Motoring

2022 Hyundai Tucson First Drive Review: Bigger, Smoother, Quieter

Pricing spans from $26,135 for an under-equipped Tucson SE to $38,535 for a Tucson Limited hybrid with all-wheel drive.

The fourth-generation 2022 Hyundai Tucson may well be the go-to vehicle for budget-minded buyers seeking refinement, carrying capacity and safety in a compact SUV. Lengthened six inches for 2022, then packed with sound-damping material, this all-new model is a formidable highway cruiser.

The 2022 Tucson offers three gas-engine trim lines and three hybrids. The Tucson Limited, the highest trim line, provides hands-off self-driving by today’s standards, which means the driver can relax while the car steers and maintains speed, but with eyes and hands on the wheel. A plug-in hybrid variant will travel 32 miles on battery alone, a superior range compared with many electrified rivals.

Pricing spans from $26,135 for an under-equipped Tucson SE to $38,535 for a Tucson Limited hybrid with all-wheel drive. The sweet spot of features and safety may be the all-wheel-drive Tucson SEL with the convenience package for $31,685. Pricing hasn’t been announced for the plug-in.

All Tucson models are on sale, Hyundai says, except the plug-in hybrid, which will be available this summer.

Big Inside, Attractive Cabin

The next-generation Tucson looks markedly different with a big, geometric grille and a slew of LED daytime running lights behind it. As for the side view, two generations of swoopy Hyundai Fluidic Sculpture design give way to sharply defined fender bulges that carry onto the front and rear doors and a crease that runs above the door handles toward the rear.

Inside, the dashboard of the Tucson Limited has dual 10.25-inch LCD touchscreens—one on the instrument panel, one in the center stack. One potential misstep: The center stack only has a few physical buttons. Customers have long told Honda what they think of no tuning or volume knob, which (volume but not tuning) has since been restored. But other than the dust sticking to a big flat panel, the capacitive touch panels have a striking look.

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The cabin is sprinkled with first-rate materials. The rear seat is enormous with 41.3 inches of legroom, just 0.3 inches less than the much longer Cadillac Escalade full-size SUV. The interior dimensions give the Tucson versatility beyond a kid hauler, making it an ideal road tripper that will comfortably fit four or five adults and their bags.

Against the top three sellers in the compact crossover segment—the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue—the Tucson fits in the middle at 182.3 inches in length. (The previous third-generation generation Tucson was a smaller 176.2 inches.) It also scores above rivals for passenger and overall interior volume. Cargo stowage is a generous 38.5 cubic-feet. That’s more than the Hyundai Santa Fe (35.9 cubic-feet) and right in line with the Toyota RAV4 (38.4 cubic-feet). Both the Ford Edge and Honda CR-V are the compact SUV segment leaders with 39.2 cubic-feet behind the second row.

On the Road with the 2022 Tucson

For passengers, there’s little not to like, especially on the smooth-riding Limited that has leather seating with rear seat heaters and dual rear USB jacks; the front seats are both heated and ventilated. Conditioned air flows from vents stretching nearly the entire width of the dash; Hyundai calls it Multi-Air Mode.

For the driver, the Tucson is peppy but not cat quick, and handling is proficient without being a threat to the sporty and superior-handling Mazda CX-5 that also has about 10% less interior room.

Tucson’s most impressive tech feature is Highway Driving Assist, or HDA, Hyundai’s name for Level 2 (of 5) self-driving ability. HDA comprises automated lane centering assist and adaptive cruise control combined with sensors that track driver attention. As long as the driver’s eyes are on the road, the crossover drives itself on limited access highways that have clear lane markings. A Tucson driver only needs to take control when passing exit ramps on the left or right, where highways are unkempt or when a car alongside drifts into your lane.

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In a day’s driving, the all-wheel-drive 2.5-liter gasoline-engine Limited—which delivers 187 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque with an eight-speed automatic transmission—returned 28 mostly highway mpg including 25 miles on a barely maintained dirt road meant for 4x4s. Hyundai rates the Tucson at 26 mpg in combined driving for all-wheel drive, 29 for front drive.

2022 Hyundai Tucson Trim Walk

The entry Tucson SE trim exists to provide an advertised sub-$25,000 price, but the base front-drive model climbs to $26,135 with the $1,185 destination fee. All-wheel drive is $1,400 extra across the lineup. Hyundai SmartSense safety features include forward collision warning (with pedestrian and cyclist detection) and automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, automatic high beams and rear occupant alert.

However, the SE lacks the blind spot warning and adaptive cruise control standard on the entry lines of some competitors. An 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard along with two USB jacks and two 12-volt outlets.

The Tucson SEL costs $1,550 more than the SE ($27,685) and is a no-brainer upgrade. Hyundai’s SmartSense suite of driver-assistance safety technology is rounded out with blind spot warning (with auto steering and braking), rear cross-traffic warning and braking, safe exit warning (rear doors won’t open if approaching cars are sensed), full-range adaptive cruise control and telematics (BlueLink). The infotainment adds voice recognition, satellite radio and two rear-seat USB jacks.

A $2,600 convenience package provides a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel, the ability to use an Android phone as a proximity key for door unlock and ignition, a hotel-room style key card (a spare key), 19-inch wheels, wireless phone charging, dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped wheel, ambient lighting and LED interior lights. A $1,700 premium package layers on leather and ventilated front seats, Bose audio, a dark chrome grille and five-LED daytime running lights.

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2022 Hyundai Tucson
2022 Hyundai Tucson

The features list on the sporty Tucson N Line ($31,785) is more show than go. It gets distinct exterior and interior styling elements and no powertrain upgrades. Handling modifications are likely in the next year.

The Tucson Limited in front-drive form costs $35,885. It’s a near-$4,000 jump from the mid-grade SEL with the two options packages. The Limited comes standard with HDA, a panoramic sunroof covering front and rear seats, front and rear parking warning, dynamic voice recognition, heated steering wheel and rear seats, surround-view cameras, a blind-spot view monitor (a rear-side views shows in the instrument panel when the turn signal is on), and rear parking collision avoidance. It’s this upscale trim line that makes the Tucson a strong counterpoint to the top-line CX-5: effectively, more room, less zoom.

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