2022 Hyundai Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. — Hyundai made a big deal out the introduction of its all-new, fourth-generation Tucson SUV introduced to the automotive media last week in where else but Tucson, Ariz. The outgoing Tucson while in itself a decent and credible compact crossover utility vehicle never gained the traction and sales against newer and more popular crossover competitors like the Toyota RAV4, and Honda CR-V.

Those rivals offered better values and more importantly better fuel-efficiency with hybrid trim levels. Even so, the Tucson grew in popularity since its last generation redesign back in 2014.

Completely redesigned for 2022 with a sharply chiseled exterior design that looks terrific. The big news is that for the first time it will be offered with two new powertrain options the gasoline, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid along with an updated gasoline-only internal-combustion engine. More about those in a minute.

Most noticeable however is the striking new design that’s significantly better looking than the outgoing Tucson. We especially liked the new grille with the noticeable new 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 design engineers made a point that 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 and 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 and subtly as it reaches the behind the C pillar adjacent to the rear lift gate.

New taillights are angular and can’t help but remind us of the new Mustang Mach e. The taillight 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, compared to the RAV4, CR-V or Ford Escape we think the looks are much more attractive.

Hyundai engineers and designers also increased the overall length of the vehicle by just over six inches creating a class leading amount of interior space and legroom. Families of up to five will fit comfortable with the added space. There is no third-row seating offered in the Tucson.

The interior design is focused on simplicity with either 8-inch or optional 10.26-inch full-touch screen void of hard buttons. All operations are immediate 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 brands upscale and excellent Palisade SUV.

We drove both the gas only and the gasoline, hybrid versions at the vehicle launch. Offered in just the three trim levels, the base gasoline trim is powered by 187 horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder and 182-lb-ft of torque and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. This is the same engine that Hyundai drops into several products including the Sonata sedan.

The gasoline, hybrid is anchored by a turbocharged 1.6 liter four-cylinder and combined with the hybrid system delivers 229 horsepower and 258-lb-ft of torque. The hybrid trims come with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Both hybrid and plug-in hybrid comes standard with Hyundai’s HTRAC Advanced AWD System with driver selectable HTRAC Normal, Sport and Smart modes to assist with confident control in all weather conditions.

The other new feature is a pushbutton transmission selector rather than a shifter. Not our favorite but it does clean up the look and center console but only comes on the Limited trim level Tucson.

The plug-in hybrid trim was not available for testing at the media event and will be introduced for sale later this summer. The plug-in hybrid will have a larger battery than the hybrid battery yielding an estimated all-electric range of 28 miles and an estimated fuel economy of over 70 MPGe. Level-2 charging will take less than two hours to recharge the system. A six-speed automatic transmission will be used rather than the CVT. Power comes from a 1.6-liter turbocharged four cylinder and with the larger battery generates 261 horsepower.

Tucson will also be offered in an N Line variant later this summer that adds unique front and rear bumper fascia, grille, black badging and unique 19-inch wheels. Inside there’s N Line logos on the steering wheel, shifter and seats that include leather and fabric seating surfaces and red accents on the seats and door trim. The headliner is black and there are medal pedals and door sill plates. It also adds Bose® premium audio system. There will be three N Line exclusive exterior colors including Ash Black, White Pearl, Titan Gray and Red Crimson. Pricing has not been made available.

We drove both the base and gasoline, hybrid versions and noticed the base model with the smaller 2.5-liter was a disappointment and left us wanting for more power when accelerating and passing. It just wasn’t responsive to throttle inputs and fell far short of the delightful performance of the gasoline, hybrid we drove. We strongly suggest opting for the $1200 higher priced hybrid that was thoroughly satisfying wi
th a compliant ride, precise steering and excellent handling. Plus, the added fuel economy where we averaged 38.8-mpg makes it an easy choice between the two.

The new Tucson also offers a number of segment-first exclusive features competitors don’t have including remote mart park assist that allows owners to park and retrieve their Tucson from the tightest of parking spaces from outside the vehicle. Remote start with heated and ventilated seats that uses a cellular data connection via the Blue Link app to warm up or cool down the vehicle remotely including the seats. Digital key is a segment-exclusive supported via smartphone app allowing the owner to lock, unlock the vehicle, activate the panic alert and start the engine. Finally wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with wireless pairing automatically connecting to the apps.

Standard safety features include Hyundai SmartSense with standard forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane keeping assist, high beam assist, driver attention warning, and rear occupant alert. Optional safety features include blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, safe exit warning, smart cruise control with stop & go, and ultrasonic rear occupant alert.

Overall, the completely redesigned 2022 Hyundai Tucson by far outshines the previous generation model fixing needed improvements and adding advanced features some of which are class exclusives. The vehicle has impressive looks both inside and out and revamped technology to more than satisfy the most ardent of technophobes.

The new Tucson is on sale now with more trim levels to follow this summer.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $24,950 to $37,350
Price as Tested: Not Available
What Makes it go: 2.5-liter 187-hp gasoline only four cylinder paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission or the 1.6-liter turbocharged/electric 229-hp gasoline, electric hybrid paired with a CVT automatic transmission
EPA Fuel Economy: 26/29/33 mpg – City/Highway/Combined base 2.5-liter gasoline only. 37/36/37 mpg – City/Highway/Combined gasoline, electric hybrid
Seating: 5

Crash Test Safety Ratings: The 2022 Hyundai Tucson has not been crash tested as of this writing by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Where Built: Montgomery, Alabama

Competes With:
Chevrolet Equinox
Ford Escape
GMC Terrain
Honda CR-V
Jeep Cherokee
Kia Sportage
Nissan Rogue
Toyota RAV4
Volkswagen Tiguan

Fab Features:
Two new gasoline-hybrid variants offered
Roomy, quiet, comfortable interior
Class exclusive safety and tech features

— Jim Prueter