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The entry level SUV/crossover market is easily one of the most highly competitive segments in the auto industry. It should come as no surprise then that Hyundai's Tucson, first launched in 2005, is becoming long-in-the-tooth and doesn't quite have what it takes to hold its own with the wide range of current competitors on the market.

Four years ago the Tucson was a fabulous new vehicle offering plenty of space in a fuel-efficient package at a more-than-competitive price-point. Since then few things have changed… for the Tuscon at least. As for the market, it has evolved significantly.

For starters, there is the look of the Tucson. It's actually a nice looking vehicle and has aged well. The bulbous exterior looks more like the designs of pricier SUVs, or of some of the newer members of this segment – like the Rogue.

More: 2009 Hyundai Tucson on AutoGuide.com
 

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They said:
[quoyr]Overall it’s a pleasing package although it has always been puzzling that the less expensive four-cylinder models get a fully painted body whereas the more expensive SE V6 models get the plastic wheel arches. Intended to give the V6 a more rugged look, it does a better job of making it look cheap.[/quote]

The reason the base Tucson gets a fully painted body is because there is no plastic cladding on the sides over the wheels and rocker panels. It looks like the same cladding but it's not. It's the sheet metal shaped that way. Because there is no plastic cladding it has to be the same color and so do the bumpers.

The mid-level SE has unpainted plastic cladding over the sheet metal. Because the cladding is unpainted the bumpers remain unpainted to match.

The top-level Limited gets body-colored painted plastic cladding and bumpers.

Personally, I like the rugged look of the unpainted cladding. I also prefer the them and the unpainted bumpers for protection from people that like to park by feel. There is no paint to damage on the bumpers from slight impacts. The unpainted side cladding is also free from paint damage that could be caused from road debris.
 
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