CHICAGO – Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. continues to expand its U.S. offerings with the Tucson small SUV.

The Tucson, which carries the Southwestern theme begun with the Santa Fe, the South Korean auto maker’s first utility vehicle, will go on sale in late summer in the U.S. as an ’05 model. Hyundai says it is targeting the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Mitsubishi Outlander as its primary competition.

The auto maker says the Tucson will hit full stride with annual volumes of 40,000-50,000 units.

A choice of engines powers the new entry. The base-model GL features Hyundai’s 2L DOHC 4-cyl. engine fitted with continuously variable valve timing and mated to a 5-speed manual transmission or available Shiftronic automatic transmission.

Hyundai Tucson

The more upscale GLS and LX models come with Hyundai’s 2.7L DOHC V-6 mated to the Shiftronic transmission. In this vehicle, the engine is fitted with a variable length, tuned intake system for smoother delivery of power across the entire rev band, Hyundai says.

Four-wheel drive is available on all models. Hyundai chose the Borg-Warner Electronic InterActive Torque Management 4WD system, which shifts up to 99% of available power to the front wheels.

The system, which monitors throttle position, front-wheel angle and slippage, can shift up to 50% of available power to the rear wheels, as road conditions demand. A dashboard-mounted button allows the driver to lock the driveline into a 50:50 torque split as well.

Standard features include 4-wheel disc brakes, air conditioning, power windows and doors, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the driver and front passenger, side-curtain airbags for the front and rear seats, and remote keyless entry. The V-6 models come with front windshield de-icer and a tire pressure warning system.

Available features include leather seats, an antilock braking system with traction control, a power sunroof, front seat warmers and upgraded stereo options.

The 4-door Tucson is smaller than the Santa Fe but continues to communicate a masculine, athletic appearance, Hyundai says.

“The new Hyundai Tucson is a value-packed SUV that will complement the buyer’s active lifestyles,” says Hyundai Motor America President and CEO Robert F. Cosmai.

It also comes with Hyundai’s America’s Best Warranty, the Hyundai Advantage, which includes a 10-year, 100,000-mile (160,930-km) powertrain warranty.

kzachary@primediabusiness.com