- Expressive exterior styling
- Interior execution
- Cabin room
- Expressive exterior styling
- The 2.5-liter powertrain
- Touch-sensitive controls
The new-generation Hyundai Tucson has two big problems, and they’re named the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Despite neither competing for 2022’s SUV of the Year, the big dogs loom large in the compact crossover segment where the Tucson plays. As a result, the redesigned Korean had its work cut out for it—especially now that both of its Japanese rivals offer hybrid variants.
The Tucson offers a hybrid, too, and as far as we’re concerned, it’s the model to get. “The hybrid’s the better Tucson here,” senior editor Greg Fink said. “It sounds better, and its 1.6 turbo and electric motor offer sufficient power and low-end torque.” Other judges were impressed with the Tucson Hybrid’s ability to get off the line under electric power only and the powertrain’s overall operation. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same of the Tucson’s base 2.5-liter inline-four and eight-speed auto, a combination judges criticized repeatedly as underpowered and unrefined.
“This engine is barely adequate,” guest judge Gordon Dickie said of the 2.5-liter. “If I were buying a Tucson, I would not consider this powertrain but would instead opt for the pretty excellent hybrid.”
Ride- and handling-wise, the Tucson proved capable enough, and it managed the tougher part of the off-road section with relative ease, though editors found some fault with how it performed over the test track’s harsher pavement imperfections.
One thing the Tucson has going for it over the CR-V and RAV4 is its expressive exterior styling, though it cuts both ways with our judges. Most really liked the Tucson’s aggressive front end, but some thought its flanks were too busy and sloppy. Whether you love or hate how it looks, you’re going to notice it (probably a good thing in such a crowded segment), and we leaned toward appreciating its extroverted appearance.
Praise was far more unanimous for the cabin, with editors showing love for the cargo area’s size, the copious legroom in the rear seats, and generous stowage areas. It also scores high marks for its infotainment- and instrument-panel layout, but the touch-sensitive controls received a few strikes.
“First impressions of this interior are great. It seems very avant garde, interesting, and unique,” technical director Frank Markus said. “I like the diffuse air vents and the all-digital gauge cluster. The perforated seats look high-end, and I appreciate their ventilation.”
While there was a lot to like about the Tucson, there simply wasn’t enough in its overall package to move it past its formidable competition, and by extension we couldn’t move it on to the final round.
Associate guide editor Alex Leanse summed it up well: “Fully loaded for quite a bit less than $40,000, the Tucson offers a lot—a digital gauge display, perforated leather upholstery, and numerous driver aids among other features that make it a tempting value. But wild styling and great value aside, there isn’t much about the Tucson that advances the state of compact SUVs.”
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