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2022 Hyundai Tucson revealed for US with 2 hybrid powertrains and lots of new tech

Hyundai's redesigned compact crossover looks like no other SUV on the road.

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The new Tucson looks damn good.

Hyundai

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson crossover was first unveiled back in September, but at the time we only saw a Euro-spec model and didn't have many concrete details. On Monday, Hyundai officially showed the US-spec Tucson via live-stream debut, also releasing a host of new photos as well as full specs and details for the redesigned compact SUV.

Hyundai made waves in the past couple years with the introduction of radically styled new models, the Sonata and Elantra chief among them, but the Tucson might be the company's wildest-looking offering yet. Hyundai calls the design theme, which was previewed in last year's Vision T concept, "Parametric Dynamics." This basically means the Tucson has complex surfacing and interesting detailing. The standout design element is the jewel-like front grille, which houses the LED daytime running lights and turn signals that appear completely hidden when the SUV is turned off. (The headlights themselves are the large units positioned outside the grille.) It looks super slick in person and will give the Tucson a distinctive light signature at night, as will the slash-like taillights with a full-width light bar.

Along the sides, the Tucson has bulging wheel arches and a series of intersecting character lines that bring to mind the Lamborghini Urus -- in a good way -- but the whole look is distinctively Hyundai. The greenhouse is highlighted by a large chrome trim piece that gets thicker near the rear of the car, essentially becoming the D-pillar. The Hyundai logo at the rear is set at the base of the glass on the hatch, with the rear wiper tucked underneath the spoiler. I particularly like that Hyundai did without fake mesh grilles in the rear bumper, instead going with a diamond pattern that still creates visual interest.

17-inch wheels are standard with 19s coming on the higher-end models, and the Limited gets its own specific bumper designs, a darker grille finish, gloss-black pillars and faux skid plate elements. If the regular Tucson doesn't look crazy enough to you, Hyundai also teased the sporty N Line model on Monday, which will arrive later in 2021.

Compared to the outgoing Tucson, the 2022 model is 6.1 inches longer, 0.6 inches taller and 0.6 inches wider, and it rides on a 3.4-inch-longer wheelbase. There's 7.7 more cubic feet of space than the 2021 model with the rear seats up, and an additional 11.9 cubic feet with them down. That means there's more room for both front and rear passengers in nearly every dimension. The new Tucson has more ground clearance, too.

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The new Tucson's interior looks and feels high-end.

Hyundai

Modern interior with coronavirus-fighting air vents

The interior design isn't as in-your-face as the outside, but it still looks nice and modern. Hyundai calls this theme "Interspace," referring to the tiered design of the dashboard and door panels. Silver air vents appear to wrap around the cabin, and there's interesting cloth trim underneath. In what Hyundai says is a unique feature for the auto industry (and likely something being touted because of the COVID-19 pandemic), the Tucson's HVAC system and design of the vents provides "diffused airflow" that "reduces potentially unpleasant airflow," according to a company statement. 

I got the chance to check out a fully loaded Limited model in person, which had leather upholstery and plusher materials on the dash and door cards, and I came away impressed. It felt airy and spacious, with lots of clever features and a bunch of storage components, especially in the tiered center console. The main plastic surround for the center console was the only cheap-feeling spot, but that's one of the interior components that could see the most abuse anyway. There's a ton of legroom in the second row thanks to that longer wheelbase, and the 60/40 split seatbacks recline and easily fold flat.

An 8-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability is standard fare for the base SE model, as is a 4.2-inch color display between the analog gauges. A 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster is optional on the midrange SEL trim and standard on the top-end Limited. But the real showstopper is the 10.2-inch touchscreen that comes standard on the Limited, running the same infotainment system as other new Hyundais like the Sonata. It does without any sort of physical buttons or switches, instead using touch-capacitive buttons. The whole setup looks great and works well, but I do wish there was a physical volume knob and a specific home button.

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No physical buttons to be found.

Hyundai

A more powerful base engine and 2 new hybrids

The Tucson's base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 187 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque; that's 26 hp and 28 lb-ft more than the outgoing Tucson's 2.0-liter I4, and 6 hp and 4 lb-ft more than the optional 2.4-liter engine. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission option, and front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive as an option. Hyundai says it expects the 2.5-liter Tucson to have a combined rating of 28 miles per gallon, which bests the front-drive, base-engine 2021 model by 3 mpg.

The two optional hybrid powertrains are definitely the most interesting. First up is the traditional hybrid, which pairs a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four with an electric motor and a 1.49-kilowatt-hour battery pack for a total output of 226 hp and 258 lb-ft. All-wheel drive is standard, and the hybrid uses a six-speed automatic transmission. Hyundai says the hybrid should be 30% more fuel efficient than the base gas engine, and it's estimated to have a range of over 500 miles.

Then there's the plug-in-hybrid model, which uses the same 1.6-liter turbo engine but has a more powerful electric motor and a much larger 13.8-kWh battery pack. It also comes standard with AWD and uses the same six-speed auto as the regular hybrid. Hyundai doesn't have total power and torque figures yet, but it says the Tucson PHEV will have an electric range of around 28 miles and a 2-hour recharge time using a Level 2 charger. 

Both hybrid models get what Hyundai calls "E-Handling," which is basically a fancy torque-vectoring system achieved by modulating the power from the electric motor. On corner entry and turn-in the electric motor applies "precise incremental braking force" to the front wheels, according to Hyundai, while on corner exit the motor sends more torque to the rear wheels. Hyundai says this system provides better traction, stability and steering response, as well as making the Tucson more fun to drive. The E-Handling system is on by default, but it can be deactivated.

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Those wacky DRLs appear hidden when the car is off.

Hyundai

It's got Smaht Pahk

Modern Hyundais are also known for offering features and tech items normally reserved for more premium brands, and the 2022 Tucson is no different. Available features include rear USB ports, a panoramic sunroof, proximity entry with pushbutton start, a hands-free power hatch, heated and ventilated front seats (and heated rear seats), dual-zone automatic climate control, a heated steering wheel, a Bose sound system, rain-sensing wipers and wireless phone charging. Strangely, you get wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with the wireless charging, but only with the smaller, 8-inch touchscreen (just like on the Sonata). The Tucson also gets Hyundai's smartphone-based Digital Key, and the remote start feature can turn on the seat heating or ventilation.

A bunch of safety features come standard, too. Every Tucson gets automatic emergency braking with cyclist and pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, lane-keeping assist and a rear-seat occupant alert. Take a step up the trim-level ladder and you get adaptive cruise with stop and go, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic assist and safe exit warning. The top Limited trim nets you a 360-degree camera system, blind-spot cameras, front and rear parking sensors and lane centering for the adaptive cruise.

You should probably start preparing yourself for more Hyundai ads with Boston accents in them, because the Tucson Limited also gets Hyundai's Smart Park system that debuted on the Sonata. In case that Super Bowl ad isn't permanently embedded in your brain, Smart Park is controlled from the key fob (or phone app) and allows the Tucson to remotely drive forward or backward at low speeds. This helps when parking in a tight space, but really it's just good for showing off to your friends or scaring strangers.

Hyundai says the standard, gas-powered Tucson will be built in South Korea as well as at the company's plant in Alabama, while the hybrids and N Line will be built solely in Korea. The gas and regular hybrid models will start hitting Hyundai dealer lots in spring 2021, with the plug-in hybrid following in the summer. Look for official info on pricing and more powertrain details closer to then.