2008 Hyundai Tucson SE 4-WD (714)

This week we’re looking at the 2008 Hyundai Tucson SE 4WD. If you gotta have an SUV / Crossover and you don’t need huge, I guess this is a pretty good choice. And 90% of you will never need 4-wheel drive so you can save a bunch of money without it. As much as $5,000 less with the GLS 2.0 2-Wheel Drive.

Hyundai is probably one of the most impressive startup companies in the car business in recent years. Lots of good product without a lot of fan fare. And if I didn’t mention comments from friend and colleague Merkel about how poorly management treats their employees at Hyundai it would be a perfect world. Merkel is a guest writer for my column and as a design engineer and professor of engineering in a prior life he knows a lot about cars and people in the industry. Friends of his who’ve worked for the company tell him the management style and philosophy of Hyundai management is abrasive. When you’re the new kid on the block you surely don’t want other kids talking about what a jerk you are. Well, that’s his opinion and whatever the gossip is, Hyundai products are very impressive, so it can’t be as bad as he suggests. If you work for Hyundai and can add to these comments email me.

Happy cows produce great cheese and unhappy workers can make the company look bad in time.

General Info:

Parts –  US/Canadian 1%. Korea 97%.

Assembly – Ulsan, Korea

Class:  – Crossover / suv.

Cars: – Accent, Azera, Elantra, Entourage, Santa Fe, Sonata, Tiburon, Tucson & Veracruz.


Good news and bad news… Bad news first. Gas prices are obscenely high; Good news is there is less traffic on the highways.

Handling & Performance:

Even with the2.7 liter engine you only get 173 hp so it won’t jump out of its skin for instant acceleration. The 2.0 liter develops 140 horses but I didn’t test that one. The 173 was not particularly impressive. But it must overcome the 4-Wheel Drive anchor weight so the 2-WD may not be as sluggish.


This is a nice size SUV for most uses and provides decent storage space. On the other hand I wouldn’t suggest it to son Mike with 4 kids as it is just not large enough for a large family.

Fit and Finish:



Pricing is very competitive in class. The South Korean’s are enjoying the fruits of capitalism and the labor pool is still affordable to manufacturers. Remember when Japan was like that? Well, that advantage will soon disappear and they, like Japan, will eventually need to begin assembling cars in China where the labor market is less than $1.00 per hour and even less in some trades.

At the Detroit Auto Show (on at this writing), Chinese cars were a hot topic. The fact is it is inevitable they will not only be the assemblers of tomorrow they have already begun making their own products being sold in Asia and Europe. They are where the Japanese were in the 1960s and the Koreans were in the 1980s.

Conveniences and comfort:

All good stuff, but the important features are the disc brakes, stability and traction control.

Consumer Recommendation:

Take advantage of the price point benefit today because of cheaper labor in Korea. The product is capable and the feel and performance is a good value for the money.

Recognized Competition:

Hyundai Tucson $17-23,000, Toyota RAV4 $22-27,000, Jeep Liberty $21-27,000, Honda CRV $21-28,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $20-25,000, Jeep Wrangler $20-30,000, Kia Sportage $16-23,000, Kia Rondo $16-20,000, Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-25,000.

2009 Ford Escape $20-27,000, Ford Escape Hybrid $28-32,000, Subaru Forester $20-28,000, Pontiac Torrent $24-31,000, Saturn Vue Hybrid $ n/a, Acura RDX $34-37,000, VW Tiguan $23-31,000, Chevrolet Equinox $24-31,000 and Mazda CX-7 $24-28,000 .

Good News:

Price competitive advantage, solid feel, fairly good fuel economy and excellent safety tests.

Bad News:

Some will think it a bit underpowered.

Standard Equipment:

2.6 liter engine 173 hp V6 engine, 4-speed auto transmission, 4-WD system, electronic stability and traction control, power assist 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, tire pressure monitoring system, front, side and curtain air bags, audio system with cassette, CD/MP3 player and 6-speakers, keyless entry, power windows and locks, air conditioning, power windows and locks, cruise control, leather wrapped steering wheel, power mirrors, fog lights, 60/40 rear split folding seat, 16” alloy wheels and roof rack.

Gas Stats:

$4.09/ Gal avg. August 5, ‘08


for more information.

17 City and 23 Highway MPG


MSRP $22,735.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2014 – An Automotive Love Affair.

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