Comparing the the all-new 2010 Hyundai Tucson to the previous rendition is quite a shock to the system. First, there's the exterior. Its European-designed sheetmetal boasts flowing natural lines from Hyundai's recent "fluidic sculpture" mantra, meaning there's more than a bit of flair infused in this functional Korean crossover. Secondly, it's more fuel efficient than its demode predecessor, offering more bang for the buck. And lastly, after we spent a few days behind the wheel, it proved itself to be a thoroughly evolved player that's primed and ready to shake up the fierce crossover class populated by the Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox, and Toyota RAV4.

Yes, that is a rather dramatic assertion. But take a glance at the model compared to last year's, and you'll get a good understanding of just how much Hyundai wants to fit in with the segment's fashionable boys and girls. Its lines sweep back considerably from the short, rounded nose, giving the vehicle's outline an impression of sleekness and sportiness. Long gone is the rugged crossover look the brand previously possessed. Say hello to the era of the dapper, softer-roading urban dweller.

It pulls off the Euro-chic look pretty well, we have to say, though we would have preferred lower body-colored bits and a bigger wheel and tire package to better fill out the generous wells. (Our Diamond Silver GLS tester came standard with optional 17-in. alloys wrapped in Kumho Solus KL21s.) Then again, potential buyers can step up to the Limited trim level for standard 18-inchers to take care of the latter.

Ride quality was on the stiffer side for a compact CUV. It was, however, never jarring to the point of severe annoyance or kidney pain. Some bumps and potholes communicated rather harshly during our stay together, but nothing too bad. Bigger front stabilizer bars likely were the culprits for the mildly firm ride. These gripes noted, we ventured into more curvaceous environments and appreciated the Tucson's spry demeanor. Its electronically controlled steering felt more assured than on our First Drive impression (a subsequent calibration might have made this so), with turn-in well prescribed and manageable.