Hyundai Tucson Hybrid — Fuel econony, performance

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(January 30, 2022) The Hyundai Tucson compact crossover has been a perennial best seller for Hyundai, but 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.


We figure the standard 2.5-liter four cylinder making 187 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission will be the brand's best seller. We tested that version about six months ago and found it adequate, but a bit tepid for our tastes with a measured 0-to-60 run at about 9 seconds.

Now we've got the opportunity to drive the hybrid version and found it much quicker with better overall handling than the gas-engine-only model. The hybrid — which comes with standard all-wheel drive — has two important things going for it — better fuel economy and a marked improvement in performance. The hybrid's powertrain includes a 59-horsepower electric motor and a 1.6-liter turbocharged four cylinder gas engine making a combined 226 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

That's 39 more horses and an increase of 80 pound-feet of torque over the gas engine resulting in more satisfying performance measured by a 0-to-60 run of 7.1 seconds. The big thing for us in the driving satisfaction department is that the hybrid felt more like an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle than most of the other hybrids in the compact SUV segment, perhaps because employs a six-speed automatic transmission rather than a CVT (continuously variable transmission) as found in nearly all the competition.

The six-speed transmission, while sacrificing a bit of efficiency in terms of gas mileage, results in more rewarding drivability without the slurred throttle response of a stemless transmission. And the handoffs between gas and electric propulsion are seamless, with the electric motor able to solely power the Tucson even at highway speeds.

There is one very annoying aspect of the hybrid — it emits loud beeps much like a large truck when backing. The only other electrified vehicle that we can remember beeping like this is the Toyota Prius.

Another advantage of the hybrid over its gas-engine counterpart is gas mileage, which is EPA-rated at 37 mpg city, 36 highway and 37 combined. That's compared to the AWD gas engine which is rated at 24/29/26. In 300 miles, we averaged just over 30 mpg, not up to the EPA estimates, but better than the gas engine version — and our lead-foot driving doesn't contribute to gas mileage.

You will have to pay a bit more for the hybrid. Our Limited AWD test vehicle carried a base price of $38,725 for the top-line Limited trim compared to $37,575 for the same Limited gas-engine version. You can get into the hybrid for as low as $30,425 for the Hybrid Blue. The mid-trim level SEL Convenience Hybrid begins at $33,025. All prices include the $1,185 destination charge.

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 new Mustang Mach e, and extends 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 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 buttonless 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 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.

If towing small weekend toys is part of your lifestyle, the hybrid has a 2,000-pound tow rating.

Of course, all Tucsons come with Hyundai's very generous 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty that includes the battery in the hybrid.

We were impressed with the hybrid variant of the Tucson with its added performance, excellent handling characteristics, and increased gas mileage. The bottom line price on our Limited with a couple of low-cost options including the Quartz White paint was $39,054

2020 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid


Base price: $30,425; as driven, $39,054
Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, electric motor
Horsepower: 226
Torque: 258 pound-feet
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 108.5 inches
Length: 182.3 inches
Curb weight: 3,841 pounds
Turning circle: 38.6 feet
Towing capacity: 2,000 pounds
Luggage capacity 38.7 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 74.8 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 14.3 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 37 city, 36 highway, 37 combined
0-60: 7.1 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Honda CR-V hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, Toyota RAV4 hybrid

The Good
• Much quicker than non-hybrid model
• Spacious rear seating
• Quiet interior
• Eye-catching styling

The Bad
• Annoying beeper when in reverse

The Ugly
• Some competitors have better mileage numbers