A lot has changed since the original Hyundai Tucson was launched back in 2004. SUVs now dominate the American marketplace. And, after a slow start, the South Korean carmaker finally fleshed out its crossover family with an array of offerings, ranging from the little Venue up to the three-row Palisade.
The Tucson may be part of a broader line-up these days, but it’s still the brand’s best-selling CUV — and Hyundai aims to keep it that way with a complete makeover for the coming model year.
From the outside in, the 2022 Tucson gets a new look aimed at moving it upscale, something Hyundai backs up with the use of more premium materials and an expanded list of features.
Known internally as the NX4, the fourth-generation Hyundai Tucson offers buyers more options than ever, especially when it comes to powertrain.
The 2022 crossover can be ordered with not only the choice of a high-mileage turbocharged gas engine but also conventional and plug-in hybrid options. There’ll also be a new Tucson N Line package, though there’ll be none of the performance boost we’ve seen with the new Sonata N Line model.
What’s likely to matter more for potential Tucson buyers is the added room the 2022 makeover manages to deliver for both passengers and cargo. Its wheelbase grows 3.4 inches, to 108.5. Front to tail, Tucson now measures 182.3 inches, more than 6 inches longer than the outgoing SUV. 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 plug-in hybrid loses a slight bit of cargo space due to its larger battery pack.)
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, in this instance, sleekly incorporates the new front lighting that effectively vanishes 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’ve held an ongoing debate about some of the new Tucson’s design details, notably the chrome strip that rises off the hood and flows along the roofline before arcing down to the taillights. That and the sharp angular creases on the door panels clearly do make the 2022 Hyundai SUV a visual standout — but it’s also likely to be controversial among potential buyers.
There’s little disagreement when it comes to the new Tucson’s interior design. It takes the crossover up a couple of notches with elegantly executed details like the horizontal rail that flows across the instrument panel, largely concealing Tucson’s air vents.
The extended wheelbase of the 2022 model translates 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 during the SUV’s debut by loading in a mass of gear including multiple surfboards.
Hyundai, on the whole, moved aggressively to shed its cheap-and-cheerful image during the past decade and the 2022 Tucson boasts a much more refined and luxurious overall feel. It features a wider, more horizontal instrument panel that hightights not only the hidden air vents but also a hoodless digital gauge cluster, and a new, 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
If there’s a weak link, it’s the small digital display used for the climate control. It looks like a leftover from an earlier era of LCD tech and could benefit from something as simple as a thin chrome or piano black frame.
I spent most of a long day’s drive in the 2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid. The engine pairs a 1.6-liter inline-4 with a 44.2 kilowatt motor drawing power from a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion battery. Torque goes to all four wheels through a 6-speed automatic. The package delivers a solid 226 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque — while also delivering an impressive 38 mpg combined. That’s up 30% from the outgoing Tucson Hybrid.
The conventional, gas-powered option is a 2.5-liter inline-4 making a more than acceptable 187 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired with an 8-speed automatic and delivers 29 mpg with the front-wheel-drive package, 26 mpg with the all-wheel-drive Hyundai HTRAC option.
Coming shortly after launch, Hyundai will add a plug-in hybrid, or PHEV, package that will be the real kick-ass option. It uses the same 1.6-liter gas engine as the conventional hybrid, along with the 6-speed and HTRAC system. But power from the electric motor jumps from 59 hp to 90, torque climbing from 195 to 225 lb-ft. Because power hits peak at different points, the numbers aren’t additive, but the Plug-in package peaks out at 261 hp and 224 lb-ft of torque.
Final fuel economy numbers for the plug-in are expected to come in at around 35 mpg, with an MPGe of 70. And the PHEV will get an estimated 32 miles range in all-electric mode.
All three of the powertrains yield a towing capacity of 2,000 pounds, according to Hyundai.
Safety and Technology
The Tucson features a standard 8-inch touchscreen. The widescreen format of the optional, 10.3-inch infotainment system is similar to that in the new GV80 SUV just launched by Hyundai’s upscale Genesis brand. Surprisingly, the infotainment system has two things the luxury marque doesn’t: wireless versions of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Tucson also features optional Qi wireless smartphone charging. Audiophiles, meanwhile, can upgrade to a higher-end Bose sound system. And, along with a standard backup camera, the SUV offers a surround-view monitor that lets a driver see what’s happening all around the vehicle from a birds-eye perspective.
The 2022 Tucson is available with Hyundai’s new remote key system that lets a smartphone substitute for the keyfob. It can, among other things, start the car remotely and even adjust the front seat heaters. Hyundai plans to add even more functions to its Phone-as-Key smartphone app, while it also has updated the brand’s available telematics system.
As noted earlier, the look of the climate control could be improved and we’d prefer to get back to conventional buttons, rather than smartphone-style capacitive controls. The latter simply aren’t as intuitive to use while driving and often require you to take eyes off the road.
From a safety standpoint, the Tucson brings an expanded list of standard features to the Hyundai SmartSense suite, including front collision monitoring and prevention with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance, automatic high beams, driver attention warning, and rear seat alert. There are more new options, too, like blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic monitoring, and adaptive cruise control.
Gone are the days when you’d expect to be able to take an SUV out on a serious off-road course. Most are now likely to struggle with anything more than a gravel road.
So, credit to Hyundai for sending us off for a long morning’s jaunt through the scrub country outside Tucson. No, it wasn’t Moab, but it nonetheless demonstrated the basic capabilities of the new Tucson. Unless you’re a serious off-roader, it enjoys solid skills for pretty much anything you’d throw at it.
I spent my morning inside the 2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid. Here’s where it again will surprise folks who think adjectives like slow and stodgy belong permanently welded to the word, “hybrid.”
Anything but. Hyundai isn’t the first to recognize the potential for using a gas-electric drive to boost performance, as well as fuel economy. We’ve already seen that with hybridized versions of the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. But the Tucson truly stands out.
Power comes on quickly — no surprise with 195 lb-ft of instant-on torque. The driveline keeps pulling as you reach highway speeds. Yet the fuel economy numbers are equally impressive. I’m clearly looking forward to getting into the PHEV version of the Tucson when it’s available for a test drive.
Overall drive dynamics are particularly good, whether driving the hybrid or the gas-only model I switched into later in the day. There’s more road feel and the steering is more direct and linear than with the outgoing Tucson line.
Hyundai has delivered a string of solid hits in the last few years, along with a number of home runs. Whether you put the new Tucson into the latter category likely depends upon your view of its truly edgy exterior styling. At the very least, the automaker deserves credit for not playing it safe.
From pretty much every other perspective, the 2022 Hyundai Tucson stands up with the best in a class that includes powerhouses like RAV4 and CR-V. It is loaded with great features, has a great interior and class-above room. Fuel economy is at or near the top of the segment, depending upon the package.
As for pricing, the new Tucson starts at $24,900 before factoring in $1,185 in delivery fees. The well-equipped Tucson Limited hits $36,100 with HTRAC, and $37,500 for the Limited Hybrid.
The new SUV launches into a segment that has been getting more crowded by the year. That said, there’s every reason to believe it will remain Hyundai’s best-selling SUV.