The Test: The Tucson is a perfect example of doing more with less. Hyundai paired a tiny 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with a seven-speed gearbox, and a turbocharger boosts horsepower to an adequate 175. On hills and muddy farm roads winding through western Wisconsin, its AWD system and Sport mode—perks not found in other value-minded compact crossovers—made quick work of twisty stretches.
You’ll save at the pump, too, since unlike many turbos, the Tucson runs on regular fuel, not premium. For the money, the midlevel Tucson Sport with AWD is the model to choose, as it over-delivers with a quiver of standard features more commonly seen on vehicles costing $5,000 more. Among them: a hands-free powered trunk hatch, a back-up camera, and rear cross-traffic alert. Combine that with a spacious backseat that’s suitable for six-footers and a cargo area that can easily swallows dogs, bikes, and weekend packs and you’ve got a well-outfitted vehicle at a killer price.
The Verdict: The only car you’ll need through years of lifestyle changes and adventure pursuits.
$27,550; 24 mpg city/28 hwy