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Hyundai Tucson Plug-In Hybrid Review

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

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


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


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


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


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


  • 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


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Hyundai IONIQ 5 Review

The 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5 is an elevated experience of what can be expected in an electric vehicle

The 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5 battery-electric SUV crossover is sold in rear- or all-wheel drive powertrains with driving ranges of 303 to 256 miles. Available incentives and rebates can total $10,250. (Photos courtesy of Hyundai)

Table of Contents

Next Level Design
10 IONIQ 5 Innovations
Incentives and Rebates
Charging Times
Driver Assistance Systems
Ride and Handling
IONIQ 5 Interior Function
Back Seats and Cargo
Hyundai IONIQ 5 Awards
Why Buy the Hyundai IONIQ 5?


The new Hyundai IONIQ 5 is almost iconic in how well it does everything. It’s not just a well-engineered electric vehicle, it is a well-designed car for family or executives.

The IONIQ 5 is Hyundai’s first dedicated electric vehicle and built on the Hyundai Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). It and other electrified vehicles to follow will be marketed under the IONIQ subbrand. The upcoming battery-electric lineup will include the IONIQ 6 midsize sedan and IONIQ 7 large SUV.

At 118.1 inches, the IONIQ 5 has the longest wheelbase in Hyundai’s U.S. product lineup. It is almost 4 inches longer than the Hyundai Palisade large-midsize SUV, but the IONIQ’s overall length is nearly 14 inches shorter.

And Hyundai says the IONIQ 5 has more passenger volume (106.5 cubic feet) than the Ford Mustang Mach-E (101.1 cu. ft.) and the Volkswagen ID.4 (99.9 cu. ft.).

Sales currently are in the zero-emissions vehicle states of the Northeast plus Texas, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Virginia, and Washington state. There will be a broader rollout later in 2022, Hyundai says.

Front seat area of the IONIQ5

The driver area is digitally sophisticated but easy to use.

Next Level Design

The IONIQ 5 exterior design is next level as a contemporary EV. Crafting a cohesive exterior appearance is a challenge when the electric powertrain is configured in a so-called “skateboard” layout. The battery-electric elements form a low and flat foundation. But the design challenge has been to build a body that doesn’t look like it is grafted onto the skateboard foundation.

Because that foundation raises the ride height of the vehicle, designers have adopted an SUV format. Adding SUV features to the body is one way to disguise the awkward foundation.

For the majority of mainstream EVs, exterior styling is a ground-up exercise. But the Hyundai designers appear to have created a top-down style for its IONIQ 5. From the outside, it looks more cosmic space shuttle than bulky SUV. And if there is such a thing as an open floor plan for a vehicle, the IONIQ 5 has it. The flat floor, spacious front-seat area, and long roofline create a light and inviting space.

Dual 12-inch digital screens in the IONIQ 5

Dual 12-inch screens with white backgrounds add to the lightness of the cabin. To the far left is the magnetic note board.

10 IONIQ 5 Innovations

Flush Mounted Automatic Door Handles. As an owner with the key nears the IONIQ 5, the door handles pivot outward. The design is for clean surface styling and enhanced aerodynamics. But the lever-type handle gives more leverage on opening and eliminates the fingernail scratches in the paint from a traditionally styled pull handle.

Sliding Center Console. The so-called Universal Island moveable center console can slide back and forth 5.5 inches.

Magnetic Note Board, for photos or a shopping list.

Power Reclining Driver’s Seat with Footrest. So thoughtful when killing time at a public charging station.

Fast Charging. IONIQ 5’s E-GMP architecture can support 400-volt and 800-volt fast-charging. The platform offers 800-V charging capability as standard, and it can accommodate 400-V charging without additional adapters. Hyundai says the multi-charging system is a world first.

Ownership by Subscription. A planned subscription service will feature a single, all-inclusive monthly payment, covering the vehicle, insurance, and maintenance.

Over-the-Air Updates. IONIQ 5 is the first Hyundai vehicle to offer free over-the-air wireless updates for maps and multimedia software.

V2L charging ability

The Vehicle-to-Load function creates a power source on wheels.

Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) Function. As a high-capacity electric source, the IONIQ 5 is part survival tool and charger on wheels. V2L allows charging of electric devices, such as electric bicycles, scooters, or camping equipment. Or it can be used to charge a stranded EV.

The 1.9 kW of peak power is tapped through a standard 120-volt outlet. The function won’t power an entire home, but it can power necessities during a power outage, tailgate parties, or outdoor projects.

Using the V2L function requires an optional accessory adaptor ($220) that plugs into the outside charging port. The Limited model also has an interior V2L outlet at the base of the back row seat for charging laptops, phones, and other devices.

Augmented Reality Head-Up Display. The IONIQ 5 head-up display uses an Augmented Reality mode, which essentially turns the windshield into a display screen. The projection appears to be nearly 4 feet in front of the driver’s line of sight and can include various information, such as turn-by-turn navigation, posted speed limits, and advanced safety alerts.

Free Fast Charging for 2 Years. Hyundai and Electrify America collaborated to provide 250 kWh of free DC fast charging for new owners of the IONIQ 5 or Hyundai Kona EV. Charging via app will be offered in unlimited 30-minute charging sessions for two years from the date of purchase.

Electrify America

Electrify America has about 800 charging stations with more than 3,500 ultra-fast chargers either open or in development, Hyundai says. See Electrify America’s plan for the “Charging Station of the Future, Today.”

The movable center console

The Universal Island center console can slide back and forth 5.5 inches.

Suggested Retail Pricing

The IONIQ 5 is sold in three trim levels in rear- or dual-motor all-wheel drive with a lithium-ion polymer battery pack. Starting prices include the $1,245 freight charge from Ulsan, Korea.

Rear-drive models have a 168 kW, 225-hp motor with 258 foot-pounds of torque and battery capacity of 77.4 kWh for a driving range of 303 miles. AWD trims package a 74 kW front motor and a 165 kW rear motor for 320-hp with 446 ft.-lbs. of torque.

The Limited AWD tester was $55,940 with one option for carpeted floor mats, $195.

IONIQ 5 SE RWD starts at $44,895;

IONIQ 5 SEL RWD: $47,145;

IONIQ 5 Limited RWD: $51,845;

IONIQ 5 SE AWD: $48,395;

IONIQ 5 SEL AWD: $50,645;

IONIQ 5 Limited AWD: $55,745.

Available later this year will be the entry IONIQ 5 SE Standard; offered only in rear-wheel drive. It has a smaller electric motor — 125 kW, 168-hp — and smaller battery capacity (58 kWh) with fewer creature comforts but a full complement of safety and driver-assist technologies. It has a starting price of $39,700 and a driving range of 220 miles.

IONIQ 5 electric motor

The top box, above the AWD motor, has about a cubic foot of storage space.

Paint and Interior Colors

There are six paint colors, including five nature-inspired hues exclusive to IONIQ 5. The color choices are Phantom Black (Pearl), Cyber Gray (Metallic), Atlas White (Solid), Digital Teal (Green Pearl), Lucid Blue (Pearl), Shooting Star (Gray Matte).

The Digital Teal is a color-changing metallic paint. In various light conditions, it can look aquamarine, silver, or gray.

The interior has three color options Obsidian Black Monotone, Dark Pebble Gray/Dove Gray, Dark Teal/Dove Gray.

There is a lot of easily digested information in the digital gauge array.

There is a lot of easily digested information in the digital gauge array.

IONIQ 5 Incentives and Rebates

The 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5 qualifies for up to $10,250 in federal and state rebates or incentives.

Federal Electric Vehicle Tax Credit: $7,500. IRS tax forms are here.

California Clean Fuel Reward: $750. Available toward the purchase or lease of a new electric vehicle with a battery capacity greater than 5. The customer must register the vehicle in California and the customer must reside in California.

California Clean Vehicle Rebate: $2,000.  Participants are eligible based on gross annual income, as stated on their federal tax return.

Find federal and state laws or incentives here.

And the IONIQ 5 qualifies for High-Occupancy-Vehicle freeway access, with the green DMV decal .

The Limited includes a V2L plug in the back seat

The Limited includes a V2L plug in the back seat

Ownership by Subscription

To help EV-intenders get comfortable with ownership, Hyundai plans to offer a simple automobile subscription service; it is now in the pilot phase. The subscription will have an all-inclusive monthly payment, covering the vehicle, insurance, and maintenance.

Parametic Pixel LED lighting.

Parametic Pixel LED lighting.

IONIQ 5 Charging Times

Rapid DC 150kW (400V): 25 minutes, estimated, from 10 percent to 80 percent charge

Rapid DC 250kW (800V): 18 minutes, from 10 percent to 80 percent

Level 2 240-volt home unit: 6 hours, 43 minutes

Hyundai Bluelink

Bluelink is a car-connectivity system on all new Hyundai models that gives drivers remote access to their vehicles. The Bluelink app for IONIQ vehicles has redesigned home-screen displays for driving range, battery state, and charging times when plugged into public or private chargers.

Users can access an advanced battery management system to select charging times, particularly for off-peak electricity rates.

Remote Climate Control allows scheduled pre-heating or pre-cooling when the IONIQ 5 is connected to a power source. It helps save battery power that would otherwise be needed to heat or cool the vehicle on the road.

The map section of the app has also been redesigned to let customers filter between charger providers and charge type. It also will show the availability of a charger when the driver arrives.

IONIQ 5 front seats

Eight-way power-adjustable seats for driver and passenger.

IONIQ 5 AWD Performance

The dual motors of the IONIQ 5 Limited AWD provide smooth uptake from the start and give strong acceleration when needed. There are performance modes of Eco, Normal, and Sport. And when you try a full-on launch in Sport mode, the digital gauge array turns red and the force of acceleration is bristling. Hyundai cites 0-60 acceleration in less than 5 seconds.

All models have a top speed of 115 mph and can tow up to 1,650 pounds.

The i-Pedal regeneration system helps recupe de-acceleration energy simply by lifting off of the accelerator. It is especially handy around town. With careful driving, the i-Pedal function can almost take the place of slow-speed, stop-and-go braking. The force of the regeneration can be adjusted with the steering wheel paddles.

IONIQ 5 Ride and Handling

Electric SUVs are heavier than internal-combustion vehicles, mainly because of the large battery pack needed to achieve 300 miles. The IONIQ 5 Limited AWD weighs 4,662 pounds. By comparison, the seven-passenger Palisade with all-wheel drive at 4,387 pounds. The Tesla Model X SUV weighs around 5,441 pounds. And the VW ID.4 weighs 4,824 pounds.

Hyundai achieved a lower weight without extensive use of aluminum in the body. Instead, the body is comprised of advanced high-strength steel and high tensile steel.

The Limited’s 20-inch aero-optimized wheels.

Aero-optimized wheels in sizes of 19 or 20 inches.


The engineering challenge in hefting upward of 3 tons in a smallish vehicle is to provide a comfortable ride. It is common for an EV suspension to clunk and jolt over rough patches.

Hyundai engineers applied some secret sauce in its steel-spring suspension that mitigates the clunks and jolts. The setup of MacPherson struts at the front and a rear multilink includes high-performance shock absorbers.

Credit the long wheelbase for the smooth highway ride. Only a couple of times over very lumpy highway section did I notice any heave to the ride, but never a clunk. And that is without any electronics to quicken the suspension response time.

Brakes, Tires, and Wheels

Four-wheel-disc brakes have ventilated 12.8-inch front rotors and 12.8-inch solid rear rotors. The regenerative braking system includes brake control paddles at the steering wheel to maximize downhill regeneration.

With careful driving and attention to regen braking, the driving range can be extended by a few miles.

Highway road and wind noise are well controlled, aided by the 20-inch Michelin Primacy Touring “Acoustic” touring tires (255/45). For this tire, Michelin’s noise-reduction tuning combines frequency canceling shoulder grooves and block chamfers with ultra-smooth belts. I’d never before experienced these “acoustic” tires but highly recommend them. With a midrange treadwear rating of 540 (rubber hardness), the tires have a warranty of 55,000 miles and a standard limited warranty of 6 years. That coverage is important because the hefty EV curb weights tend to wear out tires sooner than expected, owners say.

The large 20-inch alloy wheels are aero-optimized for reduced turbulence. The wheels are also positioned at the very edge of the body to help block wind from entering the wheel well. And special aero-optimized fender overriders also help break up airflow and reduce drag.

There are many aerodynamic details to the IONIQ 5 body, such as the slash marks along the fender overriders.

There are many small aerodynamic elements on the body to trim drag, such as these slash marks on the fender overriders.

Driver-Assist Systems

The IONIQ 5 debuts Highway Driving Assist 2 as the next level of Hyundai’s SmartSense driver assistance systems. When driving on a highway, HDA 2 actively responds to close-range low-speed cut-ins by other drivers and motorcycles. The system also will automatically assist lane changes in certain conditions when the driver uses the turn signal. HDA 2 also adjusts the steering weight according to drive mode.

In my experience, the driver-assist systems functioned reliably and kept the IONIQ 5 well centered in the lane. That precision is reassuring in heavy commuting. I experienced no random system shut-offs, which can be caused by shadows, bright sunlight directly into the forward camera, and even white semi-trucks with white trailers. Because these systems are not foolproof, it is best to drive with both hands on the wheel, despite what some Tesla owners seem to believe.

Other driving-assistance systems include:

Smart Cruise Control with Machine Learning. The system tries to mimic the driver’s tendencies for acceleration and spacing with the vehicle ahead;

Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist;

Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist;

Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, to match the posted speed;

Blind-Spot View Monitor, uses side mirror-mounted cameras to show the driver views to the left and the right of the vehicle. The image is displayed in the digital gauge cluster screen when the turn signal is activated.

The gear selector is located behind the steering wheel.

The gear selector is located behind the steering wheel.

Interior Function

EV interior design is evolving and each manufacturer finds new ways to innovate and use space.

Slip behind the wheel of the IONIQ 5 and the dual 12-inch digital screens with white backgrounds are different, even alien. But after some exploration, the screens become completely functional and easy on the eyes.

The contiguous 2-foot span of screens connects gauges and infotainment with cabin controls. But at driver’s left is a magnetic board that extends the contiguous span to about 30 inches. Hyundai says the magnetic surface, about 5-by-5 inches, is ideal for posting pictures and notes just like on a refrigerator.

Many interior touchpoints in the IONIQ 5 — seats, headliner, door trim, floor, and armrest — are of sustainably sourced materials. These materials include recycled PET bottles, plant-based (bio PET) yarns and natural wool yarns and bio paint with plant extracts.

The raised ride height provides comfortable entry and exit. And the open interior of the IONIQ 5 has wide open driver visibility, across the hood or over the shoulder. Front headroom of 39.1 inches, with the panoramic roof, and legroom of 41.7 inches should accommodate taller drivers.

Both front seats in the Limited are eight-way power-adjustable and seat support is comfortable for the entire driving range. The leatherette upholstery with perforated centers is supple and neatly stitched.

Cabin audio and climate controls are not difficult to master through the infotainment screen, but I wished for external screen access for the heated seats or the Limited’s heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats. A rear wiper and washer are missing, but Hyundai says it will address that feature in the future.

The interior’s most notable feature might be the moveable Universal Island center console; it can slide back and forth 5.5 inches. The armrest of the sliding console also helps accommodate elbows of short and tall drivers. The open console also packages cup holders, a 15-watt wireless phone charger, and USB ports. The base of the console is big enough to hold a large handbag or a drive-through bag of food.

The console’s adjustability, flat floor, and gear selector located behind the steering wheel allow easier driver access if shoehorned into a narrow spot. Or just use the automated Remote Smart Parking Assist parking feature to solve the problem.

Also smart are the long door-side armrests that allow varied leverage points for closing the door. And just as important, the long grip helps control the force of opening the door and avoiding a ding in an adjacent vehicle.

The Surround View Monitor uses an array of cameras to give a 360-degree view of the area surrounding the vehicle. With guidance lines, it is helpful when parking to stay in the lines.

Back seat space is comfortable with 39.4 inches of legroom and adult-length thigh support.

The back seat has adult-length thigh support and max legroom of 39.4 inches.

Back Seat and Cargo Space

Back-seat roominess is a standout in the IONIQ 5. The door opening is large, the doors open wide, and there are 39.4 inches of max legroom (depending on who is sitting in front).

The second-row seats can slide forward up to 5.3 inches, recline, and have a 60/40 seatback fold.

The Limited’s panoramic glass roof is an extra-large sky view that makes the space feel very open. The fabric sunshade is divided in the middle and one half rolls open toward the front and the other rolls backward for full daydreaming capability. The light provided by the glass roof is helpful to those sensitive to motion or who are claustrophobic, particularly children and my girlfriend. And vertical b-pillar vents keep a friendly flow of air to trim that occasional urpy feeling.

With 57.7 inches of shoulder room (door to door) and the flat floor, three-across seating is reasonably comfortable. The bench seat has adult-class thigh support and there are a few inches of seatback recline.

Back-seat extras include a fold-down armrest with can holders, large door-panel storage with bottle slots, above-door grab handles (with a jacket hook on the left handle), two USB charging ports. And the Limited adds manual side-glass sunshades.

Cargo space is flexible and accommodating for weekend getaways. But the space is modestly cropped by the tall cargo floor and angle of the back glass and tailgate. The opening is 41 inches wide by 38 inches to the seatback for 27.2 cubic feet of space. Fold the 60/40 seatback for 6 feet of flat capacity. There also is slim subfloor storage for the tire-mobility kit and charging cable.

Fold the 60/40 seatback for 6 feet of flat cargo capacity.

Fold the 60/40 seatback for 6 feet of cargo length.

Hyundai IONIQ 5 Awards

The Hyundai IONIQ 5 was revealed globally on Feb. 23, 2021, and since its debut has earned many 2022 car-of-the-year awards. Among them:

  • New Zealand Car of The Year;
  • German Car Of The Year;
  • Best Import Cars of the Year, by Auto Bild, in the “Electric Car” category;
  • No.1 Electric Car by Auto Zeitung, receiving the highest score among electric cars;
  • Car of the Year 2021, Mid-size Company Car of the Year 2021; and Premium Electric Car of the Year 2021, by Auto Express;
  • 2021 IDEA Design Award’ Gold prize;
  • Best Design at the TopGear Electric Awards 2021.

Source: Wikipedia

Why Buy the Hyundai IONIQ 5?

Despite more than two dozen electric vehicles headed to market in the next two years, EVs are still in their pioneering stages of development.

For its ease of use, voluminous interior, and driving range, the IONIQ 5 is an elevated experience of what can be expected in an EV, and what more evolution will follow — by Hyundai and others.

The transition to a battery-electric vehicle will be an expensive lifestyle adjustment, including the purchase of a home charger. But the security of always having a full tank when you leave home will pay dividends as owners wave bye-bye to weekly visits to the neighborhood filling station.

The biggest obstacle to overcome will be explaining to friends why you choose not to drive around on 15 gallons of flammable liquid.

The rear view of the IONIQ 5

Every 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5 (and 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric) includes 250 kWh of free DC fast charging through Electrify America.

Hyundai IONIQ 5 Limited AWD Specifications

Body style: Compact class 5-door crossover SUV; unibody construction of advanced high-strength steel and high tensile steel

Motors: Permanent-Magnet Synchronous; 165 kW rear motor, 74 kW front motor for AWD

Battery: 77.4 kWh lithium-ion polymer, 697 volts; 272kW output

Power: 320-hp with 446 ft.-lbs. of torque.

Transmission: Single-speed reduction gear with drive modes of Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Snow); steering-wheel-button selectable

Top speed: 115 mph

0-60 mph acceleration: less than 5 seconds in Sport mode

Driving range: 256 miles, AWD

MPGe: 110/87/98 mpg city/hwy/combined


Rapid DC 150kW (400V): 25 minutes, estimated, from 10 percent to 80 percent charge

Rapid DC 250kW (800V): 18 minutes, from 10 percent to 80 percent

Level 2 240-volt: 6 hours, 43 minutes

Onboard charger: 10.9kW


Coefficient of Drag: 0.288

Cargo space: 27.2-59.3 cubic feet

Front head/leg room: 39.1*/41.7 inches *w/sunroof

Rear head/leg room: 37.5/39.4 inches

Length/wheelbase: 182.5/118.1 in.

Height/width: 63/74.4 inches

Curb weight: 4,662 pounds

Turning circle: 39.3 ft.

Maximum trailer weight: 1,650 pounds, with or without trailer brakes (towing not recommended for Standard Range RWD model)


Standard Limited equipment includes: Surround View Monitor, Driver Seat with “Relaxation” function, Blind-Spot View Monitor, premium door sill plates, reverse sliding center console, rear-door sunshades, panoramic fixed glass sunroof with power shade, Vehicle to Load (V2L) two-way onboard charger (2nd row), heads-up display with augmented reality functions, roller cargo cover, integrated memory system for driver seat, Digital Key, 8-way power front seats (heated and ventilated), remote smart parking assist, Bose Premium 8-speaker Audio, electric parking brake, 20-inch alloy wheels, battery heater, and heat pump

Safety features include: 6 air bags, blind-spot collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist and lane-following assist, rear cross-traffic-collision avoidance assist, high-beam assist, front and rear parking sensors, parking collision avoidance assist, hill-start assist, 4-channel ABS with brake-force distribution, brake assist and regen brake control paddles


Limited AWD base price: $55,745, including $1,245 freight charge; price as tested $55,940

Options on test vehicle: carpeted floor mats $195

Where assembled: Ulsan, South Korea

Warranties: 10-years/100,000-miles electric-vehicle system; 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain limited warranty; 5-years/60,000-miles new vehicle limited warranty and 7-year anti-perforation warranty; free scheduled maintenance for 3-years/36-000 miles

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Hyundai Santa Cruz Review

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a cool-casual pickup and a thought-provoking reinterpretation of an American icon

A Sage Green Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is based on a longer and wider version of the compact-class Tucson SUV crossover. (Photos courtesy of Hyundai)

Table of Contents

The 4-Foot Bed
Interior Function
Back Seat
Fuel Economy
Ride and Handling
Why Buy the Hyundai Santa Cruz?


The Hyundai Santa Cruz is a cool-casual kind of pickup. Hyundai’s first pickup is a thought-provoking reinterpretation of an American icon. In tribute to Hyundai’s California-based design team, the Santa Cruz tail lights are embossed with: “Designed in California.”

The Santa Cruz is too lightweight to box with the big boys and to help avoid tired associations Hyundai considers the Santa Cruz a “Sport Adventure Vehicle.” It is similar to how BMW relabels its X5 SUV a “Sport Activity Vehicle.” Both makes are attempting to avoid a reference to just mere functional utility. But it is what it is, and the Hyundai Santa Cruz is quite well conceived for a pickup with a 4-foot bed.

There were similar vehicles in the past, even as far back as the mid-1930s. More recent examples are the Subaru Brat and Ford Sport Trac. The 1937 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Coupe Pickup, also known as the Foreman’s Pickup, wasn’t particularly stylish, but it was a hybrid choice for light-duty pickup work. And the bed could be removed and a trunk lid attached.

Santa Cruz Limited front seat area

Upgrades on the Limited include leather-trimmed upholstery and a 10.25-inch wide navigation display.

Hyundai Santa Cruz Overview

The Santa Cruz is based on a longer and wider version of the new Tucson SUV crossover. It has a unibody (carlike) chassis rather than a ladder frame used by heavier-duty pickup trucks. It has standard front-wheel drive and optional HTRAC on-demand all-wheel drive. Up to 50 percent of the drive power can be sent to the rear wheels by the lockable, clutched center differential.

Standard rear self-leveling shock absorbers keep the truck level when weight is in the bed or when pulling a trailer. Towing capacity is up to 5,000 pounds for trailers with brakes.

Santa Cruz has two powertrain choices: the standard 191-hp, 2.5-liter direct-injection four-cylinder with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Or a turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter with 281-hp and 311 foot-pounds of torque from 1,700-4,000 rpm. This engine uses an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic with paddle shifters.

The SE and SEL are available in front- or all-wheel drive. The Limited has standard HTRAC AWD, and a two-wheel-drive version will be added later in 2022.

Standard safety features and technologies are extensive and include: six air bags with rollover sensors, Forward Collision Avoidance-Assist with Pedestrian Detection, driver attention warning, lane-keeping and lane-follow assists, and automatic high beam assist.

Hyundai Santa Cruz front seats

Front headroom is tall at about 39.2 inches with the moonroof.

The 4-Foot Bed

The Santa Cruz is somewhat like two-thirds of an SUV with a 4-foot bed. And like many veteran pickup drivers will point out, a 4-foot bed is nearly useless. Until you start using this one, then this multifunctional, molded composite concept comes into focus.

Hyundai cherry-picked some successful pickup innovations and added its own to build an overachiever. Taking bullshit perception by the horns, here’s how features Hyundai applied to help the Santa Cruz:

  • Lockable roll-top tonneau cover;
  • In-bed “trunk” (ala Honda Ridgeline);
  • 115-volt AC power inverter;
  • Adjustable C-channel cleat rail system;
  • Heavy-duty cargo bed D-Rings and sliding cleats;
  • 2 sidewall bed storage compartments; one houses the 115-volt electric plug;
  • Bumper corner steps;
  • Dual side lights;
  • Rear sliding glass with defroster.
Above and below cargo capacity.

Above and below cargo capacity.

The tonneau locks with the tailgate. And because the roll-top tonneau can be locked in any position, it is possible to angle a surfboard or ladder out of the bed wedged in place by the tonneau and straps. And with the tonneau open, the front wheel of bicycles can be hung over the tailgate and strapped securely. And there is a full bed-length strap to pull the tonneau closed.

There is no cabin pass-through panel to the bed, but extra-long items can be fed through the back slider window. It is a small opening and manually opened and closed.

Hyundai Santa Cruz Pricing

The entry Santa Cruz is sold in SE and SEL trim levels with starting prices of $25,385 and $28,585; add $1,500 for all-wheel drive. Fuel economy ratings for front-drive are 21 mpg city, 26 highway and 23 mpg combined, and 21/27/23 mpg AWD.

Santa Cruz SEL Premium and Santa Cruz Limited get the turbocharged engine with the eight-speed wet, dual-clutch automated manual transmission. Its all-wheel-drive starting prices are $37,075 and $41,115. Fuel economy ratings are 19/21/27 mpg, and both engines run on 87-octane fuel.

All Santa Cruz MSRPs include the $1,245 freight charge from Montgomery, Ala.

Today’s Limited tester was $41,710 with Sage Gray metallic paint ($400) and carpeted floor mats ($195).

Check this link for current pricing and incentives.

The artful interior design.

Artful interior design.

The Pricing Breakout

Every Santa Cruz has a bedful of standard features in true Hyundai style, including self-leveling rear shock absorbers and heavy-duty cargo bed D-Rings.

SE FWD: Rearview camera with parking guidance lines; dual front USB charge ports; rear bumper side step and sidewall bed storage compartments; electric parking brake; sliding sun visors; tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel with audio, cruise and phone controls; removable under-second row storage bin; 18-inch alloy wheels; LED taillights, daytime running lights and center brake light with LED cargo light; stain and odor resistant cloth seating; six-way manual driver seat with manual height adjustment; rear privacy glass; 4.2-inch color multi-information gauge display; body-colored power exterior mirrors; a six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an 8-inch display audio screen; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay infotainment and apps.

The infotainment screen in the Santa Cruz

The 10.25-inch edgeless infotainment screen.

SEL upgrades include: blind spot collision-avoidance assist; side mirrors with turn-signal indicators; rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist; remote engine start (on key fob); eight-way power driver seat with two-way lumbar support; heated side mirrors and heated front seats; proximity key entry with push-button ignition; lighted sun-visor mirrors; Blue Link connected car system; front auto-down and up power windows; and satellite radio.

Limited AWD additions include: dark chrome grille and tailgate handle trim; 20-inch alloy wheels; intelligent cruise control with idle stop/start; Highway Driving Assist; Intelligent Speed Limit Assist; leather-trimmed upholstery; heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats; surround-view monitor; Bose premium audio system; rear air conditioning vents; dual rear USB charge ports; ambient lighting; and 10.25-inch wide navigation display with dynamic voice recognition.

Paint colors: Ice White, Phantom Black, Hampton Gray, Sage Gray ($500), and Blue Stone.

The 10-inch digital gauge cluster Santa Cruz Limited Interior

The interior plastics have a high-quality appearance, from top to bottom. And every panel was joined precisely in the test vehicle. Together, the presentation is refined and rewarding and not the usual for a pickup truck.

A dual-cockpit treatment has an attractive dual-bead line of satin metallic trim separated by a band of piano black. The treatment flows into the doors. Also, a dark sage-colored fabric swath carries along with the trim lines.

While the fan is noisy at higher speeds, the front air vents have a diffuse mode to waft airflow.

A large and deep e-bin includes a wireless charging pad, charging USBs, a data USB, and a 180-watt, 12-volt outlet.

The front headroom is tall at about 39.2 inches with the moonroof.

There isn’t a physical button or switch on the 10.25-inch, edgeless center stack infotainment screen.

The Limited’s digital gauge cluster display also measures 10.25 inches.

Santa Cruz Back Seat

There is plenty of back-seat space for children and teens, but legroom of 36.5 inches is short for adults. The seatback does not recline, but it is at a comfortable angle. The low hump to the transmission tunnel helps with three-across footroom, but the window seats are the most accommodating. Rear air conditioning vents add to the comfort level.

Flip up the seat bottom for some usable bin storage. And other conveniences include two USBs, overhead grab handles, and a hook for a jacket or dry cleaning.

Santa Cruz Limited Performance

The base engine might be power-challenged for towing, with the entry models’ curb weights of 3,700 to 3,879 pounds.

A turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter in the SEL Premium and Limited is eager for responsive driving or towing, even with all-wheel drive. The engine’s 311 foot-pounds of peak torque are steady from 1,700-4,000 rpm. There is good launch force and urgent power for passing or keeping up with the Interstate pack on long uphill grades. Motor Trend clocked 0-60 mph acceleration in 6.3 seconds, which it reports was a tenth quicker than the Honda Ridgeline in its long, figure-eight test loop.

No auto stop-start at idle is needed to help meet government fuel economy or emissions ratings.

HTRAC AWD is an on-demand system. But it includes a locking differential, which is necessary for true four-wheel traction in snow or on the trail.

Four-wheel disc brakes are up to towing with 12.8-inch vented rotors front and solid 12.8-inch rotors rear.

20-inch tire and wheel of the Santa Cruz Limited

20-inch wheels and Michelin Primacy LTX tires, 245/50 on the Limited.

Santa Cruz Limited Fuel Economy

There isn’t much incentive to buy an entry model with the non-turbo engine, except for the price difference. It has fuel economy ratings of 21 mpg city, 26 highway and 23 mpg combined on the recommended 87 octane fuel.

The turbo engine has ratings of 19/27/21 mpg, with all-wheel drive. And the 27 mpg highway rating is not a typo — the AWD Santa Cruz gets 1 mpg better highway mileage than the FWD model.

I was impressed when my highway driving clicked over to 28 mpg, and it kept advancing until I reached my exit at 28.9 mpg. Some reviewers have clocked 30 mpg on the highway. That’s not bad for an all-wheel-drive curb weight of 4,057 pounds. Around town, I recorded a consistent 18 mpg.

The 17.7-gallon tank could provide a cruising range of nearly 500 miles with careful driving.

Ride and Handling

It feels tough and durable but never harsh, even on hard-packed gravel roads. But the body shape kicks up wind noise at highway speeds.

The Santa Cruz does not have a beefy ride height and glaring disposition. Instead, it is a smooth roller, kind and gentle. The smoothness is a hallmark of Hyundai engineering to eliminate friction for improved fuel economy.

Ride quality is quite civilized and controlled from the independent suspension. At the front are MacPherson struts with coil springs and gas-pressurized shock absorbers. The rear multilink has self-leveling gas-pressurized shock absorbers.

A long wheelbase of 118.3 inches helps with a settled highway ride, and the Michelin Primacy light-truck tires (245/50) are also quiet and smooth-rolling.

The Santa Cruz is an easy driver, but the turning circle of 39.6 feet can feel wide in tight parking situations. However, the Limited’s around-view monitor helps the driver keep it centered in the parking slot.

Why Buy the Hyundai Santa Cruz?

The Santa Cruz is a precision piece, from refined engineering and friction-free drivability to artful interior design. The closer you examine the Santa Cruz, the more potential you’ll realize.

The Limited tester was an example of “fully loaded,” but the SEL Premium with the same options would save nearly $4,000. If you can live with 18-inch wheels and fabric upholstery

As $70,000 has become the new $50,000 for full-size pickups, is a $41,000 compact truck considered a good buy? It is, with everything that Hyundai builds into it.

A rear view of the Santa Cruz

Standard rear self-leveling shock absorbers keep the truck level.

 Santa Cruz Limited AWD Specifications

Body style: compact-class four-door unibody pickup constructed of advanced high strength steels and high tensile steel with 4-foot cargo bed made of sheet molded composite

Engine: 281-hp, turbocharged and direct-injected 2.5-liter 4-cylinder; 311 lb.-ft. peak torque from 1,700-4,000 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed wet dual-clutch automated manual with steering-wheel paddle shifters

Maximum trailer weight: 5,000 lbs. AWD; 3,500 FWD w/ trailer brakes; with trailer sway control and auto-leveling rear suspension

Fuel economy: 19/27/22 mpg city/hwy/combined; 87 octane fuel recommended


Fuel tank: 17.1 gallons

Cargo space: 12-33 cubic feet

Front head/leg room: 40.7*/41.4 in. *w/o sunroof

Rear head/leg room: 40.1/36.5 inches

Length/wheelbase: 195.7/118.3 inches

Curb weight: 4,057 lbs.

Turning circle: 39.6 ft.


Limited model standard equipment includes: smart-key locking with push-button ignition, 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, 10.25-inch infotainment screen, surround-view rearview monitor with guidance lines, navigation system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, leather-trimmed upholstery, Bose audio system, 3 years of Blue Link Connected Services and Blue Link remote start, electric parking brake, dual front USB ports, wireless device charging, 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar, heated and ventilated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, rear air vents, 60/40 folding back seat with storage bins below, 115-volt power inverter in the bed

Exterior Limited features: sheet-molded composite 4-foot bed, self-leveling rear suspension, heated side mirrors with turn-signal indicators, HTRAC AWD, 20-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights with high-beam assist, dark chrome tailgate and grille, power sunroof, roof side rails, LED bed lighting, adjustable C-channel cleat rail system, rear sliding glass with defroster, integrated and lockable hard tonneau cover, under bed and sidewall storage compartments, rear bumper corner steps

Safety features include: 6 air bags, forward collision avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist and lane-following assist, blind-spot collision avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, downhill brake control, hill-start assist, driver-attention warning


Base price: $41,115, including the $1,245 freight charge; price as tested $41,540

Options on test vehicle: Sage Gray paint $400; carpeted floor mats $195

Where assembled: Montgomery, Ala.

Warranty: 5-years/60,000-miles basic coverage with roadside assistance; 3-years/36,000-miles free scheduled maintenance; 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain

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Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy Review

The almost-palatial 2021-22 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy SUV is elegantly spacious with luxurious accommodations, smart technologies, and unexpected but appreciated amenities

An exterior view of the 2022 Hyundai Palisade

For family trips or towing, the Palisade is generously sized and powered with a 291-horsepower V-6 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. (Photos courtesy of Hyundai)

Table of Contents

Palisade Updates for 2021
Safety Features
Palisade Performance
Ride and Handling
Interior Function
Back Seats and Cargo
Why Buy the Hyundai Palisade?


The 2021 Hyundai Palisade is a big easy of SUVs. It is friendly to drive with its nimble turning circle of 38.7 feet. Its 291-hp V-6 engine has strong power and mindful fuel economy from the eight-speed automatic transmission. And the pricing will convince skeptics to take a closer look.

The Hyundai Palisade compares with the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, three-row 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent, VW Atlas, and platform partner Kia Telluride.

Hyundai Palisade Overview

The Hyundai Palisade debuted in 2019 as the brand’s new flagship SUV. The nameplate is a reference to the coastal cliffs of the Pacific Palisades neighborhood in Los Angeles.

As the Santa Fe XL replacement, Palisade was built on a new SUV chassis with three rows of seating for seven or eight occupants. The large-midsize SUV crossover has standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive.

Among Hyundai’s five SUV models, the Palisade ranked third for sales in September 2021. With 7,961 sales, the Palisade followed the compact Tucson at 9,896 sales, the midsize Santa Fe at 6,573, the subcompact Venue at 2,877, and the subcompact Kona 5,774.

While some of the SUV sales were down in September, the Venue was up 88 percent over September 2020, and the Palisade was up by 3 percent over September 2020.

The Calligraphy interior

Special Calligraphy features include Nappa leather upholstery, quilted leather door panels, and a microfiber-suede headliner.

Palisade Updates for 2021

The only change for the 2021 model year is the addition of the Calligraphy, the new top-of-the-line trim level.

Other changes for the 2021 Palisade include content repackaging to add comfort and convenience to all trim levels.

LED headlamps are now standard, while sunroof and LED map-interior lights have been added to the SEL model and above.

Palisade trailer pre-wiring connectors were upgraded from a four-pin connector to an enhanced seven-pin connector.

The 2022 Palisade is now on sale with no physical or content changes, but pricing was increased by $475 to $490 across the lineup.

Palisade driver area

The driver area is an accommodating command center with at-a-glance access to all controls.

Hyundai Palisade Pricing

Palisade is sold in four trim levels of SE, SEL, Limited, and Calligraphy. Starting prices range from $33,860 to $47,900 for the Calligraphy AWD; pricing includes the $1,185 freight charge from Ulsan, Korea.

The front-drive Palisade Calligraphy tester was $47,600 with one option for three rows of carpeted floor mats, $215.

Special Calligraphy features include:

  • Quilted-leather door panels
  • Microfiber-suede headliner
  • Premium cargo sill protection plate
  • Perforated-leather steering wheel

A longer list of standard equipment is in the specifications chart at the end of this review.

Find current pricing and inventive offers here.

A dual pane sunroof

The front sunroof tilts and slides and the rear pane is fixed with a shade.

Hyundai Warranties

All Hyundai vehicles have extensive warranty coverage. The basic coverage is for 5 years or 60,000 miles bumper to bumper. The limited powertrain warranty is for 10 years or 100,000 miles.

New this year is free scheduled maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles. The maintenance program includes oil and filter changes and tire rotation.

Hyundai Palisade Safety Features

The 2021 Hyundai Palisade SUV received a 2020 Top Safety Pick-Plus from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In addition, the government’s National Highway Safety Administration awarded the Palisade the top five-star ratings for overall protection, frontal and side crashes, and four stars for rollover.

Palisade’s standard safety features include:

  • 7 air bags,
  • Lane-following assist and lane-keeping assist,
  • Blind-spot collision-avoidance assist,
  • Forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection,
  • Highway Drive Assist, and
  • Rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist.
The 20-inch tires and special wheel design

The Calligraphy has a special wheel design with 20-inch Hankook Ventus S1 Noble 2 all-season tires.

Hyundai Palisade Performance

The 2021 Palisade is sold in front- or all-wheel drive (HTRAC) models. All have a 291-hp 3.8-liter, Atkinson-cycle, direct-injection V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission.

EPA fuel-economy ratings for front-drive models are 19 mpg city, 26 highway and 22 mpg combined or 19/24/21 mpg with HTRAC.

While testing the 4,231-pound Palisade Calligraphy, I drove the majority of the week in Eco mode. I was surprised by the performance because that fuel-saving mode for engine and transmission performance usually has a maddeningly spongy throttle response.

For those who keep an eye on the fuel gauge, the Palisade’s Eco calibration is actually usable for most driving. Immediate launch power is somewhat reserved, as is close-the-gap acceleration on the highway. Still, in between, it worked to convince me I was saving fuel and emissions in a 16.3-foot-long family vehicle.

In the front-drive tester, my driving averaged 17 to 21 mpg around town, and I worked up to 22.5 mpg combined with highway driving. The highway mileage likely would have risen with more time using cruise control at the speed limit.

The Palisade V6 engine

All Palisade trim levels have the 291-hp V-6 and 8-speed automatic.

Ride and Handling

Palisade’s ride quality is comfortable but not soft. It is well-supported with a rigid chassis for vibration-free driving. The cabin is quiet, and the rear auto-leveling suspension nearly eliminates “head toss” at driveways and speed bumps.

The HTRAC all-wheel-drive system has six traction modes for Eco, Sport, Comfort, Snow, Smart (which adapts to your driving style) and AWD lock. Snow mode has more predictive calibrations, Hyundai says, to prevent loss of traction.

The transmission rolls through the gears so smoothly that you might not notice the transitions. Tire sizes are 18 inches standard or 20 inches on the Calligraphy with a unique wheel pattern.

The tester’s 20-inch all-season tires, Hankook Ventus S1 Noble 2, are generously sized (245/50) and roll smoothly and without road harshness.

Four-wheel disc braking is confident with no grab from 13.9-inch ventilated front rotors and rear 12-inch solid rotors.

A rear angle of the SUV

The Calligraphy has rear auto-leveling suspension that nearly eliminates ‘head toss’ at driveways and speed bumps.

Highway Drive Assist

Hyundai’s Highway Drive Assist allows Level 2 semi-autonomous driving. The assist system uses a forward-facing radar unit and camera and GPS technology through the navigation system’s map database.

The suite of driver-assist technologies includes smart cruise control with stop-and-go, lane-following assist and lane-keeping assist, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, and rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist.

The HDA steering calibrations are more refined than some systems I’ve tested. It seems the camera might look farther ahead to make less-jerky steering movements in cornering.

The driver-assist system is intended for use on a divided highway and it will not engage when not traveling on an approved road. The driver must keep both hands on the steering wheel, and Highway Driving Assist is available only at speeds under 95 mph.

In my experience, the system was mostly efficient at keeping the Palisade centered between the lines. Once or twice, however, the system allowed the SUV to drift wide in a sweeping corner and then fired off a sharp warning alert as if I were at fault.

Interior Function

The Calligraphy is a social lounge with a USB port for every seat and 16 cup holders.

Front headroom is tall at 39.3 inches with the dual-pane sunroof. And shoulder room is wide-body at 61.2 inches (and 60.8 inches in the second row.) The step-in height is low with no need for running boards, and the door skins extend below the sill to prevent dirt scuffs on legs and shoes.

The Palisade has USB ports in the seatback

Of the seven USB ports, two are cleverly placed in the seatbacks.

The driver area is an accommodating command center with a multilevel environment of storage areas, including below the center console, with open space for wireless phone charging and a deep armrest box.

There is at-a-glance access to all controls, and the 10.25-inch infotainment screen is not prone to glare in sunlight.

The seats are full-bodied with eight-way power adjustment for the driver and front passenger. Sightlines are no problem, especially with the multiview camera that also gives front and overhead views.

It is a quiet Calligraphy cabin, helped by an acoustic laminated windshield and front side glass.

Unique in this segment is Hyundai’s Blind View Monitors. The side mirrors have rearward-aimed cameras that switch on when using the turn signal. The behind-view video appears in the gauge array, in the corresponding left or right dials. These electronic eyes are instrumental in town when navigating the randomly weaving electric scooters, bikes, and pedestrians.

The roomy back seat area

No compromise to second-row seating with 42.7 inches of legroom.

A Driver Talk in-car intercom system allows communication with the second or third rows via a conversation mode in the audio system. A Rear Sleep Mode also cancels music from being transmitted to the second- and third-row speakers.

Back Seats and Cargo Area

The second row has a maximum of 42.4 inches of legroom, adjustable by the sliding captain’s chairs, which also recline. There is a separate climate control system for heat and AC, fan speed and temp — and heated and cooled seats. The large glass roof panel (with sunshade) is a big-sky treatment. And ceiling air vents help to fend off motion sickness.

The back seats have a one-handed tilt-and-slide action for third-row entry. In addition, the third-row bench has more support than some competitors in this group, and the Palisade seats have a fold-flat power recline.

The cargo area is big-box square with a usable 18 cubic feet of space behind the third row, with functional basement storage. There are switches for the power-folding and raising of the third-row seats and power releases to fold the second row.

The lift-in height is tall at 30 inches, but there is about 7 feet of length with both rows folded. The entry is 48 inches wide by 32 inches tall.

The cargo area in the Palisade

There are 18 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row or fold the second and third rows for about 7 feet of length.

Why Buy the Hyundai Palisade?

The Palisade is a little like moving the family to a new two-story home in a master-planned suburban community. The cabin is roomy with a long list of advanced technologies, premium-quality materials, and many unexpected but appreciated amenities.

Opting for the Calligraphy model provides an elevated luxury experience. And its presentation is without the glare of glitzy technology overload, so common in the Tier 1 luxury segment. It is an enjoyable learning curve to explore Hyundai’s technologies, which is not always so with some luxury brands.

Moving to the three-row suburbs isn’t for every family, but for less than $50,000, a palatial-feeling Palisade is move-in ready.

Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy Specifications

Body style: large-midsize, 3-row 7- to 8-seat SUV in front- or all-wheel drive

Engine: 291-hp, Atkinson cycle, direct-injection 3.8-liter V-6 with idle stop-and-go; 262 lb.-ft. torque at 5,200 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic with HTRAC AWD mode selector

Fuel economy: 19/26/22 mpg city/hwy/combined; 87 octane

Tow capacity: 1,650 lbs. without trailer brakes; 5,000 lbs. with trailer brakes


Fuel tank: 18.8 gallons

Cargo space: 18-45.8 cu. ft.

Front head/leg room: 39.3*/41. in. *w/sunroof

2nd row head/leg room: 38.8*/42.4 in.

3rd row head/leg room: 37.2*/31.4 in.

Length/wheelbase: 196.1/114.2 in.

Width/height: 77.8/68.9 in.

Curb weight: 4,231 lbs.

Turning circle: 38.7 ft.


Standard Calligraphy equipment includes: smart-key locking with push-button ignition, Nappa leather-trimmed upholstery, microsuede headliner, surround-view monitor, electric parking brake, blind-view monitor (turn-signal activated), 7 USBs, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, wireless phone charger, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 10.25-inch infotainment and navigation touch screen with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, Harman Kardon audio system, LED headlights-taillights-running lights, auto-leveling rear suspension, trailering package, dual sunroofs with sunshades, high-beam assist, back seat quiet mode, power-folding third row with power recline, hands-free liftgate

Safety features include: 7 air bags, intelligent cruise control with stop-and-go, lane following assist and lane-keeping assist, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist park-distance warning, forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, highway drive assist, downhill brake control, rear occupant alert, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist


Base price: $47,385, including $1,185 freight charge; price as tested $47,600

Options on test vehicle: carpeted floor mats $160

Where assembled: Ulsan, Korea

Warranties: 5 years/60,000 miles bumper to bumper with roadside assistance; 3-years/36,000-miles free scheduled maintenance (of oil change and tire rotation); 10 years/100,000 miles powertrain

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2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Review

Tech-knowledgeable Tucson Hybrid is a low profile, high spark compact SUV

An exterior view of the redesigned Hyundai Tucson SV

A comprehensive redesign of the 2022 Hyundai Tucson made it longer, wider, and taller. (Photos courtesy of Hyundai)

Table of Contents

Hybrid models
Exterior styling
Safety Features
Hybrid Powertrains
Fuel Economy
Interior Function
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.

The Tucson's interior design is uncluttered and ergonomically arranged

Tucson’s interior, or ‘Interspace’, is uncluttered and contemporary in design.

Hyundai Tucson Overview

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.

The hybrid model has heated and ventilated front seats

The Limited’s leather-trimmed front seats are heated and ventilated.

Tucson Pricing

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.

Hybrid models

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.

Ambient lighting around the center console

The center console has side storage and a bead of ambient LED lighting.

Tucson Plug-In

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 Warranties

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.

The 19-inch tire-and-wheel package for the Tucson Hybrid

19-inch Michelin Primacy all-season 235/55 tires.

 Tucson Exterior Styling

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 back seats

Back seat space is now quite comfortable with a long 41.3 inches of legroom.

Tucson Safety Features

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.

Tucson Hybrid Powertrains

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 Fuel Economy

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.

Looking into the cargo area of the Tucson

Square cargo space has about 6 feet in length with the back seat folded.


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 Interior Function

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 Ride and Handling

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.

Tucson Driver Assist Features

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.

A rear view

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson is now one of the more comfortable and quiet compact SUVs.

Tucson Back Seat and Cargo

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.

Why buy the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid?

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.


2022 Hyundai Tucson Limited Hybrid AWD

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


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-miles

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2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy Review

Stylized Penmanship Promotes Range-Topping Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy SUV to the Luxury Class

A front view of the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy starts at $43,285, including AWD. (Photos courtesy of Hyundai)

Table of Contents

New features
What was redesigned?
Safety features
Ride and handling
Interior function
Back seat and cargo space
Why buy the Santa Fe Calligraphy?



Hyundai has tended well to its midsize Santa Fe SUV moneymaker. This unibody SUV was introduced in 2001 and it would become the top-selling SUV in the brand’s 32-year history in America.

Over its lifecycle, the five-seat Santa Fe has been updated at least every two years. And major redesigns were applied every four years. And for a time, it was offered as a seven-seat Unlimited trim level.

Hyundai says it is aggressive in its updates for all vehicle lines. However, the company puts its updated models on sale sooner than most people update their smartphones.

“For mainstream high-volume priority vehicles, we never let these rest,” a spokesman said.  “The second we put out a vehicle, the engineers are working on the next generation or upcoming adjustments.”

The interior of the Santa Fe Calligraphy

Calligraphy details include Nappa leather and a 10.25-inch touch-screen.

Santa Fe Overview

Today, Hyundai has six SUV models, including electrified choices. The Santa Fe ranks No. 2 in sales, behind the compact Tucson.

The fourth-gen Santa Fe SUV debuted in 2018 and there was yet another significant refresh in 2020 for the 2021 model year.

Hyundai means “modern,” as translated, and the current Santa Fe is thoroughly equipped with advanced technologies for safety and driver assistance. And there appears to have been special care taken to create a calming and intuitive human-machine interface to access all of those electronically sophisticated systems.

While Hyundai has maintained the value choice in the entry models, it also has pushed a more “luxurious character.” The top-line models have more premium materials such as quilted Nappa leather and unique wheel designs.

Ambient lighting along the Calligraphy shift console

LED ambient lighting.

What’s New for 2021

The Hyundai Santa Fe had freshened exterior and interior designs for 2021. The updated added LED front and rear lighting, a new hybrid powertrain with all-wheel drive, and new driver safety and convenience features.

The new range-topping Calligraphy model builds upon the Santa Fe Limited. Its features include the more powerful 2.5-liter turbocharged engine with HTRAC AWD ($1,700) and exclusive-design 20-inch alloy wheels.

The Calligraphy treatment includes quilted Nappa leather, premium door and seat accent trim, eco-suede headliner, ambient lighting themes, and auto up-down rear windows. Power-folding side mirrors have puddle lamps and turn signals. Driver technologies include downhill brake control and a full-color heads-up display.

There will be no changes for the 2022 model year. But a more rugged appearance Santa Fe XRT trim was just added. Pricing starts at $32,300 for front-drive and $34,000f with AWD; pricing does not include the freight charge.

Floating center console in the Santa Fe Calligraphy

The high-position “floating” center console.

What Was Redesigned

The freshened styling has subtle exterior changes. There is a broader, three-dimensional grille and T-shaped LED lighting and daytime running lights.

The silhouette has a more horizontal cabin profile with scalloped lower door panels and a long hood with character lines. Sharp shoulder lines connect front and rear LED lights. Rear reflector accents visually link the LED rear taillights.

The interior was reworked for a more “luxurious character.” The interior space feels more open and with more natural light. In addition, a high-position “floating” center console has stealth lower shelf storage.

A multi-layered, three-dimensional instrument panel and contrasting seat stitching lend a premium presence, Hyundai says.

Santa Fe Pricing

Sold in four trim levels, starting prices for the entry SE and SEL gas-powered models range from $28,185 to $29,985 for the SEL, both with front-drive. Add $1,700 for AWD.

Moving up to the Limited, with the turbocharged engine packaged with AWD, starts at $41,635. And the new top-line Calligraphy with the turbo engine, AWD and 19-inch wheels starts at $43,435. All MSRPs include the $1,185 freight charge from Montgomery, Ala.

Today’s Calligraphy tester was $43,590, including one option for carpeted floor mats, $155.

Look for Hyundai pricing incentives and special programs here.

A door panel in the Santa Fe Calligraphy

Calligraphy details are seen and felt throughout the cabin.

Santa Fe Safety Features

The Santa Fe Calligraphy SUV has the full suite of Hyundai safety technologies. The list will compare with those features offered by top luxury brands.

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 multiple radar sensors, ultrasonic sensors, and cameras do a good job of keeping the Santa Fe 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 that 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 protection in the event of driver distraction.

Standard Safety Features Include:

  • Blind-spot collision-avoidance assist,
  • Rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist,
  • Forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian-cyclist-junction turning detection,
  • Lane-keeping assist, highway driving assist, and lane following assist.
Santa Fe driver seat

There is easy functionality to the driver area.

Santa Fe Powertrains

The 2021 Santa Fe SUV is sold in gasoline and gasoline-electric hybrid models. All in front- or all-wheel-drive.

The gas models of Santa Fe have a choice of two Smartstream 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines, one of which is turbocharged. Both have direct- and multi-point fuel injection, idle stop and go, and eight-speed automatic transmissions. The base engine replaces the former 2.4-liter direct-injected engine.

The uplevel turbocharged engine replaces a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and brings an 18 percent boost in power, now at 281-hp. This engine is paired with the more technologically advanced eight-speed “wet” dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

The 4,017-pound Calligraphy AWD has fuel economy ratings of 21/28/24 mpg city/hwy/combined; 87 octane recommended. In highway driving, I easily hit the 28-32 mpg range and about 27 mpg overall. The 18.8-gallon tank will provide a wide cruising radius.

Hybrid Models

Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid SUV models are sold in three trim levels with starting prices ranging from $34,835 to $41,135. (Hybrid models are built in Ulsan, Korea.)

The gasoline-electric hybrid models have a new Smartstream 226-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged hybrid electric powertrain with six-speed automatic transmission and HTRAC all-wheel drive.

The base Blue fuel economy ratings are 36/31/34 mpg city/highway/combined on 87 octane. The Hybrid SEL Premium and Limited have mileage ratings of 33/30/32.

A Santa Fe plug-in hybrid is expected to be in dealerships later this summer. It has 260-hp and an electric driving range of around 30 miles. Pricing has not yet been announced but watch for updates here.

The Calligraphy back seat

The back-seat legroom is adult class at 41.7 inches.

Santa Fe Ride and Handling

Acceleration from a start can seem hesitant as the turbo spools and the dual-clutch engages, but once rolling, the force is fluid and easily maintained. However, after a week of driving, the new owner will have adapted to the correct amount of pedal pressure to get past the initial hesitance.

The ride quality is very smooth-rolling, a testament to Hyundai engineering to eliminate friction and boost fuel economy. Much attention was given to cabin soundproofing, but the interior noise was more than I expected for a near-luxury vehicle despite the laminated windshield and side glass.

There was noticeable road noise at highway speeds that can be felt from the floor into the seat bottoms. The 19-inch Hankook Dynapro HP2 tires (235/55) might be contributors. These are all-season, low-rolling-resistance touring tires that felt hard, especially on concrete.

Braking is confident without grab from four-wheel discs. The front vented rotors are 13.6 inches and the solid rear rotors are 12 inches. Downhill brake control is included on AWD models.

Interior Function

There is an easy familiarity with just getting in and driving. The Calligraphy interior is handsome with a black microsuede headliner. Even in the tester’s basic black, the varying textures, contrast stitching, and matte-sheen of lower plastics looked more luxurious than basic. And there are no old-school wooden “accents.”

Mastering the swipe, tap, and turn of the touch-screen features does not require advanced training. Most users should be able to figure it out on the fly. The raised and angled center console is functional for knobs and switches that are just a glance away from the road.

There are numerous small-item storage areas, including the deep box in the center armrest console. The large sun visors slide and have large, covered mirrors. The wireless charging pad is cleverly positioned in a vertical slot adjacent to the cup holders. Door storage is generous and includes space for tall bottles. The front passenger has a slim shelf along the instrument panel to lay a phone and it is within reach of a charging USB.

There is a rather tall step-in height (ground clearance grew by about an inch to 8.2 inches) to the front and back seats. The front headroom is tall at 39.5 inches with the panoramic sunroof or 44.1 inches without.

The front seats are full-figured with eight-way power adjustment for the driver that includes lumbar and seat-bottom tilt for ideal positioning. Sightlines are unobstructed across the front fenders and over the shoulder. The 360-view camera gives birds-eye perspective when parking and the 37.5-foot turning circle is more compact than midsize.

Hyundai’s Smart Park Assist is a handy perk. Using the key fob, the Santa Fe driver can park and back out the vehicle from the tightest of spaces from outside the vehicle.

The cargo area in the Santa Fe.

The cargo area has generous space of 36.4 cubic feet behind the second row.

Back Seat and Cargo

The back seat area rides high but also benefits from a low hump to the transmission-exhaust tunnel. The commonly compromised legroom at the center seat should comfortably fit a growing teenager. Legroom is adult class at 41.7 inches, but the raised “theater” seating, with 37.8 inches of headroom, might be a tad short for taller adults.

The area is well equipped with a broad fold-down armrest, nicely padded, with cup holders and bottle storage in the door panels. Overhead grab handles include coat hooks, and there are two charging USBs and a 115-volt, 150-watt household plug.

The cargo area has a generous space of 36.4 cubic feet behind the second row, and there is usable “basement” storage.

The cargo space is wide at 45 inches and deep at 43 inches. But there is a tall lift-up to the floor of 33 inches. Fold the 60/40 back seat for 6 ½ feet in length. The seats fold flat for 5 ¾ feet of sleeping space.

A rear view of the Calligraphy

Hyundai means “modern,” as translated.

Why buy the Santa Fe Calligraphy?

The Santa Fe Calligraphy SUV has luxurious appeal and layers of attention to its design and engineering detail.

Among the Tier 1 luxury competitors, the Calligraphy is a bargain with the longest warranty for long-term ownership.

Santa Fe owners or lessors will have an attractive new choice when it’s time to renew.


2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy

  • Body style: midsize, 5-seat, 5-door AWD unibody SUV
  • Engine: Smartstream 281-hp, turbocharged and direct- and multi-port injection 2.5-liter 4-cylinder; 311 lb.-ft. torque at 3,500 rpm
  • Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch (wet-type) automated manual
  • Fuel economy: 21/28/24 mpg city/hwy/combined; 87 octane recommended

By The Numbers

  • Fuel tank: 18.8 gal.
  • Cargo space: 36.4 cu. ft.
  • Front head/leg room: 39.5*/44.1 in. *41.2 w/o sunroof
  • Rear head/leg room: 37.8*/41.7 in. *39 w/o sunroof
  • Length/wheelbase: 188.4/108.9 in.
  • Curb weight: 4,017 lbs.
  • Turning circle: 37.5 ft.
  • Tow capacity: 3,500 lbs.
  • Coefficient of drag: 0.34


Standard equipment includes: digital key and push-button ignition, panoramic sunroof, 10.25-inch touch-screen navigation with traffic routing, smart cruise control with stop-and-go remote, 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio with Clari-Fi music restoration, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless device charging,  8-way power driver seat with 4-way lumbar, 6-way power front passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, blind-spot view monitor, surround-view camera with overhead and guidance lines, automatic LED headlights with LED accents and high-beam assist, LED running lights, power-folding side mirrors with puddle lights, LED cabin lights, 60/40 folding back seats with recline, heated back seats, power-folding 2nd row, and 7 air bags


Base price: $43,435, including $1,185 freight charge; price as tested $43,590

Options on test vehicle: carpeted floor mats $155

Where assembled: Montgomery, Ala.

Warranty: 5-years/60,000-miles bumper to bumper with 24/7 roadside assistance; 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain

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