By 2005, Korean manufacturer, Hyundai, was gaining momentum. It was ranked number seven in worldwide sales, and number two in initial quality, by marketing researcher, J.D. Power.
This was also the year the company introduced it’s Tucson compact SUV, which was designed to go head-to-head with the Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, and Toyota RAV4.
With a base price of $19,995, the ‘05 Tucson laid claim to being the most affordable SUV in Canada. It was almost three grand less than Hyundai’s Santa Fe, for example.
Offered in two basic versions - GL and GLS - this vintage of Tucson was powered by either a 2.0 four cylinder engine or a 2.7 litre V6. The latter powerplant was taken from the Santa Fe. Power outputs were 140 hp at 6000 rpm, and 173 hp at 6000 rpm, respectively. Two transmissions were available: five-speed manual and four-speed automatic with manual shift feature, and you could get the Tucson in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
The AWD system was a Borg-Warner set up, with an electronic management system; when things start to slip, it automatically transfers half of the engine’s power to the rear wheels, and also allowed you to fully lock the system to provide a continuous 50-50 power split between the front and rear wheels. During most on-road driving conditions, virtually all of the power goes to the front wheels. As far as AWD “slip and grip” systems go, it was a pretty good one and combined with the Tucson’s relatively short wheelbase, made it a decent little off-roader. You wouldn’t want to get in too deep, but aside from hard-core 4X4 enthusiasts, it was capable enough for most folks. It also had a good ride quality out of proportion to its sticker price.
Then, as now, the Tucson was all about practicality. GPS was not available in the first year, and the interior upholstery looked like it was taken from a subway car.
Unsurprisingly, equipment level was high, with 60/40 folding rear seats, front and rear centre consoles, power windows, power door locks, reclining rear seats, and three 12-volt power points all coming standard. With the top of the line GLS AWD version, you got leather interior, heated front seats, and a power sunroof, among other things. Safety equipment included dual front airbags, ABS, a traction control system, and an electronic vehicle stability program.
Although the Tucson was smaller than the Santa Fe, it wasn’t by much. It actually had a slightly longer wheelbase, and interior cargo room was pretty close (1856 litres vs. 2209 litres with the rear seat folded). The Santa Fe had the edge in height and overall length, but not enough to make a huge difference.
Four safety recalls from Transport Canada to report and the most serious one concerns, of all things, the stop light switch. If it’s been incorrectly installed, it could affect a variety of the vehicle’s functions, including the operation of the brake-transmission shift interlock and the cruise control, which could fail to disengage when the brake pedal is depressed. This glitch actually affects just about every model in Hyundai’s line-up, going right up to 2008. Other snafus include a possibly improperly deploying driver’s side airbag, a wonky parking brake mechanism that could allow the car to roll away, and a finicky electronic stability program.
NHTSA has these four on file as well, and a hefty 36 technical service bulletins. The automatic transmission and transaxle seem to have more than their share of concerns, and there’s a goodly number of engine cooling and electrical gremlins as well. Many of these items affect a wide range of Hyundai products. There are also reports of noisy ABS brakes, and plenty of diagnostic issues for service personnel.
Aside from the fuel and audio systems, this, the first year of the Tucson gets a decent review from Consumer Reports, garnering a better than average used car predictability rating. This organization main beef seems to be that the Tucson’s fuel economy isn’t what it could be....a common refrain from owners, as is the four cylinder versions disappointing highway performance. Otherwise, it seems to be standing up well.
J.D. Power, meanwhile, gives the ‘05 Tucson a better than average vehicle dependability rating, and the only real black mark is reserved for the powertrain design quality. Top marks for things like interior design quality and overall mechanical quality.
These days, a five-year old Tucson is going for about half of what it cost new, depending upon trim level and drivetrain configuration. 4WD models are pricier by about $1000 - $1500, and the top of the line GLS is almost $4000 more expensive than the base GL. Interestingly, the Canadian Black Book gives it a much higher resale value than the Red Book.
2005 Hyundai Tucson
Original Base Price: $19,995 ; Black Book Value: $10,650- $14,550; Red Book Value: $8450 - $9850
Engine: 2.0 litre four cylinder & 2.7 litre V6
Horsepower/Torque: 140 hp / 136 ft.lb & 173 hp/178 ft. lb.
Transmission: Five-speed manual/Four-speed
Drive: FWD & AWD
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 12.3 city/8.8 hwy (V6 w. automatic) Regular fuel.
Alternatives:Honda CR-V, Mazda Tribute, Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail.