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Analysis of the 2022 Hyundai Tucson: The Ideal Five-Seat Small Crossover

The Hyundai Tucson for 2022 aims for the aesthetic and effectiveness goals and successfully achieves them. An extensively restyled five-seat small crossover designed to compete more effectively in the fiercely competitive automotive segment. It goes head-to-head with popular models such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, and Nissan Rogue. The revamped 2022 Tucson hits the market with a strong array of technology features, a spacious and comfy interior, and a wide range of safety amenities.

The Tucson is no longer nondescript, featuring sharp styling that makes it stand out. The bold decisions in both the interior and exterior design pay off handsomely, with the Tucson’s bold grille and sharp side contours attracting significant attention on the road. In a marked departure from the previous iteration’s lackluster aesthetics, the redesigned Tucson embraces a similar angular design language as the recently updated Elantra, adding a visual flair to its appearance. The sides are accentuated with bold creases on both doors, capped by a striking line that flows into the taillights.

At the front, the LED daytime running lights have been seamlessly integrated into the grille, creating a seamless look that conceals them until illuminated. The rear of the Tucson conceals the exhaust tips beneath the rear bumper and features numerous sharp lines of its own, from the downward-pointing taillights to the diamond details in the rear bumper. The hybrid models see minimal changes, except for the inclusion of energy consumption indicators integrated into their digital displays.

The performance and efficiency of the Tucson hybrid surpass those of its non-hybrid counterparts. The Tucson is admired for its performance and commendable driving experience. While gas-powered models are likely to be more popular, their acceleration and fuel efficiency are merely average. However, it’s the driving experience that sets this crossover apart. Front-wheel drive comes standard on all gas models, with the option for all-wheel drive available for an additional $1,500. Conversely, all Tucson hybrids come equipped with AWD as standard.

There’s a noticeable disparity in performance between the Tucson’s two powertrain options, with the hybrid being the more compelling choice. The gas versions are powered by a 187-hp, 2.5-liter inline-4 engine generating 178 lb-ft of torque, paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. In comparison, the hybrid variant’s 1.6-liter turbo-4 gasoline engine delivers similar output on its own (180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque), but with the addition of an electric motor boosting the total system output to 226 hp. Opting for a 6-speed automatic transmission instead of a continuously variable transmission, the hybrid provides a more natural driving feel. All gas models offer optional all-wheel drive, while AWD is standard on the hybrid.

Having driven both models, it’s difficult to recommend the gas-powered version. The electric boost from the motors feels essential when compared to the 2.5-liter engine’s sluggishness in terms of acceleration, whether from a standstill or during passing maneuvers. Additionally, the hybrid features an e-handling system that utilizes the electric motor to enhance handling and give the vehicle a more balanced feel when cornering.

Tucson Hybrids exhibit responsive steering and a comfortable ride, particularly at moderate to high speeds, despite the added weight of the battery pack and larger wheels. However, in urban driving conditions, the suspension may not recover as quickly after encountering bumps, causing some instability on uneven roads. This characteristic is also observed in the Plug-In Hybrid model, which carries a curb weight of up to 4,235 lbs, leading to potential suspension disturbances. Engaging the drivetrain in Sport mode tightens the steering response and facilitates quicker gear shifts, albeit at the expense of efficiency.

Fuel economy sees a significant improvement in the Tucson hybrid variants. Gas models achieve a city/highway/combined rating of 26/33/29 mpg for FWD versions, while AWD models are rated at 24/29/26 mpg. Unquestionably, the hybrid offers the best fuel efficiency, with the Blue trim rated at 38/38/38 mpg and the SEL Convenience and Limited trims at 37/36/37 mpg. This substantial increase in efficiency compared to gas models helps offset the price differential between the vehicles over a shorter period. The plug-in hybrid variant earns an EPA-rated 33 miles of electric range, 80 MPGe, and 35 mpg combined, solidifying its status as the efficiency leader.

The Tucson has garnered top safety ratings and provides an extensive array of safety features. While the NHTSA is yet to conduct crash tests on the Tucson, the IIHS has awarded it a Top Safety Pick+, the industry’s highest safety distinction. Alongside automatic emergency braking, the Tucson features active lane control and rear occupant alerts. The SEL trim introduces blind-spot monitors and adaptive cruise control that operates down to a complete stop. For the Limited models, additional safety equipment includes a surround-view camera system, rear automatic braking, front and rear parking sensors, and blind-spot cameras that provide a live display of the vehicle’s surroundings on the instrument panel.

The Tucson’s cabin exhibits a refined yet tech-focused interior design, with digital displays cascading over the center stack in a technologically driven manner. In contrast to the exterior, the interior aesthetic showcases a radical departure but with a more conservative undertone. There are minimal intricate surfaces inside, with the exception of the twin arches that lower the dashboard and create a sense of separation from the front occupants.

The center console primarily comprises a glossy black panel that accommodates the multimedia screen (8.2 inches as standard, upgraded to a larger 10.3-inch display for the Limited trim). While offering a contemporary look, the glossy surface is prone to smudges. Certain Tucson models opt for a digital gauge cluster and touchscreen for secondary controls.

The redesigned Tucson has expanded in size, resulting in increased cargo space and generous rear legroom. Despite the significant size increase for 2022, the redesigned Tucson retains a compact feel both during parking maneuvers and while on the road, which is quite reassuring. The wheelbase has been lengthened by 3.4 inches to 108.5 inches, with the overall length increasing by 6.1 inches to 182.3 inches, aligning it more closely with competitors such as the RAV4 and CR-V. Cargo capacity has seen a notable boost to 38.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats from 31.0 cubic feet (for gas models), expanding to 74.8 cubic feet with the seats folded down.

The enhanced space is most noticeable in the rear seats and cargo area. The front seats of the Tucson offer good support, with the addition of a thigh seat extension being a welcome feature. While cloth seating is standard, leather upholstery is available as an option on the SEL and standard on the Limited trims. Rear legroom now measures up to 41.3 inches, providing ample space for two adult passengers in the back. Interestingly, hybrid models offer more rear legroom than front legroom. The rear seats boast impressive recline capability for added comfort, and with the optional panoramic sunroof equipped, the rear cabin feels airy and spacious.

The technological and safety features of the Tucson are quite impressive. The Tucson’s value proposition was already strong, and the post-redesign version strengthens it further. An 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto is standard across the lineup, even on the base Tucson SE, serving as a solid benchmark for technology across the Tucson range.

While both the gas and hybrid Limited models offer a wealth of features, they also come with a substantial price premium. The best blend of features and value is found in the SEL trim with the Convenience package, priced at $30,285, which adds upscale amenities like wireless smartphone charging, a power sunroof, a 10.3-inch digital instrument panel, and a power liftgate, among other features.

For those inclined towards the hybrid variant, the SEL Convenience model at $32,835 provides the most enticing proposition. It includes all the features of the base SEL with the addition of standard AWD and a panoramic sunroof. The top-tier Limited hybrid variant commands a price of $38,535, featuring matching 10.3-inch displays for both the multimedia and instrument panel, heated front and rear seats, LED headlights, a surround-view camera system, leather upholstery, and blind-spot cameras. The Plug-In Hybrid Limited is the most premium offering at $44,445. All Tucson models are backed by a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty.

Hyundai’s overhaul of the Tucson has transformed it from an anonymous crossover into a distinctive model, inside and out. Crafted with numerous intricate folds reminiscent of origami artistry, the Tucson stands out with its distinctive and contemporary styling, elevating it far beyond its price range. Featuring cutting-edge technology, great value, and efficient powertrains, this mid-size Hyundai SUV quietly emerges as a formidable contender in its segment.

Image Source: Mike Mareen / Shutterstock

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