Small doesn't necessarily equal compromise as evidenced with the smart-looking, all-new fourth-generation Hyundai Tucson compact five-door crossover.
As with just about every Hyundai offering expect competitive pricing, an industry-leading powertrain warranty and a newly introduced extended complimentary maintenance program helping to keep new purchases in tip-top shape while saving a buck or two.
This compact crossover category ranks as the industry's most-popular segment these days. Tucson's next-gen '22 redo offers just about every aspect a new-car shopper desires and reflects a worthy pick. Tucson's first generation arrived in back in 2005.
Tucson's for 2022 sold in U.S. and Canadian markets build upon a stretched global platform unavailable in other corners of the globe. Compared to the outgoing 2021 variant, this next-generation measures a solid 6.1 inches longer in length with a wheelbase (distance between front and rear axles) adding 3.4 inches. It's built with uni-body construction found in most cars and on-road intended vehicles. Front-wheel drive comes standard with 50/50 torque-split all-wheel drive optional.
Hyundai includes a slew of five-door crossovers throughout its U.S. lineup, but Tucson by far is the best-selling ranking as the South Korean automaker's top-producing vehicle in the 2020 Pandemic Plagued calendar year with 123,675 units sold.
Tucson slots above both the subcompact Venue crossover introduced in the 2020 model year and Kona arriving in 2018. The mid-sized Santa Fe (with a starting price $2,000 higher than Tucson's) measures one step up in size.
It's propelled three ways depending upon one's technological comfort level. A conventional gasoline engine provides 187 horsepower thanks to an onboard 2.5-liter four-cylinder, naturally aspirated (non-turbocharged) gas-direct-injection engine and connects with a pleasant-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. Engine start/stop is standard, quieting the engine at prolonged stops before waking back to life when lifting the right foot off the brake pedal.
Expect above-average gas mileage in front-drive editions with EPA estimates at 26 miles per gallon city and 33 mpg highway. All-wheel drive drops each category down a couple notches. The fuel tank holds 14.3 gallons of unleaded regular fuel.
Horsepower jumps 16 percent from the 2021 base four banger providing adequate, but un-thrilling horsepower results. However, when taken as a whole, this segment prioritizes value-pricing rather than thrill-seeking and the ride itself remains pleasant and quieter thanks to a triple-pane windshield and other sound-deadening additions.
The 2022 model year ushers Tucson into the electric age two ways with a self-charging gas-electric hybrid (HEV) and a plug-in electric hybrid (PHEV) combining a short all-electric driving range and a gas engine taking charge when needed. The twin hybrid models are slated to go on sale in the fall of 2021.
Hyundai dropped of a gas-exclusive 'Limited' variant for testing. It's one four trim levels: (joining SE, SEL, and sporty N-Line) each building upon the level below with additional standard content. Only SEL offers factory option packages.
Hyundai's in-house research reveals that 93 percent of small crossover owners rate safety 'extremely important' or 'very important.' To that end, all Tucson's include a half-dozen radar-inspired technologies standard in all trims including lane keep assist, rear occupant alert, lane follow assist, forward collision warning assist, auto high beam and driver attention warning. Many of these were the purview of high-end luxury cars a decade and a half ago. Top Limited trims offer a smattering of additional safety tech standard including front/rear park distance warning and surround-view in-dash monitor.
Pricing points starts at $24,950 for a front-drive SE, about $1,300 higher than a 2021 base Tucson. A front-drive Limited starts at $34,700 with just about every from-the-factory feature available; our Limited tester included ' HTRAC' (Hyundai's in-house AWD branding) for a $36,100 starting point. With $169 for floor mats and $1,185 destination charge, the bottom line ended at $37,454, representing the most opulent version currently available.
The very stylish exterior includes eye-popping swaths depending upon which perspective one views the vehicle. Lots of creases and lines adorn all sides. The hood includes a pair of vertical speed lines down the middle with curved nuances at the outside ends directing eyes to the huge grille (black chrome inserts come standard in Limited). Below side view mirrors is triangular-shape creasing with the nose pointing rearward to a character line reaching back to the wrap-around tail lamps.
Our Limited trim featured chrome accents above narrow side windows contrasting with body color and squared wheel well frames with black cladding for an extra protection layer against unwanted stone dings. Light emitting diode (LED) headlights come standard up front and the rear hatch includes a long light string running the horizontal length.
Compact-sized crossovers like Tucson measure favorably, matching dimensions traditional mid-sized crossovers offered a decade ago. Row two includes enough elbow room for three adults. Cargo room grows behind row two by 7.7 cubic feet, now reaching a spacious 38.7, besting competitors including Toyota's RAV-4 and the Ford Escape. Backrests manually fold down with a 60/40 spilt in all trims.
Tucson borrows a page from its luxury Genesis division with similar ambient interior lighting, providing a touch-of-elegance. Even base models carry a premium attitude. Our Limited's extra-large 10.25-inch all-digital instrument cluster goes brimless, creating a streamlined dashboard top side. Two animated, circular, grey-background circular dials illuminate tachometer readings (left) and speedometer (right). A 4.2-inch multi-paneled center window includes information factoids selectable via a right-side steering wheel toggle button.
The Limited's blind-spot view monitor provides a crisp real-time video feed of pesky out-of-sight regions directly into the digital instrument cluster when activating turn signal blinkers. The video temporarily overrides either the tach or speedometer circle (depending upon the side where merging) and illuminates not just vehicles, but also potential bicyclists darting nearby. Just wish this was available in more trims.
A push-button electronic gear selector between front buckets is adjacent to in-line beverage holders and includes an inline design with large, chrome-like, depressible R, N and D buttons with P conveniently off to the left side. A circular, electronic push-button start resides on the dash right of the steering column.
The power rear hatch opens hands-free when desired upper trims. The rear windshield wiper cloaks under the spoiler, out of site and swiping down when precipitation arrives. The spoiler also houses a high-mounted brake light.
Popular Apple Car Play and Android Auto Smartphone connectivity come standard, seamlessly teaming with a sizeable 10.25-inch in-dash flat screen in Limited trims. An eight-inch variety with tactile buttons adorns other trims. Top-trim Limited trims include built-in navigation software with intuitive graphics. Bluetooth voice command controls come standard across the board.
Touch-sensitivity is required to monitor volume and station pre-sets changes in Limited trims. Pressure pushes also exist for the HVAC system's screen directly below. In fact, both systems seamlessly join together as one giant smooth screen surface; a sleek visual, at the expense of convenient knobs. While artistically serene, too much sight time gets devoted to looking at the screen when eyes should be front and center on the road ahead.
Greatly appreciated is a super-sized push plate conveniently located left of the steering column on the dash signaling the power rear hatch to open up. No searching frantically for a tiny release button hidden on dash or even the floor.
Another added value when considering a Tucson specifically or Hyundai's in general; an industry leading 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, one of the longest-durations offered; a no-charge peace-of-mind helping Tucson stand apart in a crowded segment.
The South Korean automaker builds upon this stress-reducing warranty when it introduced basic maintenance coverage in early 2020. Tucson's three-year/36,000-mile 'Complimentary Maintenance' covers periodic oil/filter changes and tire rotation (among other basic nuances) for added savings. 2022 Hyundai Tucson
Price as tested: $37,454
Engine: 2.5-liter four cylinder
Wheelbase: 108.5 inches
Overall length: 182.3 inches
Overall width: 73.4 inches
Overall height: 65.6 inches
Curb weight: 3,651pounds
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg city/ 29 mpg highway
Powertrain warranty: 10-year/100,000 mile
Assembly: Montgomery, Alabama