Hyundai Tucson N Line — Dressed up for curb appeal

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(May 1, 2022) Hyundai has created an eye-appealing N Line package for the 2022 Tucson, its popular crossover that has been met with rave reviews since it entered the marketplace late last summer. It doesn't need enhancements to look good, but the N Line takes the compact crossover to the next level in terms of driveway appeal.

If buying a Tucson we would make the N Line a "must have." Not only does the model come with the special N brand accouterments, but it adds an assortment of desirable safety and technology equipment including adaptive cruise control and a premium Bose sound system for a very reasonable price.

Some of the items the N Line, which is based on the upper level SEL trim, brings are unique 19-inch black alloy wheel design; dual-tipped exhaust; N Line rear spoiler; N Line logos on the steering wheel, shifter and seats; and black headliner.

The N line also gets some head-turning paint colors. Our test car came in Portofino Gray, and that's the color we would order. We were also pleased with the black leather sport seats with cloth inserts and red stitching on the door trim and armrest. Very fetching, indeed.

What the N Line doesn't — unfortunately — bring is an increase in performance. The package comes with the standard 2.5-liter 187 horsepower four-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The N Line treatment in other Hyundai products, such as the mid-sized Sonata sedan, comes with an upgraded 290-horsepower engine and sport-tuned suspension. Likewise the Hyundai Kona ups horsepower from the base engine's 147 horsepower to 195 hp. We wish Hyundai was more consistent across its lineup in what "N Line" means in terms of performance.

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.

To get an upgrade in engine size you would have to opt for the hybrid model that brings a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and an electric motor for a combined 227 horsepower, or the plug-in hybrid that yields a total of 261 horsepower.

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 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 starts at $26,175 and moves through eight levels topping out at $39,295 for the plug-in hybrid. The N Line stats at $32,445 and our all-wheel drive test vehicle carried a bottom line of $33,670.

FYI — Like all Hyundai products, the Tucson carries the industry-best warranties. They include a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty. The Tucson owner will get free maintenance for 3 years or 36,000 miles.

2022 Hyundai Tucson N Line


Base price: $32,445; as driven, $33,670
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, Toyota RAV4

The Good
• Eye-catching styling
• Some neat N Line touches
• Quiet, spacious interior
• Plenty of standard technology and safety

The Bad
• Sluggish acceleration from standard engine

The Ugly
• N Line does not equal more performance