Hyundai Tucson — An impressive compact crossover

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(September 26, 2021) The Tucson compact crossover has been a perennial best seller for Hyundai, but even so it has encountered a difficult time making inroads against such rivals as the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4. That may change with the all-new fourth generation Tucson. The 2022 model is larger creating adult-sized passenger space in the second row, it has a striking new exterior design highlighted by a head-turning grille, and it gets significantly more gas mileage with two new hybrid variants.


The new Tucson's stylish exterior is a marked improvement over the outgoing Tucson. We especially liked the new front-end design with unique daytime running lights that magically appear from behind the parametric grille in a total of 8 segments – 4 on either side. When the engine is off the lights hide behind the satin finish black-charcoal grille design elements. Tucson's design engineers made a point — they did not want the front of the new Tucson to take on an "anthropomorphic look" with eyes and a face. Rather than “breathing the air” they wanted the vehicle to “process the air.”

Prominent along the sides of the vehicle are angular lines that are chiseled rather than swoopy not unlike the new Hyundai Elantra. There’s also a brushed chrome element that tracks along the line from the side mirrors and follows the arc of the roofline increasing in width as it reaches behind the C pillar adjacent to the rear lift gate.

New taillights are angular reminding us of the n
ew Mustang Mach e, and extends all the way across the rear. The Hyundai “H” emblem is displayed on the lower glass of the rear liftgate and is actually embedded in the glass to keep the window smooth, and the rear wiper is concealed beneath the rear spoiler. Overall,  we think the looks are extremely more attractive.
Inside, the new Tucson starts with the upscale design concepts that debuted on the Sonata and takes them even further. The two share a similarly styled transmission selector cluster, but the rest of the Tucson's interior looks decidedly more tech-heavy. This vibe is highlighted by a frameless digital instrument panel, a button less center stack and 64-color ambient lighting.

The interior design is focused on simplicity with either 8-inch or optional 10.26-inch full-touch screen devoid of hard buttons. All operations are
immediately below the touchscreen and while we miss knobs for the audio system there is steering wheel mounted switchgear. Of course, one can always use voice control for operating functions.

There’s a hoodless digital gauge cluster, and multi-air ventilation, a temperature-adjusting system providing diffused airflow on the front passengers. This indirect, diffusing ventilation system reduces potentially unpleasant airflow and is unique in the automotive industry. Materials and build quality throughout the cabin are well-chosen and refined enough to seem right at home and on par next to the brand's upscale and excellent Palisade SUV.

The Tucson actually has two sizes, but the U.S. only gets the larger model — and this is a good thing. The North American Tucson grows 6.1 inches to 182.3 inches in length and boasts an extra 3.4-inch wheelbase, which translates to 41.3 inches of rear-seat legroom. We think this is a really big deal. There was a time in our life when golf clubs ruled the day. For a long time, the key measurement for a crossover hatchback was how many sets of clubs it would hold. Now the key measurement for us is adult-sized legroom in the second-row seats. The 2022 Tucson quite successfully answers both of those questions — a large cargo area that can hold four sets of clubs and rear-seat room that will draw compliments from its passengers.

The Tucson comes in four trim levels with a choice of three powertrains — SE, SEL, N Line and Limited. The standard gas engine is a 2.5-liter four cylinder making 187 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. That's the engine we drove for a week in our Limited trim Tucson mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

We found the engine adequate for the job at hand with the grunt to give the Tucson enough merging performance to keep us out of trouble and enough two-lane road passing ability to reduce drama. Although 187 horsepower sounds like enough on paper, we kept wishing for just a bit more performance, especially with four adults and cargo on board. For comparison purposes, the Tucson can finish off a 0-to-60 run in about 9 seconds. That's below average for the segment. Using the Sport mode gives the crossover a bit more urgency by holding gears longer before shifting.

The hybrid model not only improves gas mileage, but gives the Tucson 229-horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque using an electric motor and a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder gas engine. The hybrid dispenses with the standard 8-speed transmission in favor of a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). A plug-in hybrid will be available later this year generating 261 horsepower. It will come with a six-speed transmission.

We recommend the hybrid model at a relatively low additional cost of $1,200 with its more rewarding acceleration and gas mileage measured at 37 mpg city, 36 highway and 37 combined compared to the standard gas edition that is rated at 26/33/29 in front-wheel drive and 24/29/26 with AWD.

Pricing for the Tucson starts at $26,550 for the SE and rises to $37,350 for the Limited. The base hybrid starts at $30,650 and the top line Limited hybrid starts at $38,654. Our AWD Limited test car carried a bottom line of $37,454.

2022 Hyundai Tucson


Base price: $26,550; as driven, $37,454
Engine: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 187 @ 6,100 rpm
Torque: 178 foot-pounds @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 108.5 inches
Length: 182.3 inches
Curb weight: 3,695 pounds
Turning circle: 38.6 feet
Towing capacity: 1,650 pounds
Luggage capacity: 38.7 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 74.8 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 14.3 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: (AWD) 24 city, 29 highway, 26 combined
0-60: 9.0 seconds (estimated)
Also consider: Honda CR-V, Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape

The Good
• Eye-catching styling
• Quiet, spacious interior
• Plenty of standard technology and safety
• Excellent rear-seat legroom

The Bad
• Sluggish acceleration from standard engine

The Ugly
• Irksome touch-screen controls