TUCSON, Ariz — Just when I think Hyundai vehicles can’t get any better, the automaker ups the ante with another great vehicle. This time around it’s the all-new 2022 Hyundai Tucson with a radical design and really cool tech features – all for an affordable price.
When I first saw the new Tucson back in November, I was impressed with the design, and I figured if the ride and handling were as good as its looks, Hyundai would have another winner.
So, let’s dive right into the driving experience. At launch the 2022 Tucson comes with two powertrains – one is a gasoline model and the other is a hybrid.
The gas model comes equipped with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers 187 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. While this might seem underpowered for an SUV, it really isn’t. It’s tuned well to provide decent off-the-line starts as well as nice acceleration in passing maneuvers on the highway.
One thing I did notice, however, is that in Sport mode, the RPMs revved a little too high for a little too long – especially for an SUV. It was loud and whiney, and probably could have dropped back to regular RPMs after 3 seconds with no gas input rather than waiting 5 or 6 seconds.
The hybrid has the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and adds 39 horsepower and 17 pound-feet of torque. This is a nice little boost over power over the base gasoline powertrain.
The Tucson hybrid system is one of the better iterations Hyundai has pushed out, and the transition between gasoline and hybrid modes is pretty seamless.
The steering is generally what you’d expect from a compact SUV, with a nice amount of responsiveness thrown in. The ride itself is quiet and smooth – and I say that with about an hour of wash-board roads under my belt.
We did a dirt and gravel road segment in the morning, which was filled with large stones and lots of ruts. While you did feel the rough-hewn surfaces, it wasn’t a give-you-a-headache rattle, and you could comfortably travel at about 35 – 40 mph in most areas without difficulty.
A lot of compact SUVs are settling into a sea of sameness, and more often than not, when I post a photo of whatever vehicle I’m driving on social, my followers immediately compare it to something else, making up mish-mash names like Pali-Rover-Ento.
They couldn’t do that with the new Tucson. Nothing else compares with its “parametric” (that’s Hyundai-speak) lines and polarizing daytime running lights.
I love it.
The interior is just as refreshing as the exterior with clean lines, up-level materials and intuitive technology.
We were driving top-tier Limited trims during the first drive, so we had access to the Blind View Monitor, digital display, 10.25-inch center stack screen and navigation. In addition to being a visual delight, all the items worked the way they were supposed to. Yeah, that should be a given on a new car, but trust me, it doesn’t always happen that way.
There are two things on the 2022 Tucson that aren’t immediately obvious but are cool nonetheless.
First is the clock adjustment. If you live in a daylight savings area, that twice-a-year-hunt for the clock adjustment can be a pain in the tush. I know most vehicles are tied to GPS and change automatically these days, but if you’re in a place like Arizona that doesn’t observe daylight savings, it’s still a problem. In fact, the car I was driving had 500 miles on it and was from California, so the clock was an hour off. It was driving me crazy. Thus, I set out to figure out how to change the time, and it was (gasp) easy.
Rather than being buried in the settings, all you had to do was click on the actual time. That brings up the settings, and you can adjust for daylight savings or lack thereof. How logical.
Second, you’re not tied to having your digital cluster mirror your drive-mode settings. I mean, you can do that, and it looks good, but you can also customize the display with four different design themes that stay the same regardless of drive mode.
Let me begin with: I loved the Tucson, and I don’t think anything that follows is truly a dealbreaker. But there are usually going to be a few things on every vehicle you don’t like; the 2022 Tucson is no exception.
First and foremost: There are no knobs for the volume and audio tuning. Not a big deal for the driver, since there are redundant controls on the wheel, but definitely an annoyance if you prefer the tactile feel of flicking the dial for a quick up or down.
Next, if you’re an OCD type, there’s a lot of shiny black lacquer just waiting for fingerprints and dust. I’m not particularly bothered, but I know a lot of people out there will be.
This next item is a weird quirk on all new Hyundai and Kia vehicles that I hope they figure out soon. You can get wireless Apple CarPlay – but only on the base 8-inch screen. As soon as you upgrade to the digital display and 10.25-inch center screen, you go back in to a wired-in CarPlay system. Huh? That seems a bit backwards to me. I’d be all in favor of the smaller screen, but the problem is, that also means no Blind View Monitor either – the digital display and larger screen are a package deal.
Finally, the rear turn indicator is teeny-tiny and super low on the bumper. I find this to be an odd location, and potentially overlooked by vehicles traveling behind the Tucson.
The 2022 Tucson is offered in both front- and all-wheel-drive configurations throughout the trim lineup, and the base price, without destination fees, will be $24,950. AWD is a $1,600 add. The Limited trim with AWD tops out at $36,100 – and that’s with all the whistles and bells, no options available.
What I find really brilliant, however, is the fact the hybrid pricing doesn’t go crazy. Yes, it’s more expensive than the gasoline model. And, yes, the base model for the hybrid is about $4k more expensive than the base model of the gasoline version. But the top tier trim is just, $1,25 more than the topped-out gas model.
So, more horsepower and better fuel economy with all the goodies included? Oh, and it’s not that much more? Um, yeah. Why wouldn’t you get that if you were looking at the Limited trim?
Whenever I talk about Hyundai vehicles, there are a lot of people out there who still like to say: “But it’s a Hyundai.” My response: Get over it.
Seriously. In the 2022 Hyundai Tucson, you’ve got high-level tech like Smart Park, Blind View Monitor, Digital Key and an ultrasonic sensor that detects movement inside your car after you lock it – and sends you a text message – for less than $40k. This also includes things like a heated steering wheel, heated-and-cooled seats, dual automatic climate control, heated rear seats, standard safety tech, leather seats and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
Wait, you know what? If you can’t get over it, you deserve to spend twice as much for a lot less content. Have fun with that.
Editor’s note: Driving impressions in this “First Drive” review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Hyundai covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.