Used Car Review

2012 Hyundai Tucson: Used Car Review

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Used 2012 Hyundai Tucson GLS
Used 2012 Hyundai Tucson
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author photo by Joe Tralongo August 2015

The 2012 Hyundai Tucson is the compact SUV that prides itself on delivering many features and content for a lower price than its competitors. Although it's not quite as big as the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, the 2012 Tucson compensates for its shortcomings by offering dynamic styling and a long list of standard and optional equipment. Available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive, the Tucson makes a great used car, and it's capable of carrying up to five adults or just two adults and a week's worth of outdoor gear. The Tucson also offers a number of features that sometimes aren't even available on its competition.

The Tucson's 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engines rate about midlevel for performance but deliver near class-leading fuel economy. Although it's not as roomy inside as the Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox or Subaru Forester, the Tucson is still a comfortable fit. As good as the Tucson is, there are some drawbacks that are worth mentioning. Ride quality, though improved for 2012, can still feel a bit harsh on bad roads, and the front seats have been roundly criticized for not having much support on long trips. If these are major areas of concern, you may want to look elsewhere. Furthermore, although the 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty drops to 5 years/60,000 miles on a used model, buying a certified pre-owned car restores the full warranty from the time of its original purchase.

What We Like

Unique styling; lots of standard equipment; good fuel economy; less expensive than a comparable Honda or Toyota compact SUV

What We Don't

Engine lineup could use a bit more power and refinement; big blind spots toward the rear; stiff ride; uncomfortable front-seat bottoms; small cargo space with rear seat up

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2012 Tucson GL is powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that's good for 165 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed manual is standard, and a 6-speed automatic is optional. Fuel economy with the manual is 20 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg combined. The automatic moves those figures to 22 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.

Standard on the GLS and Limited is the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, which is good for 176 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. These figures are slightly lower in states that require the California PZEV (Partial Zero Emission Vehicle) standards. Available only with an automatic transmission, fuel economy estimates for the front-drive models are 21 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined. All-wheel-drive models see fuel economy dip to 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2012 Tucson is offered in three trims: GL, GLS and Limited. The GL is only offered with front-wheel drive, while the GLS and Limited can be equipped with all-wheel drive.

For 2012, the Tucson GLS gets the same upgraded suspension as the Limited, as well as a larger gas tank and side-mirror turn signals. Models equipped with the automatic transmission get the fuel-saving Active ECO System.

The Tucson GL includes a 5-speed manual transmission, 17-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, a tilt steering wheel, a rear spoiler, hill-descent control and hill hold, air conditioning, a rear wiper/washer, illuminated window switches, a rear-window defroster, keyless entry, three 12-volt outlets (two up front and one in the cargo bay), a manual height-adjustable driver's seat and a 160-watt 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with a USB port and satellite-radio compatibility. Standard safety features include front airbags, front-seat side-mounted airbags, and front and rear side-curtain airbags. Also standard are electronic traction and stability control systems.

A 6-speed automatic is the only available option.

The Tucson GLS includes a 6-speed automatic transmission, rpm-sensitive power steering, 17-in alloy wheels, an auto up/down driver's power window, leatherette and cloth seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio and cruise controls, heated side mirrors, privacy glass, a roof rack and body color on the mirror caps and door handles.

The Tucson GLS all-wheel-drive model adds heated front seats.

The Navigation package adds a 6.5-in navigation radio, a rear backup camera, automatic headlights and a 360-watt, 7-speaker premium audio system with a powered subwoofer.

The Tucson Limited trim includes all the features in the GLS, plus leather seating, heated front seats, 18-in alloy wheels, an 8-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support, front windshield-wiper de-icers, fog lights, automatic on/off headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control and SACHS Amplitude Selective Damping for improved ride and handling.

The Limited's Premium package adds navigation, an upgraded audio system, a panoramic glass sunroof (removes the roof rails) and a rear backup camera.


Although the 2012 Tucson holds strong resale values, finding a low-mileage model for a good price shouldn't be too difficult. When new, the Tucson costs a bit less than the class-leading Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, and it offers more standard and optional equipment. To get a good idea of the Tucson's price range, we suggest checking the used-car values at You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are currently for sale in your area.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the following recall for the 2012 Hyundai Tucson:

A recall was issued for a possible defect in the steering-wheel airbag mount that may allow the airbag to come loose.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

As for safety, the Tucson performs fairly well in NHTSA's crash tests, scoring four out of five stars in the frontal crash test and five stars in the side-impact crash test. The Tucson also scored four out of five stars in the rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tucson its best rating of Good in all but the small-overlap front crash test, which earned it a Poor rating.

The 2012 Tucson has a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile transferable powertrain warranty. The 10-year/100,000-mile original powertrain warranty is not transferable and applies only to the original owner. However, Hyundai also offers certified pre-owned cars, which are sold through Hyundai dealers after undergoing a 150-point inspection. Certified pre-owned cars are given a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty from the original date the car was placed into service (basically giving you the original owner's warranty), plus the remainder of the original bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Other Cars to Consider

2012 Honda CR-V -- The CR-V has more interior room, better resale and reliability ratings and a more comfortable ride. But the CR-V offers fewer options; don't even bother looking for a panoramic sunroof or front-wiper de-icers.

2012 Nissan Rogue -- The Rogue has a slightly lower resale value but costs less when new. The Rogue also isn't as nicely equipped as the Tucson, and its fuel economy lags behind the Tucson's by a few mpg.

2012 Subaru Forester -- The Forester comes standard with all-wheel drive, has excellent safety, reliability and resale numbers, and offers more interior room. But the Forester's interior is Spartan by comparison, and its old-fashioned 4-speed automatic isn't very efficient or fun. You can, however, get the Forester with all-wheel drive and a 5-speed manual.

Autotrader's Advice

If you live where snow makes a regular appearance, we'd opt for the GLS with all-wheel drive with the Navigation package. It's all you need in a vehicle, unless you absolutely must have leather seats and a panoramic sunroof, in which case it's a loaded Limited for you.

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Used 2012 Hyundai Tucson GLS
Used 2012 Hyundai Tucson
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 Hyundai Tucson: Used Car Review - Autotrader