2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review: Even more to like
The 2022 Hyundai Tucson sets a new benchmark for compact crossovers, and it's awesome. This fetching SUV packs tons of features, all the latest tech and solid on-road manners in a rad-looking package. How could Hyundai make it better? Meet the 2022 Tucson Hybrid.
Obviously, the big selling point for any hybrid is fuel economy, and the Tucson doesn't disappoint. The most efficient Blue model will return 38 mpg combined according to the Environmental Protection Agency, while my loaded Limited does slightly worse (a still-very-good 37 mpg). After 300 miles of testing, I had no trouble meeting the EPA's combined rating, and that's without changing my hardly tepid driving style. In fact, the Tucson Hybrid actually encourages spirited driving, which is another big reason this CUV is seriously good.
Standard Tucsons are powered by a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated I4 with 187 horsepower which, while adequate, is hardly exciting. Instead of just electrifying that powertrain, the Tucson Hybrid uses a 1.6-liter turbo I4 that on its own offers 180 hp, complemented by 195 pound-feet of torque that comes on strong at just 1,500 rpm. A 1.5-kilowatt-hour battery sends power to an electric motor, offering an additional 59 hp and 195 lb-ft. You can't just add all these numbers together to get total system output, of course, but Hyundai quotes a final figure of 226 hp, which is a pretty solid increase over the base Tucson, especially considering that plentiful low-end torque.
All Tucson Hybrids come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, and from the moment I pulled out of my driveway, I could really feel a difference. The Hybrid accelerates with a lot more authority than the normal Tucson, with a little electric shove off the line before a rush of turbocharged torque helps this SUV get up to speed. Gear-changes are smooth and imperceptible, and there are even steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, though I'm not really sure when or why you'd use them in a car like this.
Tucson Hybrids get Hyundai's e-handling tech, which uses power from the electric motor to essentially introduce torque vectoring, braking the front wheels when entering a corner and sending additional torque to the rear axle when you exit. It's something you can really feel on a winding road, not that it suddenly turns the Tucson into a sports car. Gas-only and electrified Tucsons have the same steering and suspension tunes, both of which are perfectly appropriate for a compact crossover. The steering is light but direct, and the MacPherson front strut and multilink rear suspension do a nice job of keeping the Tucson smooth and stable at all times. Even with the Limited's swanky 19-inch wheels, this Hyundai isn't the least bit crashy -- even over nasty blemishes.
It's rare that a CUV's hybrid option is both more efficient and more powerful than the standard gas model, but it only makes this Tucson more compelling. In fact, it makes me super stoked to drive the upcoming Tucson plug-in hybrid, which offers a healthy 261 hp, not to mention an estimated 32 miles of all-electric driving range.
Hyundai offers the Tucson Hybrid in three trim levels. The base Blue comes in at $30,235, including $1,185 for destination, and has the same level of equipment as a non-hybrid Tucson SEL AWD. That means goodies like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, full-speed adaptive cruise control, tinted windows, a proximity key and heated seats are all standard, in addition to technologies that come with the most basic Tucson -- LED headlights, forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, automatic high-beams, an 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and, of course, those freaking rad running lights.
The SEL Hybrid adds 19-inch wheels, ambient interior lighting, Hyundai's Digital Key, wireless charging and a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster. At $32,835 delivered, this really seems like the way to go if you don't care about having every last creature comfort.
The upper-crust $38,535 Limited Hybrid has everything you could ever want in a compact SUV. Things like a panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, remote parking assist (smaht pahk), heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, blind-spot cameras are all standard, and you get a larger 10.3-inch multimedia display, too (which weirdly doesn't include wireless CarPlay). The Limited even has Hyundai's Highway Driving Assist, which combines lane-centering tech and adaptive cruise control to make those tedious drives down the freeway a lot easier.
This isn't an exaggeration: The Tucson Limited's interior is nicer than what you'll find in a lot of luxury cars. The leather seats are comfy, the materials on the dashboard and door panels look and feel great (I love those fabric inserts) and the touch-sensitive array of buttons below the infotainment screen is both modern-looking and functional. Those buttons offer instant response, unlike the haptic controls used in some vehicles (Cadillac), though that gloss black panel is a magnet for fingerprint smudges, so maybe keep some wipes in the glovebox or center console.
Front and rear passengers have plenty of room to stretch out, and the Tucson Hybrid is no less capacious than its gas-only counterpart. There's a generous 38.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, which expands to 74.5 cubic feet if you fold the bench flat. That's ever so slightly less than what a Honda CR-V offers, but more than what you'll get in the Ford Escape or Toyota RAV4 hybrids. Considering how much nicer the Hyundai's interior is -- and how awesome this SUV looks from the outside -- it's a pretty minor tradeoff.
It's certainly worth noting that the aforementioned competitors are a couple miles per gallon more efficient than the Tucson, and they're all pretty evenly priced. The Hyundai is far and away the best looking and best driving compact hybrid crossover, plus it's got the fanciest interior and by far the nicest infotainment tech. I'd totally be willing to sacrifice a mile per gallon or two considering all this crossover has to offer. The standard Tucson already raised the bar for compact SUVs; the new Hybrid only pushes it higher.