Redesigned for 2022, the Hyundai Tucson rises from the mire of compact-crossover mediocrity with its exterior design, rich features set, and polished demeanor. Its standard engine, though, delivers tepid acceleration. Thankfully, electrification rides to the rescue on its battery-powered horse, giving the Tucson hybrid not only better gas mileage but also a welcome shot of adrenaline.
Fuel economy is any hybrid’s calling card, so we’ll start there. EPA estimates for the Tucson hybrid with standard all-wheel drive are 37 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, or 38/38 mpg for the base Blue model. That’s a big jump up from the regular Tucson, with its 2.5-liter four-cylinder and all-wheel drive, which carries estimates of 24/29 mpg.
Next to other all-wheel-drive hybrid compact SUVs, the Tucson isn’t quite as impressive. The Honda CR-V’s estimates are 40/35 mpg, while those for the Toyota RAV4 (41/38 mpg) and the Ford Escape (43/37 mpg) are even better. And the Tucson hybrid underachieved in our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, delivering just 28 mpg—that’s disappointing, given that a Kia Sorento hybrid, which uses a front-wheel-drive version of the same powertrain, managed 42 mpg in the same test.
If the fuel-economy argument doesn’t win you over, the hybrid’s snappier acceleration might. Its 1.6-liter turbo four pairs with a 59-hp electric motor for a total of 226 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which betters the standard 2.5-liter by 39 horses and 80 pound-feet. Despite weighing 146 pounds more than the base-engine AWD Tucson, the hybrid can eclipse 60 mph in a comparably fleet 7.1 seconds versus a languid 8.8 for the standard Tucson. The Tucson hybrid also beat the 60-mph times of the hybrid RAV4, CR-V, and Escape. In the quarter-mile, it shows similar gains, with the hybrid completing a pass in 15.4 seconds at 91 mph versus 16.7 at 85 mph for the standard model. Again, the Tucson hybrid also tops its competitors. Passing performance is much improved as well. Accelerating from 50 to 70 mph took 4.6 seconds here—much quicker the base model’s 6.0 seconds. Overall, drivers will find sufficient grunt to pull quickly away from a stop or get up to speed merging down a short on-ramp.
Unlike its rivals, the Tucson hybrid employs a six-speed automatic transmission rather than a CVT. That might sacrifice a measure of efficiency, but it makes for pleasant drivability without the slurred throttle response of a stepless transmission. The Tucson hybrid also avoids other common gas-engine drivability drawbacks. The handoffs between gasoline and electric propulsion are seamless, with the electric motor able to solely power the vehicle even at highway speeds, albeit under very light throttle applications. Despite the blending of regenerative and friction braking, there’s no weirdness in the brake-pedal modulation. The hybrid also tows up to 2000 pounds, same as with the base engine. There is one drawback, though: The Tucson hybrid beeps when reversing, just like a Prius. That’s annoying.
In contrast to its creased and faceted sheetmetal, the Tucson hybrid’s driving experience smooths out the rough edges. The ride is well controlled, and the suspension can mask all but the sharpest bumps. We measured 70 decibels of noise under wide-open throttle, a quiet performance for a compact crossover. The hybrid’s 0.84 g of grip on the skidpad just fractionally beats the regular Tucson’s 0.83 g and also betters the Honda, Toyota, and Ford hybrids. We wouldn’t go so far as to call this Hyundai’s handling engaging—this is no Porsche Macan—although the steering is pleasantly weighted.
Outside of the mechanicals, the Tucson hybrid brings the same impressive packaging as the regular version. The new Tucson is 6.1 inches longer than before with a 3.4-inch longer wheelbase. That bigger box makes for 41.3 inches of rear-seat legroom, which surpasses even the spacious CR-V, and a six-footer has plenty of space sitting behind a similarly sized driver. The cargo volume of 39 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 75 with the rear seatbacks folded is among the most commodious in the segment (and no less than the nonhybrid Tucson).
The interior design of our top-spec Limited model may not match the finery of Hyundai’s ritziest Santa Fe or Palisade models, but it is sleek and attractive. The climate-control vents are merged into the interior trim, which sweeps from the door panels onto the dash and down the sides of the center stack—a neat touch. The two upper trims feature a freestanding digital instrument cluster that doesn’t offer a whole lot of configurability but does incorporate Hyundai’s helpful blind-spot view monitor.
Although the interior looks nice, the center stack’s expanse of currently trendy touch-sensitive controls is an ergonomic flop. Plus and minus touchpoints for audio volume and tuning are never the right answer, and touch controls for temperature and fan speed aren’t much better. Some of this can be avoided by bypassing the Limited in favor of the SEL Convenience or the Blue trim level, both of which at least have some physical controls: thumbwheels for volume and audio tuning and flipper switches to adjust cabin temperature. There is a bank of physical buttons for lesser controls at the front of the center console, where another group of buttons perform shifting duties rather than a more ergonomic gear lever.
Our Limited model featured the Tucson’s larger 10.3-inch infotainment display, which can be partitioned to show two functions at once—navigation and audio, for instance. If the system is paired with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, however, the right side of the screen somewhat less helpfully shows your phone’s make and model instead. On the subject of smartphone mirroring, the Limited’s larger display requires a wired connection, but the 8.0-inch touchscreen in the two lower trims supports wireless connectivity.
So, that’s a couple of knocks against the Limited. In its favor, however, are exclusive features including heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, a surround-view camera, remote smart parking, and smartphone-as-key capability. Adaptive cruise control is standard on all trims, but only the Limited gets Hyundai’s more sophisticated highway driving assist. In all, this is a robust list of upscale equipment.
The Tucson hybrid starts at $30,425 for the Blue and ranges up to $38,725 for the Limited, prices that are $1150 to $2350 more than the equivalent base-engine model with all-wheel drive. Given that the hybrid addresses the new Tucson’s chief shortcoming while also providing a fuel-economy bonus, it seems worth the extra spend. For us, this is the Tucson to get.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io