Dramatic styling. Spacious. Supple ride. Good handling. Upscale interior. AWD.Cons --
Steering has no road feel. No radio volume or station selection knobs. Touchy screen controls. Bottom Line --
New Tucson is among the most attractive compact SUVs.
The much-improved 2022 Hyundai Tucson
hits a homer in the styling department and is larger, sportier and among the top compact SUVs.
The new Tucson’s dramatic styling, alone, is sure to attract buyers. Sex appeal is generated by lots of curves, a long hood, level roofline, a longer wheelbase and short overhangs. It’s 6.1 inches longer and nearly an inch wider, with a wheelbase 3.4 inches longer.
A small but clever design touch that adds a bit to the sporty looking body’s appearance is a rear windshield wiper concealed below the rear roof spoiler when not is use.
There’s plenty of room for four tall adults in the quiet cabin, although five fit if the center rear occupant doesn’t mind a firm seat portion. The minimalist (spell “modern”) interior has a digital dashboard and screens that fill the center stack. The interior has supportive leather-trimmed heated and ventilated power front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, dual automatic temperature control, tilt-telescopic wheel, digital gauges, surround view monitor, remote smart park assist and a panoramic sunroof.
Console cupholders are nicely placed, and the console has a fairly large covered storage bin. But there are only an average number of storage areas. There’s a touch-sensitive control screen for such things as the infotainment system, but there are no radio volume or station selection knobs. It’s easy to accidentally hit the screen’s sound system volume control a little too hard, which causes the Bose Premium audio system to almost blast occupants out of the vehicle.
The push-button starter and shift controls work OK, but the row of dashboard pushbutton controls are touchy and feel dead. Controls to adjust the outside rearview mirrors work well, but the mirrors must be manually folded against the front door glass to prevent costly damage to them in crowded areas. I was surprised that the upscale Tucson Limited Hybrid AWD doesn’t have a power feature for this function.
Cargo volume is up 7.7 cubic feet. The big trunk has a low, wide opening and an automatic up/down lift gate. The reclining rear seat backs flip forward to significantly increase cargo room.
This is a rather large SUV, so getting in the 66-inch high Tucson calls for a little extra effort. But all doors have easily grabbed handles, inside and out, and there are even interior grab straps above all doors, apparently to keep occupants in place if the driver, say, suddenly swerves.
This Tucson is no sports SUV, although a “sportier” “N Line,” model, which really just has a cosmetic package, is offered. The Tucson comes in various trim levels, with prices starting at $24,950. My test Tucson Limited Hybrid AWD listed at $37,350. While lower-line models have 187 horsepower, the Limited Hybrid AWD version I drove had a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and battery system that shot 226 horsepower to a smooth six-speed automatic transmission, which has paddle shifters. Acceleration both from a standing start and during 65-plus m.p.h. highway passing was swift and linear.
The battery system is guaranteed for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Estimated fuel economy is 37 miles per gallon in town and 36 on highways. Only regular grade fuel is needed.
A driver can select Normal, ECO, Smart, Sport and Snow driving modes via a console control. I didn’t notice much difference between the Normal, Smart, Sport (no snow in Chicago in July) modes, although Sport stiffened the ride a bit and caused upshifts to be delayed a little, which hurts fuel economy. The Normal mode, unlike the others, isn’t displayed on the instrument cluster and provides the smoothest driving and comfortable riding. The driving mode is set to Normal when the engine is restarted.
My test Tucson’s almost overly light steering was accurate but lacked road feel. Handling was good, although taking curves at above-average speeds brought out some body roll. Still, my test vehicle could be driven rapidly with confidence thanks to a sophisticated suspension, electronic stability control with traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist and, naturally, the AWD system.
The brakes have good feel, and engine braking is simultaneously used to decelerate the Tucson and to charge up the high-voltage battery. Both the engine and regenerative brake system charges up that battery. Speaking of charging, a 15-volt cooled charging pad will help keep your cell phone alive.
There are advanced safety features galore to satisfy potential Tucson Limited Hybrid AWD buyers. They include a forward collision-avoidance assist system, lane-keeping and lane-following assist, driver-attention warning with rear occupant alert, blind spot collision-avoidance assist, front/rear safe distance and parking distance warnings, downhill brake control and hill-assist control. There also are front, front side and side-curtain air bags with rollover sensors.
The new Hyundai Tucson now is fully capable of combating rivals such as the Honda CRV, Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 and Volkswagen Tiguan.