2022 Hyundai Tucson: Designed to Stand Out

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson is all-new. The Tucson is Hyundai’s compact crossover, competing with powerhouses like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 in one of the most competitive automotive segments. The current Tucson was last redesigned for 2016. After six model years, you’d think it would start feeling its age, especially when compared with newer rivals. Even so, the Tucson was Hyundai’s best selling model in 2020. That they sold over 123,000 units speaks to the competitiveness of the current model, and how hot the compact SUV marketplace truly is. Therefore, you’d think Hyundai might want to play it safe with a full redesign of their most popular vehicle. But that’s not what they’ve done.

It’s bigger!

The 2022 Tucson is bigger than the outgoing model. It’s longer, wider, and taller, and the wheelbase is 3.4 inches longer. And compared to the last Tucson, interior space is up with an additional 6 cubic feet of passenger space. Drivers and passengers will find additional space for their heads, legs, and shoulders compared to the outgoing 2021 Tucson. There’s 7.7 more cubic feet of space for cargo with the rear seats up, and nearly 12 more once they’re folded down.

In exterior dimensions, the new Tucson is similar to rivals like the Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, and the aforementioned CR-V and RAV4. However, its wheelbase is at least 2 inches longer, which enables the Tucson to provide more rear seat legroom than any of those competitors. Cargo space is toward the top, though not the best in class.

2022 Hyundai Tucson rear seat
Image courtesy of Hyundai

A Tucson for all.

Hyundai’s aim is to have a Tucson to meet the needs of every compact SUV shopper. It will be available in entry-level SE, midrange SEL, and top-spec Limited trim levels. A sporty N Line version will be available. More details are coming, although this may be mostly an appearance package with no major performance upgrades over standard Tucsons. There’s a gasoline/electric Hybrid, as well as a gasoline/electric Plug-in Hybrid Tucson, both available in Blue or Limited trims. The non-Hybrid Tucsons come standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is an option. Both Hybrids have all-wheel drive as standard equipment.

Pricing hasn’t been announced for the 2022 Tucsons, but it would be reasonable to anticipate slight increases over the 2021s. The outgoing 2021 Tucsons range in base price from $24,885 up to $33,235 including destination. Hyundai has never made a Hybrid or Plug-in Hybrid Tucson before, so there’s no pricing point of reference for these more efficient variants. The conventional gasoline and Hybrid 2022 Tucsons will be hitting dealerships in the spring, with the Plug-in Hybrid coming in summer. The sporty N Line is coming later in 2021.

2022 Hyundai Tucson: Distinctive Styling

As I said above, they didn’t play it safe with the new 2022 Hyundai Tucson. That much is apparent just from looking at it. Hyundai calls it their Sensuous Sportiness (I’m not making that up – and I may start referring to myself as sensuous and sporty) design identity. There’s no denying that you’ll be less likely to lose the 2022 Tucson in the Costco parking lot among a sea of its look-alike competition. Whether you love its looks or not, the Tucson stands out.

Cool lights!

I geek the hell out over automotive lighting, and the Tucson has some of the most interesting lighting elements in the industry. The headlights are mounted below and separate from the grille and turn signals, but the setup for the running lamps are the most distinctive. Once illuminated, five triangles light up on each side of the grille. But when they’re off, these lighting elements disappear within the grille’s design.

At the rear, there’s a full-width light bar, and two triangular segments that jut down on either side. Within each of those elements are smaller triangles, only visible up close, repeating the theme from the running lights up front.

Creases and other details…

Possibly the most controversial styling elements are the sharp, dramatic, angular creases along the sides of the 2022 Hyundai Tucson. Designers decided to forego the smooth, curvy body sculpting commonly used in other compact crossovers. Similar styling elements were used in Hyundai’s newest Elantra sedan, but I think the effect is more successful here. Perhaps the Tucson’s taller, broader sides are to thank for this.

2022 Hyundai Tucson side profile
Image courtesy of Hyundai

Another cool detail is the chrome line running from the sideview mirrors, up above the windows, then widening as it runs down the D-pillar at the rear of the Tucson. It balances the design and creates the illusion of a sleek roofline, even though the overall body lines are relatively upright to preserve passenger and cargo space. Visual clutter is kept to a minimum at the rear end. The rear wiper is hidden within the rear spoiler, and I like the way the Hyundai logo is seemingly integrated within the rear glass.

2022 Hyundai Tucson: That Interior, Though

If the Tucson’s funky head and taillights and wild creases didn’t scare you off, you’re in for a treat once you get inside. The Tucson does in fact have more passenger space than both the outgoing version and most competitors, but the open and inviting interior will make it feel roomier still. The dashboard looks modern and clean, and appears low and out of your way. This is emphasized by the lines created by the HVAC vents running from end to end and wrapping into both front doors. The most intriguing feature is the lack of a hood above the gauges, which is typically used to control glare. It remains to be seen whether Hyundai’s designers have found an alternate way to avoid this problem. But the lack of a dome over the instruments creates a more symmetrical and less-obtrusive overall appearance to the dash.

2022 Hyundai Tucson: Available Powertrains

The standard gasoline engine…

The conventionally-powered 2022 Hyundai Tucson will use a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making 187 horsepower. This new standard engine makes more power than both available engines in the outgoing Tucson, but is also more efficient. Hyundai anticipates a combined 28 miles per gallon with front-wheel drive. With all-wheel drive, I’d expect a drop of 1-2 mpg. We’ll have to wait to see how the EPA testing compares to Hyundai’s figures. But if the new Tucson could hit 28 mpg in real-world driving, that would make it one of the more fuel-efficient entries in its class. An 8-speed automatic transmission is paired with this standard engine. No noisy, droning continuously variable transmission here.

The gasoline/electric Hybrid…

In the Hybrid Tucson, a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is paired with an electric motor to make 226 total horsepower. Hyundai says the Hybrid will be 30% more fuel efficient than the 2.5-liter standard engine. Doing some quick math, we’re looking at about 36 mpg. Next to the Tucson Hybrid’s competition like the Ford Escape Hybrid, Honda CR-V Hybrid, and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, 36 mpg is competitive. Hyundai also claims 500 miles of range on a single tank of gas. The transmission used here will be a 6-speed automatic, and all-wheel drive is standard.

The gasoline/electric Plug-in Hybrid…

The Plug-in Hybrid Tucson uses a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine combined with a larger electric motor to make 261 total horsepower. It also uses a 6-speed automatic transmission, and comes standard with all-wheel drive. It uses a larger battery than the regular Hybrid, with an electric-only driving range of 28 miles on a full charge. Once depleted, the Plug-in Hybrid Tucson will operate like a standard hybrid. Hyundai says that, when factoring in the electric-only range, the Plug-in Hybrid will get over 70 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe). If you have access to a level 2 charger (like most public charging stations), the battery can be fully recharged in less than two hours. At home, installing level 2 charging capabilities would require some electrical upgrades. Level 1 charging, which uses a conventional three-prong household outlet, will be considerably slower. Hyundai hasn’t provided estimated level 1 recharging times.

Compared to other plug-in hybrid crossovers, the Tucson’s figures are less competitive. The Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid will get 100 MPGe, with 37 miles of electric-only range, and the Toyota RAV4 Prime delivers 94 MPGe with 42 miles of driving on electricity alone. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV returns 74 MPGe, but with only 22 miles of electric range. But if Hyundai prices the Tucson Plug-in Hybrid competitively, these might become reasonable tradeoffs.

Plug-in hybrids can make for excellent family vehicles, in my opinion. The types of short trips that parents often make ferrying kids around are normally well within the limits of the range of their batteries. Keep the charge topped up between trips, you could do most errand-running without using any gasoline. And, no range anxiety here – you have the hybrid powertrain when needed for longer jaunts. Offering the Tucson as a Plug-in Hybrid is a smart move.

2022 Hyundai Tucson: Cool Features

Beyond styling, the interior, and a range of powertrain choices, the 2022 Hyundai Tucson also has some unique features that, even if not class-exclusive, may set it apart from competitors.

Smaht Pahk…

You may remember Hyundai’s popular “Smaht Pahk” commercial from last year’s Super Bowl. On the 2022 Hyundai Tucson Limited, Smart Park will be standard. From outside the vehicle, you can press a button on the key fob to either park or remove the Tucson from a tight parking space. Sensors make sure the vehicle doesn’t hit anything, or anyone.

Personally, I shudder at the door dings that would result from wedging your expensive new automobile between two poorly parked cars. If you’re parking so close to a neighboring vehicle that you wouldn’t be able to get out, I’m not sure that the owner of that vehicle would be especially pleased with you – whether they were the crappy parker in the first place, or not. But, I could see this feature being useful if you have a tight garage at home. Otherwise, it’s at least a cool party trick.

2022 Hyundai Tucson front seat detail
Image courtesy of Hyundai

Digital Key…

Through a smartphone app, some trims of the Tucson will be capable of using Hyundai’s Digital Key. It allows your phone to be your key to unlock, lock, and start the vehicle. Physical keys need not be present. At the moment, this functionality is limited to the Android operating system – finally giving Android smartphones an advantage over iPhones. Oh snap!

Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay…

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a great addition. In other vehicles, before you can integrate your smartphone’s navigation or music streaming apps with your car’s touchscreen, you have to plug your phone into one of the car’s USB ports. This requirement of a wired connection means you’d often have to take your phone out of your pocket or bag before every trip. And since your phone would already be charging the old fashioned way, the increasingly common built-in wireless charging pads are often superfluous or a waste of interior storage space.

2022 Hyundai Tucson infotainment detail
Image courtesy of Hyundai

Adding wireless integration for this functionality makes it far more useful. There’s no requirement to get your phone out in order to pair compatible apps with the car’s touchscreen. And if you need to charge your phone, drop it onto the wireless charging pad. No more charging cables cluttering up your car’s interior.

2022 Hyundai Tucson wireless charging detail
Image courtesy of Hyundai

Interestingly, it looks like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard across the Tucson range, but wireless integration is standard on all trims except for the top-of-the-line Limited. And wireless phone charging will be optional on the SEL and Blue trims, but standard for the N Line and Limited.

Hyundai Blue Link…

The Blue Link Connected Car system is a handy feature. It provides remote start ability, locking and unlocking the doors remotely, and stolen vehicle recovery functionality. If you leave your Tucson’s windows down or your doors unlocked, the system will notify you. Blue Link is controlled by a smartphone app, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant. It’s standard on all trims except for the SE, where it is unavailable.

2022 Hyundai Tucson dashboard
Image courtesy of Hyundai

Advanced safety technology…

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson will have a wide array of advanced safety tech. Forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and lane keeping assist with lane centering are standard on all trim levels. Also standard is a driver attention warning system. Using sensors, it will sound a warning if the driver appears distracted or drowsy.

On SEL trims and up, the forward collision warning system adds cyclist detection, plus a warning and automatic braking if you’re making a left at an intersection and there’s an oncoming vehicle approaching. Also included is a blind spot warning system with collision avoidance. Beyond warning you when you may be about to change lanes into an adjacent vehicle, this system can also steer and brake to avoid the accident. Also included is rear cross traffic alert with automatic emergency braking. These trims also add adaptive cruise control.

2022 Hyundai Tucson wheel detail
Image courtesy of Hyundai

Tucson Limited trims add a 360-degree camera system, along with cameras that display the vehicle’s blind spots in the instrument panel when the turn signals are used. The Limited also adds a highway drive assist system, which uses the Tucson’s navigation system, lane keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control to keep the vehicle positioned properly in the lane at a safe following distance from vehicles ahead, while following posted speed limits on highways.

While not a sexy topic, I’m a big fan of these safety technologies and I commend Hyundai for making them widely available on the new Tucson. Check out this blog post if you’d like to learn more about these advanced driver assistance systems.

Warranty and maintenance…

No discussion of a Hyundai vehicle is complete without talking about the warranty. It remains one of the best in the industry, with bumper-to-bumper coverage for 5 years or 60,000 miles, and powertrain coverage for 10 years or 100,000 miles. An additional pot sweetener is complimentary maintenance. For 3 years or 36,000 miles, your oil changes and tire rotations are free.

2022 Hyundai Tucson dashboard detail
Image courtesy of Hyundai

In Conclusion…

In the compact crossover segment, consumers are swamped with choices with practical appeal, being comfortable, competent, and useful. I’m confident that Hyundai’s new Tucson will be all of these things, but Hyundai knows this won’t be enough to stand out in such a crowded and highly competitive class. So they gave it sharp and distinctive styling, a gorgeous interior, several powertrain options, packed it with cool and convenient features, and added lots of advanced safety technology. In doing so, beyond practical considerations, Hyundai created a new Tucson that can appeal to a customer’s emotional wants and needs, too. I think it’s an absolute standout.

Thank you so much for reading! But I’m curious – what do you think about the new 2022 Hyundai Tucson? Do you like the way it looks, or is it too funky for you? Or, are you an angry Android user, offended by my earlier dig? Comment below and let me know. I want to hear what you have to say!

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