Hyundai has pulled the covers off an all-new take on one of its “brightest stars,” the 2022 Tucson.
The fourth-generation SUV, known inside the Korean carmaker as the NX4, starts off with a complete exterior makeover, its new, larger platform offering significantly more passenger and cargo space. U.S. buyers will have the option of three separate powertrain packages when the 2022 Hyundai Tucson comes to market next year, including both a conventional hybrid and a plug-in package that will be not only the most fuel-efficient offering, but also the most powerful.
“Tucson has become one of the brightest stars in the Hyundai universe,” its best-selling U.S. model, said Jose Munoz, the president and CEO of Hyundai Motor North America. It has generated more than 1 million sales since it was first introduced 16 years ago and the automaker is determined not to let it get lost in an increasingly crowded compact SUV market.
Though Hyundai developed two versions of the 2022 Tucson, the U.S. will only get the longer model, its wheelbase growing 3.4 inches, to 108.5. Front-to-tail, it measures 182.3 inches, or more than 6 inches longer than the outgoing Tucson. Height and width both grow 0.6 inches, at 65.6 and 73.4 inches, respectively. Cargo volume, meanwhile, jumps about 25%, to 38.7 cubic feet, while passenger volume climbs nearly 6%, to 108.2 cubic feet.
The exterior design is clearly meant to stand out from the crowd, picking up the latest version of Hyundai’s “Sensuous Sportiness” design language. That starts up front with a more three-dimensional take on the Hyundai parametric grille which, here, sleekly incorporates the new front lighting that effectively vanish when turned off. The blade-like shape of the multi-segment running lights are mirrored with the new Tucson’s taillamps.
The new SUV blends soft curves and crisp lines, notably from a profile view where angled creases cut into the front and rear doors. The low hood flows into a raked windshield and, while the roof is relatively flat, it has the appearance of a coupe-like roll thanks to the chrome bar that floats above the side windows.
“We didn’t want Tucson to become just another SUV,” said Hyundai’s global design chief Sangyup Lee. “We wanted it to be a design icon.”
The extended wheelbase translate into a near class-above jump in interior space, especially as far as back seat passengers are concerned. Fold that seat down and there’s a cavernous cargo bay, as Sage Erickson, an award-winning surfer and Hyundai “brand ambassador,” demonstrated by loading in a mass of gear including multiple surfboards.
Hyundai, on the whole, has aggressively moved to shed its cheap-and-cheerful image during the past decade or so, and the 2022 Tucson offers a much more refined and luxurious overall feel. It features a wider, more horizontal instrument panel integrating vents that diffuse, rather than blast, air at front passengers, a hoodless digital gauge cluster, and a new, 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
The widescreen format is similar to that in the new GV80 SUV just launched by Hyundai’s upscale Genesis brand. But the infotainment system has two things the luxury marque doesn’t: wireless versions of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also features Qi wireless smartphone charging. Audiophiles, meanwhile, can upgrade to a higher-end Bose sound system. And, along with a standard backup camera, the SUV features a surround-view monitor that lets a driver see what’s happening all around the vehicle.
The 2022 Tucson is available with Hyundai’s new remote key system that lets a smartphone substitute for the key fob. It can, among other things, start the car remotely and even adjust the front seat heaters.
Hyundai is packing the Tucson with a variety of smart driver assist technologies, including Smart Park which allows the driver to get out and let the Tucson slide into a tight spot on its own.
But some of the biggest tech updates will be available under the hood where Hyundai can fit any of three different powertrains:
- A gas-powered 2.5-liter inline-four making 187 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque and paired with an eight-speed automatic. In the front-wheel-drive package it will deliver a combined EPA rating of 28 mpg, up from 25 with the outgoing SUV;
- A conventional hybrid pairing a 1.6-liter inline-four with a 44.2 kilowatt motor drawing power from a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion battery. Paired to a six-speed automatic, this package will push the numbers up to 226 hp and 259 lb-ft – while also boosting mileage 30%;
- A plug-in hybrid capable of 28 miles in all electric mode. Final power ratings have not yet been released by the PHEV is expected to deliver the best performance of the three powertrains while also getting an EPA rating of 70 MPGe.
Both hybrids will be available only in all-wheel-drive and will feature a new electric torque-vectoring system to help steer through sharp corners. The company expects to add a fourth powertrain package near the end of 2021 for an N-Line version of the Tucson. The company plans to bring as many as seven N-Line models to market in the near future.
The gas and conventional hybrid versions of the 2022 Hyundai Tucson will go on sale in the U.S. next spring, according to Munoz, with the plug-in set to follow during the summer. All three models will be produced at the automaker’s assembly plant in Alabama. Pricing will be announced closer to their sales launches.