Why The 2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Is The Perfect SUV

Opinion / 14 Comments

Well, almost. There's only one small detail we hate about it.

In a world where new electric vehicles dominate headlines, there's still a place for frugal hybrid vehicles for buyers who aren't quite ready to make the EV leap. Of the ones we've sampled recently, the 2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid jumps off the page as possibly the best overall option. In fact, we'd go so far to say the Tuscon is now the vehicle to beat in the highly-competitive compact crossover segment that also includes the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4.

We recently spent a week driving the Tucson Hybrid in its fully-loaded Limited trim, and we came away struggling to find any flaws. This is a perfect crossover for most buyers, but we did discover one optional feature that we hated.

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Eye-Catching Design

It's hard to make a crossover look exciting, but Hyundai's designers worked overtime to give the Tucson tons of unique styling elements. The interesting design begins up front with the Tucson's Parametric Hidden Lights that disappear behind the grille when the vehicle is off. Other eye-catching styling elements include angular surfaces on the doors, chrome side strips, connected rear taillights, and obscured rear windshield wiper. Not everyone will love the Tucson's angular design, but you can't say it looks boring.

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Upmarket Interior

Inside, the Tucson's interior is less flashy than the exterior, but it feels remarkably premium, especially when you consider the $37,650 starting price of the Limited Hybrid model. It's less expensive than a comparable RAV4 Hybrid but includes even more standard features. For less than $40,000, the Tucson Limited packs a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, digital instrument cluster, panoramic glass roof, heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, surround-view camera, Bose premium audio, and ever safety feature you could ask for in 2022. The Tucson Limited feels like a luxury car you can buy for mainstream money.

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Powerful & Frugal Drivetrain

Of the drivetrains offered in the Tucson, the hybrid seems like the most well-rounded option. It pairs a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a six-speed automatic going out to standard HTRAC all-wheel-drive. This powertrain develops 226 total system horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, which is significantly more than the gas-only model (187 hp and 178 lb-ft). Not only is it quicker and more powerful, but the hybrid achieves better fuel economy (37/36/37 mpg city/highway/combined compared to 26/33/29 mpg).

We look forward to driving the Tucson Plug-In Hybrid later this year. It uses the same setup as the standard hybrid with a larger battery, producing 265 hp and enabling a 33-mile EV-only range.

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Class-Leading Space

If you're buying a crossover for space, the Tucson will not disappoint. Hyundai only offers the long-wheelbase model in the US, meaning front and rear legroom far exceed what's offered elsewhere in the compact class. Those rear seats even recline to give passengers additional comfort. As for the cargo area, the Tucson has 41.3 cubic feet of space behind the second row. That space opens to a whopping 80 cubic feet with the seats folded, which can be done from the second row or the cargo area. Nothing else in this segment offers nearly as much space.

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Need To Fix: Touch Buttons

While the Tucson is nearly perfect, there is one feature we simply can't stand; the touch-capacitive buttons. Opting for the upper trim Tucson models with the larger 10.25-inch display replaces the physical climate controls for a piano black panel with touch-sensitive zones. This panel is distracting to use, beeps with every press, and attracts fingerprints/dust instantly. We'd much rather have simple nobs for functions like the volume, radio turning, and temperature controls.

Lower trim Tucson models have normal climate controls and the smaller eight-inch screen gets a more conventional volume scroll nob. Plus, the smaller screen gets wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, whereas the larger screen requires a cord. This one feature might prevent us from recommending what is otherwise a perfect crossover.

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