CHICAGO -- Hyundai Motor America is that hoping a high profile ad campaign that debuts during the summer Olympics will help get the new Tucson compact sport-utility off to a fast start.
The Tucson, about the size of a Pontiac Vibe, made its world debut at the Chicago Auto Show Wednesday. The vehicle will be priced between $17,000 and $22,000 when it goes on sale in July, said Hyundai Motor America CEO Bob Cosmai.
Hyundai is hoping for sales of 18,000 units in 2004 and between 40,000 and 50,000 sales per year after that. Hyundai will hit the television airwaves during the Olympics to push the Tucson, while at the same time advertising the vehicle in more than 30 magazines. Cosmai would not say how much Hyundai will spend to launch the vehicle this summer.
Tucson will enable Hyundai to move the Sante Fe SUV up market, by making it larger, offering more equipment and a bigger engine. Cosmai said Hyundai will drop the four-cylinder base model version of the Sante Fe this summer.
Tucson will be offered with two engines. The base GL model uses the 140-horsepower, 2.0-liter overhead-cam engine from the Tiburon sport coupe. GLS and LX model will come with Hyundai's 173-horsepower, 2.7-liter V-6.
The four-cylinder engine will be available with a five-speed manual transmission, but the V-6 will be offered only with an automatic. Four-wheel drive will be optional on both engines and all models.
Ed Bradley, Hyundai's vice president of sales, said Tucson's main competitors will be the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4, neither of which offer a V-6 engine. The Ford Escape, the best selling compact SUV, does have an optional V-6.
Tucson's interior takes advantage of one of the recent trends in interiors, more function, but ignores another: the push to make instrument panels more luxurious. The rea seats fold completely flat without having to remove the headrests. However, Tucson's dash was made of hard plastic, and the faux metal did not have a very appealing appearance.
Bradley said the vehicle on display is a production version. Tucson goes on sale this spring in Korea, where it will only be offered with a diesel engine. Hyundai officials would not say if the U.S. version would eventually get the diesel.