Hyundai’s moved on from just having enough SUV and crossover options in its portfolio to offering specialized versions of those vehicles to attract new buyers to its impressive line-up of utility vehicles.
Long the biggest criticism of the South Korean brand, Hyundai’s now got a full complement of utility vehicles, among the most popular being the Tucson. It’s also been around the longest, so the compact crossover’s got a bit of a following — or at least some familiarity with buyers in the compact crossover segment.
Now Hyundai’s moving to capitalize on the desire of buyers who want a little more capability from their vehicles. They want them to be more than grocery getters with a higher seating position, but they also don’t need them to be fully off-road capable. More importantly, they don’t want the bloated price tag that comes with full off-road capability.
Enter the 2022 Tucson XRT AWD. It shares the spotlight with other vehicles offering the same formula, like the Outback Wilderness or the Toyota RAV4 TRD Pro. Even Hyundai’s sibling, Kia, offers the Sorento X-Line.
More show than go for these vehicles — although the RAV4 TRD is the exception — it’s a way to help Hyundai find more buyers. And by adding these packages to lower trim level models, they’re adding to the company’s bottom line.
The Tucson XRT starts life as an SEL model before getting the accoutrement for the upgrade to XRT. It is a good-looking compact crossover. Like all Hyundai models, it features the current iteration of the brand’s Sensuous Sportiness design language. The ute’s designed to look more capable than it is, and the small slit-like headlights accent the width of the well-designed grille.
The grille and headlights essentially draw you to the slightly arched front quarter panels, that come to a point facing a crease that begins in the middle of the front two doors and draws your eye down the rest of the vehicle’s side. The rear quarter panels flare out, highlighted by the black side cladding, keeping the athletic and rugged theme of the XRT intact.
Using plenty of black with the side cladding, side mirrors, 19-inch alloy wheels and the window surrounds in concert with the black roof rails as well as the all-black interior, enhances the look and feel of the Tucson XRT as a vehicle capable of plenty of action.
If there was a downside, it’s the black side steps. They’re hard to see in the dark and, more importantly, the vehicle isn’t lifted enough to need them. Nearly everyone who got into the car with me — ranging in height from about 5’ 4” to 6’4” — uttered some form of “What are these for?!”
They’re not needed and provide more annoyance than assistance — dump them or add another 3 or 4 inches of ground clearance.
The interior would make Johnny Cash a fan: black, black and black. The seating is all cloth as is the headliner, which is also black only. It’s a simple aesthetic, but it works well in this small ute. It’s uncomplicated without feeling cheap, especially with the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The cabin offers plenty of space, including easy ingress and egress in the front and rear seats. I’m bigger man and this isn’t always the case in smaller utility vehicles.
Once you’re inside, you’ll find you have plenty of space not just for you but for your things. The heated cloth seats are supportive and comfortable, and very good for a longer drive. All of the touchscreens, switches, knobs and whatnot are all within easy reach of the driver and can be seen clearly. Hyundai’s been updating its interiors and the designers have done a fine job in keeping the cabin clean and roomy without coming across as cheap — no easy feat in this class of vehicle.
The Tucson offers three potential powertrains in the 2022 mode: gas, hybrid and plug-in hybrid. Our tester came with the brand’s Smartstream 2.5-liter direct-injected and multi-port-injected 4-cylinder gas engine putting out 187 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive. The engine is punchy, but not powerful. It won’t make you stand up and take notice, but its more than acceptable for daily commuting or running errands, whether that involves scooting around on surface streets or keeping ahead of the pack on the expressway.
As for the transmission, I believe that if I don’t stop and think about the performance of any transmission, then it’s doing its job very, very well — very much the case with the 8-speed auto here. Smooth shifts and power delivery suggest an excellent offering.
Safety and Technology
The winners and losers in this segment are determined in this category — and the Tucson XRT is a winner.
The interior offers three separate technologies, including a 10.25-inch full-touch screen, a hoodless digital gauge cluster, and multi-air ventilation, a temperature-adjusting system providing diffused airflow on the front passengers. According to Hyundai, the indirect, diffusing ventilation system “reduces potentially unpleasant airflow and is unique in the automotive industry.”
I’d say, “Uh, sure.” I can say I was never too cold nor to warm in the vehicle … like Goldilocks prefers, I was just right. Still a bunch of screens can be disconcerting and off-putting. However, this wasn’t the case in the Tucson XRT. The setup was intuitive and easy to use. More importantly, it links to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which like so many other folks, I use exclusively, but only after initially testing the installed system in the vehicle.
Our model came with wireless phone charging, a nice feature in a car in this price range, and plenty of USB ports to charge other phones or accessories.
In terms of safety, our test model came with advanced driver assistance tech people are calling for in vehicles these days, including forward collision-avoidance assist, lane keeping and lane following assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist and plenty more. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives it an overall crash rating of five stars, including for frontal and side crashes and four stars for rollover crashes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offered similar ratings, giving it a “Good” in all crashworthiness categories. Good is the highest rating the organization offers.
The XRT makes a nice-looking vehicle better looking. Fortunately for Hyundai, I don’t think anyone believes a roof rack and bigger wheels make it ready for serious off-roading. But if you’re looking to separate your small crossover from the rest of the pack for minimal cash, the XRT package a good route to go.
More importantly, when you climb behind the wheel, the exterior hasn’t deceived you. The Tucson XRT is an excellent performer in almost any environment. The 2.5-liter inline-4 offers plenty of oomph for traversing traffic-laden surface streets while ensuring you have no problem merging into — and keeping up with — free-flowing traffic on the interstate.
The handling, even in sport mode, is … fine. You don’t buy this vehicle because you’re going to run it through curving and twisting roads at high speeds. It’s not made for that and if you think it might be, you’ll be underwhelmed — even in Sport mode.
One bit of technology I didn’t really get a chance to put to the test was Hyundai’s HTRAC All-Wheel-Drive system. For use across all of the vehicle’s driving modes it uses computer smarts to help shift the torque from the front to the back axle, depending what option will help maintain vehicle control. The weather during my week in the XRT was pretty boring so there was no real chance to put it to the test.
2022 Hyundai Tucson XRT Specifications
|L: 182.3 inches/W: 73.4 inches/H: 65.6 inches/Wheelbase: 108.5 inches
|2.5-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder engine, 8-speed automatic w/AWD
|24 mpg city/29 mpg highway/26 mpg combined
|187 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $32,625; As tested: $34,790 including $1,245 destination charge.
The 2022 Hyundai Tucson XRT competes in a tough segment of the market. Often, the vehicles in this arena, like the aforementioned Toyota RAV4, are the top sellers for that particular brand. The automakers know this and ensure there are plenty of resources for buyers of these vehicles.
The XRT is very attractive. Not just on the exterior, but the whole package. If you need a very comfortable space with plenty of room to handle groceries, home improvement supplies and people, this one’s among the best in the segment. And it does this all for less than $35K out the door. If I were in the market, this one would be on my list — especially in hybrid form.
2022 Hyundai Tucson XRT — Frequently Asked Questions
Does the 2022 Hyundai Tucson have AWD?
The Tucson offers HTRAC All-Wheel Drive comes standard.
What is Tucson XRT trim?
Available as an add on for the SEL trim level, the XRT trim looks tougher and rugged than the standard model with its blacked-out design elements. Changes on the XRT trim include: Exclusive front and rear fascias with rugged detailing. Beefier black cladding around the sides and the wheel wells.
What is the Tucson’s top model range?
The top-spec Ultimate is fully loaded, with ventilated leather seats, a panoramic glass sunroof and a powered tailgate. You can no longer buy a Hyundai Tucson with a diesel engine. Instead, there’s a line-up of petrol and hybrid power — including mild hybrid, conventional hybrid and plug-in hybrid.