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2022 Hyundai Tucson: new, bold, worthy

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson.

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson, the debut of the small sport utility’s fourth generation, is the South Korean manufacturer’s finest effort to compete against the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. It’s a worthy challenger.

Unheralded and 13th in small SUV sales in 2021, this year’s Tucson has been redesigned with a sculptor’s bold ideas. It has squared wheel arches, sharp bodywork creases, a radical headlight design and a snarky-looking front grille.

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson is newly designed inside and outside for the debut of its fourth generation.
The 2022 Hyundai Tucson is newly designed inside and outside for the debut of its fourth generation.

More important, the Tucson for the first time is available in three powertrains, a gasoline engine, a standard hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. The latter has a maximum 28-mile electric-only range; the standard hybrid is rated at 37 miles per gallon in city driving, 36 mpg on the highway.

Seven trims levels are offered within the three engine varieties. Four trim levels — SE, SEL, N Line and Limited — feature the conventional gasoline engine. The hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) are offered in three trims: Blue Hybrid, SEL Convenience Hybrid and Limited Hybrid.

While the standard gasoline engine is offered with front- or all-wheel drive and uses an eight-speed automatic, the hybrids come standard with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission.

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson has a clean, no-nonsense interior design and efficient technology systems.
The 2022 Hyundai Tucson has a clean, no-nonsense interior design and efficient technology systems.

Besides its signature 10-year/100-mile powertrain and 5-year/60,000-miles bump-to-bumper warranty, Hyundai also shines with its substantial standard features list. The reviewed hybrid Limited Hybrid is powered by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine with 227 total horsepower. It’s equipped similarly to the SEL gasoline option.

Keeping in mind the Tucson fully equipped costs about $38,000 ($7,000 less than the average price of a new car in the United States), the Hyundai hybrid is among the country’s best-valued vehicles.

Consider some of the features: proximity keyless entry with push-button start, power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, rear passenger vents, heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals and tinted rear windows. There are two USB outlets for rear passengers, a blind-spot monitor, blind-spot intervention and adaptive cruise control.

A unique wheel design is part of the sharp-angled, modern-edged exterior design of the 2022 Hyundai Tucson.
A unique wheel design is part of the sharp-angled, modern-edged exterior design of the 2022 Hyundai Tucson.

A host of other items aren’t all offered on far-more expensive SUVs and sedans. A wireless device charging pad, ambient interior lighting, a Bose premium audio system, panoramic sunroof, a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen with navigation and a surround-view camera system are all included.

The Hyundai Tucson is categorized as a small SUV, but it has 38.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats. With the rear seats folded, the cargo area expands to 74.8 cubic feet. The low liftover and flat floor add to the convenience. Large, easy-to-enter and exit doors add to the SUV’s spacious feel.

Hybrid SUVs, including the Tucson, often get criticized for sluggish acceleration. It’s rated at 7.7 seconds for advancing from 0-to-60 miles per hour. But the new-look Hyundai drives with a solid feel, astute steering and confident maneuvering through traffic. Its standard-acceleration-test status seems too conservative.

The Hyundai Tucson is quicker than the segment’s best-selling RAV4 and CR-V. The Hyundai’s athletic personality further adds to the fun, a surprise considering its standard six-speed transmission.

Technology features are another Hyundai strength. Navigation menus are straightforward, screen quality is top-notch and using Apple CarPlay or Bluetooth features are intuitive. Voice activation for directions and changing audio functions is a keen convenience.

One inconvenience is increasingly becoming an annoying industry standard. While safety is paramount, the lane-keeping and parking sensors are overly sensitive. It’s a fine line between worthy safety alerts and alarming warning beeps that could prove detrimental.

About two dozen small 2022 SUVs are currently available in the U.S. With its new generation and strong attributes — overall driving, fuel economy and warranty — the Hyundai Tucson is among the smartest choices. The Hybrid options particularly impress.

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