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2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid first drive review: Well rounded hybrid greatness

The Hyundai Tucson is new for 2022, and in addition to an updated gasoline version, there’s a hybrid and eventual plug-in hybrid on the way. We recently spent some time in Tucson, Arizona (get it, Tucson in Tucson) to see if the hybrid version is any good.

Powering the hybrid Tucson is a 1.6-liter turbo mated to a hybrid electric power system that generates a combined system output of 226 horsepower. It sends power to all four wheels via a 6-speed traditional automatic gearbox. Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system is standard on hybrid models.

In base Blue trim, that means an EPA rated 38/38/38 mpg for city, highway, and combined fuel economy. It drops off only slightly on higher trims.

Hyundai made the new Tucson bigger, with an additional 7.7 cubic feet of cargo space, and an additional 6 cubic feet of passenger volume. Most of that passenger volume is made up in the second row, where there is more legroom than ever and reclining seats to provide optimal comfort.

Our Limited trim test unit had heated and ventilated front seats (with heated outboard rear seats), remote Smart Park, Hyundai Digital Key (current Android OS only), and Hyundai’s latest infotainment software.

Unfortunately, wireless Apple Car Play and wireless Android Auto are limited to the base trim models, and not the upgraded larger infotainment screen.

Hyundai’s safety suite is excellent, with blind spot monitoring including the blind spot camera system, adaptive cruise with steering assist, autonomous emergency braking, and a whole bunch more.

But how does it all work? Very well.

At a price premium of $1,400 over a gas powered Tucson, the Hybrid model is the one to get. Not only was it easy to return 40 mpg in normal driving, but the powertrain calibration with the hybrid is just better.

It’s smooth taking off from a traffic light. It’s smooth in the shifting of the transmission, even when operating only on electricity (something that the Kia Niro doesn’t currently do particularly well). The steering is light without being too light, and more communicative than it needs to be.

To show off the HTRAC system, which is completely mechanical for the nerds out there, Hyundai sent us down some fire roads and tight trails. In Sport mode with the stability control fully off, the Tucson can take corners faster than it has any right doing.

Acceleration is brisk enough, even if the transmission is a bit slow to downshift, but entering a corner in a low grip scenario is predictable. Turn wheel, apply throttle, car starts to kick out the rear, apply lock, and then the all wheel drive takes care of the rest.

It’s no rally car, but it’s a lot closer to one than a Tucson should realistically be.

What this all means is that in inclement weather, the Tucson and it’s Michelin Primacy tires should give you the confidence to make it to your destination. It also means if you want to take the Tucson on a camping weekend, it’ll get you to most camping sites anywhere in the country.

The only thing we haven’t really touched on is the appearance. The waterfall front grille and daytime running lamps are unique, and are something we find quite attractive. It gives it a concept car look.

But, we’ve also talked to some people who don’t like how it looks. It’s definitely more polarizing than the previous Tucson, but it is a design people talk about.

Overall our first impressions are quite solid of the Tucson Hybrid. Our indicated 40 mpg is worth the price premium over the gasoline only version, and it drives well with a decent amount of interior space for people and things.

It starts at $30,235 for the Blue trim hybrid, including destination charges, and our maxed out Limited model was $38,535 with destination.

We look forward to soon spending more time in the Tucson, and getting to experience the plug-in hybrid variant, but our first experience with the Tucson was better than we expected, and don’t be surprised when you see them everywhere.

 

Written by Chad Kirchner
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