Tech-knowledgeable Tucson Hybrid is a low profile, high spark compact SUV
Table of Contents
Ride and Handling
Driver Assist Features
Back Seats and Cargo
Why buy the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid?
Hyundai has found the sweet spot for size and versatility in its redesigned and re-engineered 2022 Tucson compact SUV crossover. The two-row SUV is now more of a super-compact in size with enough elbow and head room for growing teenagers.
The upper-trim models are stitched with such fine materials that the visual impression reminds of Lexus or Audi. The cabin soundproofing, with some acoustic glass, is luxury-class quiet. And the seats are some of the most comfortable in this mainstream segment.
Now in its fourth generation, Tucson is Hyundai’s best-selling model globally. The U.S. model is the long-wheelbase version of the global platform.
The 2022 Hyundai Tucson is longer, wider, taller, and has a longer wheelbase than the previous generation. The new model is 6.1 inches longer (182.3 inches) and a half-inch wider and taller.
The added length greatly benefited back-seat legroom, now at a leggy 41.3 inches. And cargo space increased by 7.7 cubic feet for more functional space behind the second row.
The new more rigid, high-strength steel architecture improves handling response and crash protection, Hyundai says.
As a prime moneymaker, Hyundai has groomed the 2022 Tucson to be an SUV for all. It is sold in front or all-wheel-drive trim levels with a choice of gasoline, hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrains.
Gas-engine models have a 187-horsepower, 2.5-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine that is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Starting prices for the 2.5 models range from $26,135 for the entry SE to $35,855 for the top-line Limited. Add $1,500 for HTRAC electronic all-wheel drive. All MSRP pricing includes the $1,185 freight charge from Ulsan, Korea.
There also is a higher-performance N Line model that is built on the 2.5-liter powertrain. It has starting prices of $31,785 for front-drive or $33,285 with AWD.
There are three trim levels of gasoline-electric hybrid models. All have standard all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission. Starting prices range from $30,235 for the entry Blue Hybrid to $38,535 for the top-line Limited.
The midrange SEL Convenience Hybrid pares back on options for a starting price of $32,835.
Today’s Limited Hybrid tester was $38,704 as tested. Its only option was for a set of four carpeted floor mats for $169.
The Tucson Plug-in Hybrid model goes on sale later this summer, but pricing had not been announced at the time of this posting. Check here for updates.
The plug-in Tucson has an impressive all-electric range of around 32 miles and an estimated combined fuel economy of 70 MPGe. The plug-in powertrain has an estimated 261-hp from the 1.6-liter turbocharged and direct-injected engine with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Level-II charging capability is well under two hours to recharge the system using the 7.2kW onboard charger, Hyundai says.
Hyundai has long provided what it calls “America’s Best Warranty.” New this year is the addition of free scheduled maintenance for 3 years or 36,000 miles. The service will be mostly for oil changes and tire rotation. Roadside assistance is provided for 5 years and unlimited mileage.
The basic coverage is for 5 years or 60,000 miles bumper to bumper and the powertrain is covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles.
Hybrid components and the battery are covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles.
A commonly overlooked cost when buying a tech-forward new vehicle is the data plan. The typical data plan to use all those electronic features, such as speed limit posting and smart cruise control, is an additional $30 a month. But Hyundai has three years of free data for the Blue Link Connected Services.
Tucson’s new exterior styling continues with Hyundai’s evolving Sensuous Sportiness design. Tucson embodies what the designers call ‘Parametric Dynamics.’ It is defined as “kinetic, jewel-like surface detailing” — but I am still not clear on what that is. Except that it has a commanding presence and an appealing stance.
I especially liked the tester’s Phantom Black paint that compliments the black plastic fender overriders. The right color for a body shape can really have a positive effect. And sometimes the lighter paint colors and black fender protectors look too utilitarian.
Another clever design is at the top of the rear liftgate. The rear wiper tucks under the tailgate spoiler to help aerodynamics and also to help protect the wiper blade from sun damage.
Tucson Hybrid Standard Equipment
The SE is well equipped as an entry model. Among its interior features are remote keyless locking, rearview monitor with parking guidance, electric parking brake, and six-way adjustable driver seat with height adjustment. The six-speaker audio system with an 8-inch color touch screen includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two charging USB outlets.
Exterior features include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic on-off LED headlights with high beam assist, solar glass (windshield and front windows), and body-color rear spoiler with LED brake light.
The Limited is elevated to a near-luxury treatment. Its features include attractive leather upholstery, panoramic sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, surround-view monitor with guidance lines, and wireless charging.
The Tucson Hybrid has a full safety suite of features and advanced technologies. Among them are Forward Collision Warning with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Following Assist and Lane Keeping Assist, and Leading Vehicle Departure Alert.
I especially valued the LDVA, which alerts the driver to stop texting or spacing out when the vehicle ahead moves forward. The drivers behind might appreciate the feature even more.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave Tucson a TOP SAFETY PICK+ designation for the 2022 model year. Tucson was recognized for its structural crashworthiness, LED headlights, and standard SmartSense crash prevention features.
The gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain is comprised of a 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline engine and a 44.2 kW electric motor with a 1.49 kWh battery pack. The transmission is a six-speed automatic.
Total system power is an estimated 226-hp with 258 foot-pounds of torque.
Between the immediate launch by the motor and the quick uptake from the transmission.
Hyundai says this hybrid powertrain is 30 percent more fuel-efficient than the standard gasoline engine, with 20 percent more torque for effortless daily driving.
Tucson Hybrid models have fuel economy ratings of 38 mpg city, 38 highway and 38 mpg combined with front-wheel drive. All-wheel-drive models are rated for 37/36/37 mpg city/highway/combined, using the recommended 87-octane fuel. The 13.7-gallon tank will allow a cruising range of more than 500 miles.
When driven frugally between 60-80 mph, the hybrid tester returned mileage of 38.8 mpg. When driven aggressively at speeds of 75-80 mph the range was 29.8 to 30.1 mpg.
Gas Tucson models have mileage ratings of 26/33/29 mpg with front drive and 24/29/26 mpg AWD.
The multimode HTRAC AWD is an all-weather system. There are driver-selectable modes for off-road traction but also calibrations for straight-line acceleration, medium- and high-speed cornering and hill starts. The Sport setting sends more torque to the rear wheels for a seat-of-the-pants push.
Tucson’s interior, or the so-called “Interspace,” is smartly designed with a low-profile dashboard. There are no touch screens that rise upward to complicate forward views over the hood. Sightlines over the shoulder are unrestricted and benefit from the tall side and rear glass.
The front headroom with the panoramic sunroof is 38.3 inches, which allowed headspace for a 6-foot-6-inch male. The seats are comfortably supportive without stiff, wedgie-inducing side or bottom bolsters.
Unique in this segment is multi-air ventilation. The temperature-adjusting system provides a sweep of diffused airflow to the front passengers. Crank the fan speed and there is plenty of force with very low noise.
The bigger interior space allows more and functional small-item storage, such as along the sides of the center console.
Other new features include a 10.25-inch full-touch navigation screen. Hyundai notes that it has no hard buttons, but it is not a bad thing to have buttons for audio volume and fan.
The driver faces a 10.25-inch hoodless digital gauge cluster. It is practical because the elements are visible in all light conditions, but I do have concerns when a sensor or two might fail over time.
It also is considerate that there are many lighted buttons and switches, such as for the window lifts on the front door armrests.
Tucson is now one of the more comfortable and quiet compact SUVs on the market. The longer wheelbase benefits highway cruising without any chop or wheel vibration, even on California’s rain-grooved concrete highways. Around town, the ride is traffic-calmed and rewarding.
Tucson hybrid models feature e-handling technology. Hyundai claims the system precisely applies electric motor torque control to improve cornering performance. As the Tucson hybrid turns into a corner, the electric motor system applies incremental braking force to the front wheels. That braking increases the tire contact patch on the road surface for enhanced traction and steering response. Then, as the vehicle exits the corner, the electric motor sends torque to the rear axle to fatten rear tire contact patches for a grip and grin response.
The Limited was equipped with 19-inch Michelin Primacy all-season 235/55 tires. They are so-called “green” tires for reduced friction and they also contribute to a more supple ride.
Braking on all Tucson models is by four-wheel discs. There are ventilated 12.8-inch discs at the front and solid 12-inch discs rear.
I especially value Hyundai’s blind-spot view monitor. Cameras in the side mirrors switch on when using the turn signal. The image gives a clear view of what might be alongside the vehicle. On the right side, it might be a bicyclist. On the left, it could be a motorcyclist.
Hyundai’s SmartSense advanced driver assistance systems provide Level 2 semi-autonomous driving. When activated, the network of radar sensors, ultrasonic sensors, and cameras does a good job of keeping the Tucson centered between the white lines.
But all Level 2 assist systems require two hands on the wheel and driver vigilance. The system sensors can be confused by certain daylight and road conditions, which can trigger a random shutoff and then a restart. I’ve also experienced system shutoff when driving alongside white- or light-colored semitruck trailers.
Even with those few variables, the system provides guardianship in the event of driver distraction.
The back seat space is now quite comfortable with a long 41.3 inches of legroom. There is such a stretch of space that a 6-foot passenger can sit behind a 6-foot driver. Headroom is not compromised at 39.5 inches.
The doors open to nearly 90 degrees, which is an asset for reaching a child seat. A low transmission-exhaust tunnel allows comfortable three-across footroom. The back seats are heated with reclining seatbacks that have fold-and-dive functionality to expand cargo space.
The expanded cargo space has a square load floor and a wide opening of 40 inches. Fold the second row for 6 feet of length. The area also has seatback release handles, underfloor storage, and a 12-volt 180-watt household plug.
The tech-knowledgeable Tucson Limited Hybrid is a low-profile, high spark compact SUV. The tester’s $39,000 price has a high-quality presence that will impress for its layers of refined materials and smart designs.
I’ve been shopping for compact hybrid SUVs, but none has seemed the right fit for me. The roofline of the Toyota Venza is too aerodynamically low and over-the-shoulder sightlines are compromised. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid was my fallback choice, but there is a little too much outdoorsy-SUV in the styling. The gas-electric Ford Escape is too budget-compromised. And while I like the efficiency of the Honda CR-V, it is the safe, mom-and-dad choice and I really don’t want fake wood trim in the cabin.
My 2008 Ford Escape is running well at 126,000 miles and has required little service other than routine maintenance. But if I had to buy a compact SUV this week, the Tucson Hybrid or maybe the Tucson Plug-In Hybrid would be my choice. Here are my likes:
- The performance and stepped transmission (not a CVT).
- The contemporary interior space and expansive cargo capacity.
- The detailed engineering, reasonable turning circle, and unobstructed sightlines throughout.
- And I valued the contemporary interior design, helpful technologies, and ergonomic order to the most-used features.
For $39,000, I’d be living large in a small space.
Body style: compact, 5-seat, 5-door all-wheel-drive SUV crossover
Engine: 180-hp, turbocharged and direct-injected 1.6-liter Inline 4-cylinder; 195 lb.-ft. torque from 1,500-4,500 rpm
Permanent magnet synchronous motor: 44.2 kW (59-hp) from 1,600-2,000 rpm
Total system power: 226-hp; 195 lb.-ft. from 0-1,600 rpm
Battery type: 64 kW lithium-ion polymer, 1.49 kWh capacity and 270-volts maximum
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 37/36/37 mpg city/hwy/combined; 87 octane recommended
Coefficient of drag: 0.33 cd
BY THE NUMBERS
Fuel tank: 13.7 gals.
Cargo space: 38.8-74.5 cu. ft.
Front head/leg room: 38.3*/41.1 in. *40.1 w/o pano roof
Rear head/leg room: 39.5/41.3 in.
Length/wheelbase: 182.3/108.5 in.
Width/height: 73.4/65.6 in.
Curb weight: 3,752 lbs.
Turning circle: 38.6 ft.
Base price: $38,535, including $1,185 freight charge; price as tested $38,704
Options on test vehicle: carpeted floor mats (4) $135
Where assembled: Ulsan, Korea
Warranties: 5-years/60,000-miles bumper to bumper with free scheduled maintenance for 3-years/36,000-miles (oil changes and tire rotation) and roadside assistance for 5 years and unlimited mileage; 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain
Hybrid components and hybrid battery: 10-years/100,000-milesRead more