L.A. Auto Show: The 2010 Hyundai Tucson is Hot, Hot, Hot

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If you have ever been to the city of Tucson in the summer time there is an odd sensation that occurs when you exit the air conditioned comfort of the airport. The sliding glass doors open, you take maybe five steps and a level of heat hits you that makes you want to go run back into the airport and book a flight to Sarah Palin''s place in Alaska. Okay, maybe not her place.

I can't tell you how many times I have nearly fainted walking out into the hot, dry air in Tucson. This sort of light-headedness has now become almost the norm for me whenever Hyundai/Kia releases a new model. Now Hyundai/Kia keep coming up with these stunning designs I fear one day I may wind up in the hospital for wooziness.

The last generation Hyundai Tucson was so bad that it was in last place when it was first introduced. Powered by either a lethargic 4 cylinder or one of the most raucous V6 engines on the market today, the old Tucson was about as believable a quality item as Tiger Woods is believable as a good husband. Maybe Tiger could have been the spokesman for the old Tucson, "A car you wont believe in from a guy you cant believe in. Especially if you are my golf club wielding wife."

While I think the new Kia Sorento is a better looking car, the Tucson is far more adventurous looking. Visually it kind of looks like an Infiniti FX35 but let's hope it has more cargo space than that near useless SUV. The front end is quite dynamic and I hope to see it grafted onto the nose of future Hyundais. You know, because Hyundai has always listened to what I had to say in the past.

The interior of the Tucson, while a big improvement over the original, lacks the simplicity and sophistication of the dash in the Kia Sorento. The center console is highly stylized with faux-aluminum trim and the navigation screen looks like it is trying to ape the new Ford Fiestas center console. Beyond that all of the build materials and finishes look first rate. But there is one serious problem.

Someone needs to stop Hyundai before they make another pink leather seat that is supposed to be brown. Brown leather in a car can work but when you insist on giving it a pink hue nobody is going to want to buy that. It can be seen in the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 and now here in the Hyundai Tucson. Thank god its optional.

All Hyundai Tucson models will be powered by a tried and true 2.4 liter 4 cylinder good for 172 horsepower and no V6 model like the one available on the Sorento will be offered. Rumored for next year is a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder blue edition Tucson that will greatly improve on fuel economy. Not that the Tucson needs it considering it gets 23 city/31 highway.

The city of Tucson will always have a special place in my heart. The old Hyundai Tucson used to always make me want to regurgitate my breakfast quite honestly. So kudos to Hyundai for another job well done. Because doing something wrong is a mistake but having the guts to go back a second time to do it right is the backbone of a strong character.
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