owners Like
Owners tend to rate fuel mileage, comfort, versatility and equipment levels relative to price the most highly. Other stated plusses include a quiet ride, easy entry and exit, plenty of at-hand storage space and good visibility. Models with the four-wheel drive system are said to be confident performers in the snow, too.

What Owners Hate
Tucson’s plain and cheaply-trimmed cabin, old-school controls, lack of interior colour and smaller rear seats tended to garner the most complaints from owners of the last-generation model. Many owners wished for more power from the four-cylinder engine, too.

Common Issues
Note any ‘check engine’ lights, which could indicate a problem with one or more sensors that control the Tucson’s powerplant engine. This could also indicate a problem with the vehicle’s fuel pump, which is a relatively pricey repair. Do not buy a used Tucson with a check-engine light until you’ve determined why it’s lit up.

The Verdict
Ultimately, the last-generation Tucson looks to be a fairly solid bet when it comes to a small, used crossover SUV. Owner reports of expensive, systematic or worrisome failure of engines, drivetrain parts or other pricey components were infrequent in searches of online owner forums.

Other than some recall work, shoppers can largely expect the first-generation Tucson to be a reliable performer — if it’s been lovingly cared for and properly maintained.

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