With 30-35 miles of battery-electric range, driving the 2022 Tucson plug-in is like getting a free gallon of gas every morning

An exterior view of the Hyundai Tucson plug-in SUV

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson Plug-in hybrid is sold in two all-wheel-drive trim levels. The starting prices are $40,745 and $43,945. (Photos courtesy of Hyundai USA or the author)

Table of Contents

Overview
Pricing
Hybrid Vehicle Incentives and Rebates
Performance
Ride and Handling
Interior Function
Back Seats and Cargo
Why Buy the Hyundai Tucson PHEV?
Specifications

BY MARK MAYNARD

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson plug-in hybrid is an effective shield from surging gas prices. It is not as effective as a full battery-electric vehicle, but the latest PHEVs have a valid real-world driving range without the high cost for drivers not quite ready to cut the gasoline hose.

Among the mainstream choices for a plug-in hybrid:*

Ford Escape PHEV, $35,185, with 38 miles of EV driving range and 600 miles total combined gas and electric range. Sold in front-wheel drive only.

Toyota RAV4 Prime, $41,015, with 42 miles of EV driving range, in front- or all-wheel drive.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2023), $37,000, estimated: The new Outlander PHEV, with standard all-wheel drive, will debut in the U.S. in the second half of 2022. Industry reports estimate it will be capable of 35-plus miles of all-electric driving.

*Starting MSRPs include the freight charge but no federal, state, or local incentives. See below for those details.

An interior view of the Tucson front seat area

The elegant dual-cockpit presentation.

Hyundai Tucson PHEV Overview

The compact-class Tucson SUV is Hyundai’s top seller among its 13 models. A year ago, Hyundai debuted a completely redesigned Tucson SUV, which was followed this year by the sporty Tucson N Line and Tucson Plug-in Hybrid models.

So far, the Hyundai Tucson Plug-in is sold only in California and 10 other states with increased emissions standards — Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The hybrid powertrain in the 2022 Tucson plug-in is comprised of a 180-horsepower, 1.6-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine that is integrated with a 90-hp, 66.9kW electric drive motor. Total system power is 261-hp.

The lithium-ion hybrid battery has 13.8 kWh of power, which provides an all-electric range of 30-35 miles. But careful driving can yield more miles on battery power.

The combined city/highway fuel economy rating of 35 mpg is impressive because it factors all-wheel drive and curb weights of 4,081 to 4,235 pounds. And Hyundai did not cheat on the level of engineering and the quality and appearance of interior materials or engineering.

A side view of the Tucson front seats

Seat comfort is supportive without aggressive bolstering.

Tucson PHEV Pricing

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson plug-in is sold in two all-wheel-drive trim levels of SEL Convenience and Limited. The starting prices are $36,645 and $43,200, including the $1,245 freight charge from Ulsan, Korea.

Today’s Limited tester was $45,040, which included $400 for metallic Deep Sea (blue) paint and $195 for two rows of carpeted floor mats.

Standard equipment for the Limited includes:

  • Smart-key locking and push-button ignition.
  •  Rearview monitor with guidance lines.
  • Bose audio system.
  • Heated rear seats.
  • Leather-trimmed upholstery.
  • Panoramic sunroof.

See the standard and optional equipment list in the specs box at the end of this story.

The elegantly designed door panel

Slim, dual metallic lines, separated by a band of piano black, span the dashboard and carry into the upper door panels. (Mark Maynard)

Hyundai Special Purchase Offers

Currently, there is a $500 Dealer Choice Cash offer for both 2022 Hyundai Tucson plug-in models through May 31. But the vehicle must be purchased from dealer stock, and it must be financed through Hyundai Motor Finance.

The bigger catch is the availability of either Tucson PHEV. As of this writing, dealer deliveries of Tucson PHEVs were a month or farther out. If you visit a dealership, the sales rep will add your name to a list of potential buyers. A San Diego dealer told me that it is not possible (in most cases) to order a vehicle with your preferences. Hyundai specs out the vehicles and ships them to the dealership, a few at a time. When vehicles arrive, the dealer will call with details on what is available with the trim level, paint color, and options. Take it, leave it, or wait a while.

Get current Hyundai Tucson pricing here.

Smartphone app for accessing the vehicle

Use the Hyundai Digital Key to unlock doors, start the engine, and precondition the cabin.

Hybrid Vehicle Incentives and Rebates

The federal government offers a Plug-In Electric Vehicle Tax Credit of $6,587 for the Tucson PHEV.

California offers a Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Credit of $658.35 for the Tucson PHEV.

And the Tucson PHEV qualifies for High-Occupancy-Vehicle freeway access with the green DMV decal ($22).
Find federal and state laws or incentives here.

Tucson PHEV Performance

Unlike most plug-in hybrid models that use a continuously variable automatic transmission, the Tucson plug-in hybrid delivers smooth and consistent power through its stepped six-speed automatic transmission. Hyundai says the transmission is tuned to support the greater performance demands of a hybrid SUV.

There are three driving modes of Automatic, Electric, and Hybrid. Electric mode prioritizes EV usage. It functions, essentially, as an EV except in heavy acceleration or when driving above 70 mph or so. Otherwise, the operation of the PHEV system is fully automatic and applies the most efficient mode, whether gasoline, electric or hybrid.

In my driving experience, it is a sad moment when the battery power drains and the engine fires. The transition is hardly noticeable, but acceleration with electric boost feels more responsive. But with a full tank, there is still another 330 to potentially 400 miles of gasoline driving range.

The battery pack can be fully charged in less than two hours using a home Level 2 240-volt charger.

Tucson PHEV engine and motor

The 261-hp hybrid powertrain in the 2022 Tucson plug-in.

Tucson PHEV Ride and Handling

Suspension engineering is not always simple for the heavier curb weights of an electrified compact SUV. But the Tucson PHEV suspension uses Hyundai’s sophisticated e-handling technology.

When a driver steerw into a corner, the motor system applies incremental braking to the front wheels, which increases the tire contact patch for enhanced traction and steering. Then, as the vehicle exits the corner, the electric motor applies torque to the rear axle, which increases the rear tire grip for control accelerating out of the corner.

The ride is comfortably steady without the objectionable jostle of head toss over street transitions and speed bumps. Evasive or emergency maneuvers are well controlled by the front MacPherson struts with coil springs, the rear multilink, and gas-pressurized shock absorbers front and rear.

Regenerative braking functions without lag or nosedive. The four-wheel discs have 12.8-inch ventilated discs at the front and 12-inch solid discs rear. Whether braking, coasting on the highway or going downhill, the battery gets an incremental recharge.

Both Tucson PHEV models have aero-attractive 19-inch wheels and 235/55 Michelin Primacy all-season tires.

The Tucson (and Santa Fe SUV) hybrids have standard, mechanical HTRAC AWD. Hyundai says the fully automatic HTRAC system monitors 50 vehicle inputs over 100 times per second to calculate the torque needed for each wheel. If it detects slippage, power is rerouted between the front and rear axles and applies subtle braking pressure to the left and right wheels to help maintain traction.

The 19-inch front tire and wheel

Both Tucson PHEV models have 19-inch aero wheels.

Tucson PHEV Interior Function

Hyundai’s design treatment of the Tucson PHEV Limited has an almost elegant dual-cockpit influence. Slim, dual metallic lines, separated by a band of piano black, span the dashboard and carry into the upper door panels. Just below is a swath of fabric that adds another dimension of up-class detail. It is a level of refinement with precise fit that your friends will notice.

A diffusing mode to the ventilation system wafts air flow and reduces the direct blast to the face and hands on the steering wheel. Unfortunately, the fan is very noisy.

It takes just a finger’s reach from the center armrest to make adjustments on the 10-inch touchscreen. The shift console integrates a wireless charging pad with USB charging and data ports and a 12-volt, 180-watt household plug.

There also is a slip space of storage along the sides of the shift console and a deep center storage box.

Sliding visors have large and lighted mirrors. The glove box is large but not lockable. And the panoramic sunroof is the speediest to open and close of any I’ve tested.

Seat comfort is supportive without aggressive side or cushion bolstering. The Limited has an eight-way power driver’s seat — including seat-bottom tilt — and a six-way power front passenger seat. The seats are heated and ventilated, and there’s a heated steering wheel.

Driver sightlines are accommodating at the side mirrors, across the hood, and over the shoulder. Headroom of 38.1 inches, with the panoramic sunroof, will accommodate most taller drivers. (Tucsons without the pano roof have taller headroom of 41.1 inches.)

Except for the noisy fan, the cabin is luxury-class and traffic calmed.

The roomy back seat area

The Tucson has one of the more comfortable back seats of a compact SUV.

Tucson Back Seat and Cargo Space

The Hyundai Tucson has one of the more comfortable back-seat areas of a compact SUV. And the panoramic sunroof creates an inviting space to watch the sky roll by. However, the sunshade cannot be fully opened without also opening the sunroof.

Back seat occupants have a long 39.5 inches of legroom and good footroom even when the front seats are in a low position. A low transmission hump aids three-across footroom, and there are several inches of recline to the seatback, with a 60/40 split.

The doors open to nearly 90 degrees for simplified adult entry and exit. And shoulder room of 56 inches (door to door) is also adult class. Amenities (on the Limited) include two-stage heated window seats, a nicely padded fold-down center armrest with can holders, plus bottle storage in the doors.

The open cargo area with seats folded

Fold the seatback for 5.5 to 6 feet in length. (Mark Maynard)

Cargo space in the Hyundai Tucson plug-in is slightly less than in the non-PHEV Tucson because of the underfloor battery placement. Consequently, the cargo entry opening is 29.5 inches. The cargo opening is wide at 43 inches by 38 inches to the back seat. Fold the seatback for 5.5 to 6 feet in length.

There is subfloor storage for the flat tire inflator kit (there is no spare) and a section for the coiled charging cable. Other extras include left and right seatback releases and a 12-volt, 180-watt plug.

A roller cover is not included, even on the Limited, but is available for $190. Floor mats are extra, too, adding $195 for both rows.

A Tucson PHEV plugged in to charge

Using a home Level 2 240-volt charger, the battery pack can be fully charged in less than two hours.

Why Buy the Hyundai Tucson PHEV?

None of the currently available mainstream plug-in hybrid SUVs is as luxuriously appointed as the Tucson Limited PHEV.

The frugal buyer might prefer a few more miles of electric driving, but it seems irrelevant if you drive less than 30 miles a day and have a home charger. Your Tucson plug-in will always be topped off in the morning after charging overnight at the lowest rates.

But do not expect to negotiate a selling price. Vehicles are in tight supply and most dealers are tacking on a premium, sometimes as much as $3,000. And if not a price overage, the dealer is adding an upsell package, such as an alarm system and paint protection, for a flat $1,000.

If the Hyundai Tucson plug-in you want is not at the dealership, just wait. Hyundai will make more.

Underfloor storage in the cargo area

The Tucson cargo area has subfloor storage for the flat tire inflator kit, wth a section for the coiled charging cable. (Mark Maynard)

Hyundai Tucson Limited PHEV Specifications

Body style: compact, 5-seat, 5-door unibody SUV crossover with AWD; primary body materials of advanced high strength steels and high tensile steel

Engine: 180-hp, 1.6-liter turbocharged and direct-injection 4-cylinder; 195 lb.-ft. torque from 1,500-4,500 rpm

Motor: 66.9kW (90 hp) permanent magnet synchronous with 224 lb.-ft. torque

Battery type: 13.8kWh lithium-Ion polymer

Battery output: 88kW

Total system output: 261 hp and 258 lb.-ft. torque

On-board charger: 7.2kW; 2-hour charge time on Level 2, 240-volt charger

Transmission: 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters

Fuel economy: 35 mpg combined city/hwy; 80 MPGe

Electric driving range: 32 miles; 420 miles total range, gas with battery

BY THE NUMBERS

Fuel tank: 11.1 gallons

Cargo space: 31.9-66.3 cubic feet

Front head/leg room: 38.1*/41.1 inches *40.1 inches without panoramic sunroof

Rear head/leg room: 38.7/39.5 inches

Shoulder room, front/rear: 57.6/56 inches

Length/wheelbase: 182.3/108.5 inches

Curb weight: 4,235 pounds (Limited model)

Turning circle: 38.6 feet

Tow capacity: 2,000 pounds for trailers with brakes; 1,650 lbs. without trailer brakes

FEATURES

Standard equipment includes: smart-key locking and push-button ignition, rearview monitor with guidance lines, 8-way power driver’s seat with seat-bottom tilt, power passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, Bose audio system, satellite radio with a 3-month subscription, heated rear seats, heated side mirrors with turn signals, leather-trimmed upholstery with driver’s memory presets, leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, electric parking brake, panoramic sunroof, 60/40 split-folding back seat with recline, dual front and rear charging USB ports and 2 12-volt (180-watt) outlets

Electronic convenience features: smart cruise control with stop-and-go, Hyundai digital key, surround-view monitor and blind-view monitor, 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, 10.25-inch navigation screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless device charging, remote smart park assist, Blue Link connected services for 3-years, Blue Link remote start for 3-year subscription

Exterior features: 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED taillights and headlights with high-beam assist, body-color rear spoiler with LED brake light, LED running lights, premium grille finish

Safety features include: 6 air bags, forward collision avoidance assist, lane-keeping and lane-following assists, blind spot collision avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, downhill brake control, hill-start assist, brake assist, stability, and traction controls

PRICING

Base price: $43,945, including $1,245 freight charge; price as tested $44,540

Options on test vehicle: Carpeted floor mats $195; metallic Deep Sea (blue) paint $400

Where assembled: Ulsan, Korea

WARRANTIES

  • Powertrain, 10-years/100,000-miles
  • Hybrid system components, 10-years/100,000-miles ;
  • Hybrid electric battery, 10-years/100,000-miles ;
  • New vehicle limited warranty, 5-years/60,000-miles
  • Free scheduled maintenance for 3-years/36-000 miles for oil changes and tire rotations;
  • Anti-perforation warranty, 7-years