Hyundai Tucson JM, one of my favorite cars. Here’s what you need to know before buying one of the most popular SUVs of it’s day and one great success for Hyundai.

Launched in 2004, the first generation Tucson presented itself as a Santa Fe light. A smaller, cheaper and more modern car. If with the first generation of Santa Fe the discussion is down to you either like it or you’d rather watch Preston Lacy engage in hot bodily action with Jason Acuna with Cardi B singing in the background , in the case of Tucson almost everyone agrees that the car looks good enough for our money. But here in the world of classic SUVs it’s not so much about how it looks but it’s about what it can do. In the old world of proper, classic SUVs, because today the so-called SUVs are just regular compacts on stilts that pretend to be what they are not and they were chest-thumping and boasting how they are able to take on Cnoc an Fhreiceadain, even if most of the climbing they do is the curb of an underground parking lot of a shopping mall.

With this said, the Hyundai Tucson JM comes from another era, an era in which there was no such thing as electronic stability control systems or any devices for the nanny state. There was an era when cars like this were driven like trucks, on all sorts of surfaces. An era in which cars were cars, alcohol was alcohol, women were women and meat was meat. Which translates into the Hyundai Tucson JM coming with fairly capable off-roading equipment, with an button-operated electronic 4×4 system, two differentials, a generous approach angle and enough ground clearance tall to haul 30 sacks of potatoes on a forest road. And for most people looking for a Tucson or any other SUV, all this equipment means little to nothing to them. But it’s good to know that you can go off-roading with this car, within regular people’s ideea of off-roading atleast.

Hyundai Tucson JM Engines


  • 2.0 Beta II of 140 horsepower – It may be old and it may be the entry level engine for the Tucson, but it propels the Hyundai Tucson JM faster than you would expect. And if you throw in an LPG conversion, it can be both economical and fast. It’s only real downside is that this was the entry level model so alot of them are manuals and only FWD which is sad. It’s reliable, no-frills economy SUV territory but it’s as devoid of option as Club Penguin is devoid of open pools.
  • 2.7 V6 Delta of 175 horsepower – The fastest, most powerful engine available on the Hyundai Tucson JM. Ridiculous in Europe, standard issue in USA, Australia and other countries where there is no replacement for displacement. LPG compatible in case you care about the fuel economy and the only real issue is with the coilpacks which cost as much as some fine Walmart brandy labeled “XXX”.


2.0 D-Line CRDi of 113 and 140 horsepower – Two totally different engines, even if they are the same D4EA antique. The 113 is ridiculously reliable but dead slow. Pedestrians in walking frames will poke your window to move out of the way as you are too slow.  And if you throw in the 4 speed torque converter automatic then the car is more of a display vehicle as the moving speed is negligible. The 140 horsepower version however has the grunt but lacks the reliability, with turbocharger issues and oil seeping through all the pipes and diesel seeping through the cylinders. But wait, there’s more, as the 140 version also comes with a dual mass flywheel for the manual version and that will break your legs and bank account.


Hyundai Tucson JM Common Issues

  • Not necessarily a bug but a feature, as the Borg-Warner 4×4 system engages only when the car is stationary and put in neutral for the manual gearbox and N for the automagic gearbox. You shouldn’t go faster than 40 km/h when 4×4 is active and you also shouldn’t steer too much because the whole system will break down. Also, there are occasional issues with the rear differential that no longer engages in sort of work activities.
  • As with any SUV that is remotely capable off-road, the car must be checked underneath for dents or hits. Especially in the Hyundai Tucson JM, where it was most likely done off-road as it’s a hugely popular car amongst fishing enthusiats for some reason. Also, all 4 tires must be of the same brand, aproximately same wear and the same dimensions so that the 4×4 system can calculate correctly and not fry itself harder than a student who blasted 5 Brain Damage shots and is now lounging somewhere on the ground and laughing and lacking his phone, wallet, shoes, shirt and pretty much everything of value.

  • Whilst being very reliable, the automatic gearbox does needs it’s oil changed every 60,000 km and it also needs you to be patient I have only 4 speeds. It’s not so much about the gear shifting as it is about the response time and the fact that it’s very long geared. You can go 60 mph in 3rd.

  • Another recurring theme at Hyundai’s of this generation is the brake pads wear indicator. More precisely, it either does not exist or does not work. So it is important to constantly check the condition of the brake pads and disc, possibly at every oil change. In life it is good to be preventive.

Hyundai Tucson JM Verdict

I personally recommend the Hyundai Tucson JM as “my first SUV”, because it is a friendly car for those who have never owned an SUV before.You just have to be aware that an SUV is never cheap to maintain. Even if the purchase price is comparable to that of an i30, maintenance will be several times more expensive. Because that’s how it is in the world of tennis and in the world of SUVs, as a great football player and semi-philosopher in life once say.

Which engines do I recommend? If you’re european then the dicussion goes between the 2 litre petrol and the 2 litre diesel, but the real crown bearer is the 2.7 V6 petrol of 175 horsepower. There I said it.