By Frank S. Washington
TUCSON, AZ — Bigger does not necessarily mean better. But that was not the case with the 2022 Hyundai Tucson.
The compact crossover was six and half inches longer, a half inch wider, a half inch taller and the wheelbase was longer by more than three inches. That equated to more cargo space and more cubic feet of passenger space.
They’ve made both visual and physical alteration to the 2022 Hyundai Tucson to pull it upmarket. It goes on sale this summer.
Longer wheelbases have a direct impact on ride and handling. For the new Tucson, that meant it handled the rough roads here smoothly. Not a lot of road noise got into the cabin, nor did the small depressions and divots knock us off course.
The sheet metal was all new. Designers employed what they called ‘Parametric Dynamics.’ It was jewel like surfaces. They put daytime running lights that were only visible when illuminated and they were seamless with the parametric grille.
There was a long hood, a level roof line, and short overhangs. Tucson styling was a very subtle form of edge design and it made the compact crossover look like it was moving forward while standing still.
There was a chrome line starting at the side mirrors and it followed the arc of the roofline and increased in width until it reached the C pillar.
Of course, the design theme carried to the rear. There were full-width taillights that embraced the half concealed triangular shape that were visible when illuminated like the DRLs in front.
The press material said the Tucson’s interior had ambient lighting. It is adjustable and offers 64 colors that have 10 levels of brightness. We could not see it because our test drive occurred in the morning under a bright sun.
There was a broad ridge that went across the dash and blended into the doors. The interior had a 10.25-inch touch infotainment screen that was buttonless. It was narrow and that made it look wider. All the controls like climate, audio volume, the navigation system, were touch.
The gauge cluster was hoodless. This opened a space that is normally closed and dark in other vehicles. And on a sunny day, the illumination did not distract from the screen. The instrumentation was digital.
And the climate controls diffused airflow on the front passengers. We don’t particularly care for air conditioning blowing through the vents, more or less, assaulting us. But in the 2022 Tucson it was different, the airflow was softer even at full blast.
The second-row seats folded flat creating an even-floored cargo space.
Only the long wheelbase version of the new Tucson will be sold in the U.S.
The 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine has been tweaked to produce six more horsepower and three more pound-feet of torque; 187 ponies and 178 pound-feet. But where it excels is combined mileage. It gets three more combined miles per gallon than the old model and that can save a decent dollar in fuel costs. This engine was mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The front-wheel drive version gets 26 miles per gallon in the city, 33 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg combined. The all-wheel drive version gets 24 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined.
There was a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid here as well. Both were be powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that made 177 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque.
Combined with the electric motor and battery pack, the hybrid system made 226 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. What is particularly interesting is that rather than use a continuously variable transmission, the hybrid 2022 Tucson and the plug-in hybrid used a six-speed automatic transmission.
Hyundai said its hybrid system is 30 percent more fuel efficient than the gasoline engine with 20 percent more torque. It also had more pep than the gasoline engine.
For the plug-in, Hyundai has employed a high output 1.6-liter turbo, direct injected engine. It too had a six-speed automatic transmission. But it had a larger battery than the hybrid with 13.8 kWh of power that gave it an all-electric range of 28 miles and estimated fuel economy of 70 MPGe.
The hybrid models feature what Hyundai called e-handling technology. It applies electric motor torque control. The system uses incremental braking force to the front wheels, increasing their tire contact patch on the road for enhanced traction and steering response for better cornering.
We could not sense any difference between the gasoline powered Tucson and its hybrid cousin. They both handled the curves and abrupt swells in the roads here like Kolb Road, Sunrise Drive and Webb Road. Ironically, the hybrid was more powerful and a spunkier drive.
The 2022 Hyundai Tucson can be equipped with remote park assist that allows a driver to park and retrieve it without being in it.
Remote start that will heat and ventilate the front seats, a digital key that can be employed with a smartphone, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all part of an upgrade in offerings.
It had what’s becoming standard safety features: lane keeping assist, automatic high beams, driver attention warning and rear occupant alert.
All that was standard equipment. Optional stuff included blind spot collision-avoidance assists, rear cross traffic collision with avoidance assist, safe exit warning, smart cruise control with stop and go, and remote smart parking assist.
The 2022 Hyundai Tucson can also be equipped with highway driving assist that helps the driver keep the vehicle in the center of the lane.
Of course, the Tucson had connectives including satellite radio, voice controls, the navigation system had split screen functionality, and there was a premium audio system.
The Blue Link app system is available on the 2022 Hyundai Tucson. It is complimentary for three years. It has features like remote start, remote door unlock, stolen vehicle recovery and destination search by voice are a few tasks that it can handle.
As for pricing, there is a full spread. The 2022 Hyundai Tucson front-wheel drive SF starts at $24,950, while the Tucson HEV all-wheel drive starts at $37,350. There is a bevy of models and trim lines between them.