As we move to a brave new electrified automotive industry, hybrid vehicles have an important place to ease the transition and add new appealing and fuel-efficient choices for many popular vehicle lineups. While some brands have helped pave the way for hybrid vehicles decades ago, Hyundai has gained traction in the past few years with vehicles like the redesigned 2022 Tucson compact crossover, which is now offered in a new hybrid trim alongside of a plug-in hybrid offering.
In driving the new Hyundai Tucson Hybrid this week, I put on a new face to pay special attention to how the hybrid system of the Tucson operates, what fuel mileage I get, and how it competes with direct competition. To my surprise, the latest hybrid system in the Tucson Limited Hybrid is the smoothest for transitioning its power from the electric motor to the gas engine I’ve ever experienced in driving countless hybrid vehicles through a span of over 15 years.
The 2022 Hyundai Tucson Limited Hybrid is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that puts out 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque on its own but is joined by an electric motor good for 59 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, which when combined with the turbocharged gas engine the system has a total of 227 horsepower and the same 195 lb-ft of torque. That power feels substantial in most situations and scoots the Tucson along pretty well, especially off of the line thanks to the instant torque from the electric motor. The 270-volt battery back is smartly managed by a rather clever and proactive power management system that keeps it charged at decent levels for optimal use. Electric motor power is solely used at times even when traveling at highway speeds to often maintain a steady speed to accomplish the EPA-estimated 36 mpg on the highway. Around the city, the system behaves similarly to that of Toyota’s latest hybrid systems but feels even smoother in its power transitions. There’s the odd use of a 6-speed automatic transmission that sometimes shifts rather slowly and may be the weakest link for the Tucson Hybrid’s performance considering gas-powered non-hybrid Tucsons utilize a better 8-speed automatic for both of its powertrain offerings. All Tucson hybrids utilize the HTRAC all-wheel-drive system, which helps to keep the Tucson Hybrid get off of the line quickly without drama and unwanted wheel spin from its front-wheel-drive biased setup.
Zero to 60 mph is respectable for the Tucson taking about 7.4 seconds in my best test. Overall, the initial acceleration is very strong and gives some confidence when jumping out in traffic. The way the Tucson handles is somewhat deceptive but proves to provide a decent ride quality and smoothness out on the road. The only issue I have with the ride is the rear suspension is overly bouncy when going over medium to large undulations and rising bumps. The bounciness is almost unsettling if you’re moving near highway speeds.
The regenerative braking is rather efficient for charging up the battery and doesn’t upset the brake pedal feel and transition to the friction brakes grabbing. In all, the new Tucson Hybrid’s transitions are excellent, as I have said earlier – the best for a mainstream hybrid vehicle that I’ve experienced.
The information provided for the hybrid system, mostly through the Tucson Limited Hybrid’s 10-inch digital gauge cluster, gives you just enough data to drive with a soft touch in utilizing the hybrid system to save fuel and make the best use of the reserved battery power at times. Inside the Tucson Limited Hybrid’s cabin is a long list of welcomed features and a few premium conveniences that make the interior an inviting place. The main drawback here that I find is that the otherwise excellent infotainment system fed through a 10.25-inch touchscreen is accompanied by a large lower panel of touch capacitive buttons that can be a bit distracting. The physically integrated design looks great but having touch capacitive buttons for commonly used items like the volume control, automatic dual-zone climate control, and main infotainment functions is a hassle to focus on and assure that your finger hits the right area. A volume knob would have helped here, Hyundai. The infotainment system is surprisingly good apart from the touch capacitive buttons. The 10-inch screen is bright and clear, and the latest menus of the system are user-friendly with only a short learning curve. The integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is always a welcomed addition but oddly enough, wireless integration of both is not available on the top Limited Hybrid trim but comes standard on the lower Blue and SEL Convenience hybrid trims.
The many welcomed premium amenities include heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, the 10-inch digital gauge cluster, 8-way power driver’s and from passenger’s seat with power lumbar, memory driver’s seat, surround-view monitor (360-degree backup camera) system, panoramic power sliding sunroof w/a power slide sunshade, and a plethora of active safety features including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors w/blind-spot view monitor (live video of your blind spot when signaling displayed in the gauge cluster), lane-keeping/following assist, safe exit warning, rear occupant alert, and a trick remote smart park assist that can move the vehicle forward or reverse from your key fob to “smart park” it.
Another trick of the new 2022 Hyundai Tucson Limited Hybrid is the smart use of its interior space and unique soft-touch dashboard and upper door trim areas with the inclusion of padded cloth fabric for surrounding dashboard trim. Just above the trim where it appears to be a long-running vents between the actual vents are small recessed holes that feed a subtle stream of air from the air conditioner. The seating areas are comfy and have plentiful space up front. Out back, the seating area is decent as well and the split 60/40 folding seatback with adjustable recline can open the standard cargo area with the seatbacks in place of about 38.8 cubic feet to as much as 74.5 cubic feet when you fold the backs down, which is slightly more than something like the Toyota RAV4 hybrid.
The 2022 Hyundai Tucson Limited Hybrid, sporting its unique looks and LED-lit front outer grille areas, is quite a force to reckon with in its segment. Other than the EPA fuel estimates not being as high as I would expect at 37 mpg city, 36 mpg highway, and 37 mpg combined, the Hyundai Tucson Limited Hybrid is an extremely versatile attractive package. I saw a steady 34.8 mpg when pushing the Tucson Limited Hybrid hard with a mix of city and highway driving. The best I was able to muster was 41 mpg over a decent 22-mile trip on back rural roads never going over 60 mph. The styling combined with unique lighting elements in the front and out back along with 19-inch wheels, is not mistaken for anything else, which can be a good thing.
Hyundai has done their homework in not only building a complete compact crossover package but one that makes the best use of a refined hybrid system that can hit its EPA fuel mileage estimates in the real world, most times. Possibly the only other thing that I scratch my head over is the price increase for the Limited Tucson Hybrid trim over the other lower trims with them starting at $29,050 for the base Blue Tucson Hybrid trim and $31,650 for the SEL Convenience Tucson Hybrid trim. Moving to my top-trimmed Tucson Limited Hybrid test vehicle you’re going to be looking at a price of at least $37,350 before any added fees – but, is slightly lower than a comparable Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and the top trim includes all of the premium amenities and features that I mentioned.