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2022 Hyundai Tucson Throws Down Gauntlet to the Competition

2022 Hyundai Tucson Throws Down Gauntlet to the Competition

  • Fully redesigned for 2022
  • New engine lineup includes plug-in hybrid model
  • Impressive list of standard in-car tech and driver aids
  • Kicks off the fourth Tucson generation

What is the Tucson?

You won't often find truly daring design in the small SUV class. Vehicles in this segment typically prioritize utility and comfort over handsome looks or thrilling performance. The redesigned 2022 Hyundai Tucson asks: "What if you could have everything above and more?"

The Tucson has historically hewn to conservative styling conventions. Now in its fourth generation, the new version is quite different, with a cascading front light signature, squared wheel arches and bold creases on the bodywork. The interior is also more dynamic, with a center stack devoid of hard buttons and a shroudless digital instrument panel. An avant-garde SUV? It's happening, and it'll be in showrooms by the spring of 2021.

How does the Tucson drive?

Hyundai is going all-in on the new Tucson's powertrains. Most models will be driven by the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder that powers the recently redesigned Sonata sedan. It produces 187 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque in the Tucson, and it's matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration for normal driving is adequate, but you might find it a little lacking when you need a burst of speed, such as when making a highway pass. The transmission could use a bit more refinement as well; we noticed a couple of weird lurches while we were driving through parking lots. Also, the shift programming for the Sport mode could be more aggressive.

There will also be hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants, using a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine as the primary source of power. In the hybrid, the combined output between the engine and electric motor stands at about 226 hp and 258 lb-ft. The plug-in hybrid is a bit more powerful; Hyundai estimates the entire system makes 260 hp. Hyundai also says the plug-in can travel up to 28 miles on electricity alone when fully charged.

How comfortable is the Tucson?

The new Tucson is more comfortable than the last generation. The driver's and front passenger seats are supple and supportive, and occupants have a good amount of room to stretch out. The second row has good cushion padding and a wide bench that should remain appealing for four people over long distances. The 3 inches of extra rear legroom in the new Tucson and the reclining rear seatbacks should give most people enough adjustability to find a comfy spot.

The Tucson's suspension absorbs most road imperfections without feeling overly floaty. This is a small SUV that's easy to maneuver around town. You won't feel tired after riding in the Tucson — it's very much like a mini Hyundai Palisade.

How's the Tucson's interior?

The 2022 Tucson starts with the upscale design concepts that debuted on the Sonata and takes them even further. The two share a similarly styled transmission selector cluster, but the rest of the Tucson's interior looks decidedly more tech-heavy. This vibe is highlighted by a frameless digital instrument panel, a buttonless center stack and 64-color ambient lighting.

Even if you don't select a model with all the bells and whistles, the curved lines that continue from the door to dash give the front a dual cockpit feel. While Tucsons in other markets will be available in two wheelbase lengths, we'll only get the longer one in the U.S. The outgoing model is fairly roomy in both rows, but the 2022 version is even more accommodating thanks to the 3-inch bump in legroom and slight headroom increase for both rows.

How's the Tucson's tech?

The new Tucson aims to be the most high-tech small SUV on the market. A standard 8-inch touchscreen packs wireless capabilities for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. A snappy and responsive 10.25-inch screen is available on upper trim levels. And to free up purse or pocket space, the Tucson allows you to use your phone as a key. This feature, however, only works with Android phones equipped with near-field communication technology.

The Tucson comes standard with several advanced driving aids, including lane keeping assist, lane centering assist, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection. The available blind-spot monitor can now tap the brakes if you start to enter a lane occupied by another car. It also now features a blind-spot camera when you flick the turn signal, and the system can stop the Tucson if a car or pedestrian is crossing your path while in reverse. Adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree parking camera system and automated remote parking (Hyundai's Smart Park feature) are available in upper trims. The Limited trim we drove had everything, and the tech worked seamlessly.

How economical is the Tucson?

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson's standard gas engine returns an EPA-estimated 29 mpg combined (26 city/33 highway) for front-wheel-drive versions and 26 mpg combined (24 city/29 highway) for the all-wheel-drive. The Hybrid Blue, which is the base hybrid and comes standard with AWD, is EPA-estimated to return 38 mpg combined, while the upper trim hybrids that come loaded with more standard features get 37 mpg combined. Information for the plug-in hybrid was not available at the time of this writing.

Fuel economy is competitive in the segment for the standard gas engine but trends toward the lower end of the class in combined mpg. The hybrid, with 38 mpg combined, is effectively stalemated with Honda's CR-V, and the Toyota RAV4 remains the class leader at 40 mpg.

Edmunds says

The Tucson has always been a solid pick in the small SUV segment, even though its styling was a little anonymous. The redesigned 2022 Hyundai Tucson ventures in a bold new direction, complete with an expressive exterior, a comfortable and upscale cabin, a range of powertrain choices, and high-tech safety features. Just be aware that the standard 2.5-liter engine feels adequate at best.