It’s a big year for all-new versions of established models, and the Hyundai nameplate makes a splash with the dramatic 2022 Tucson compact SUV.
The new Tucson’s sharp geometric angles and edges are like an artist’s flight of fancy, and to see them rendered in sheet metal is impressive. The front end mesmerizes with jewel-like elements and half-mirrored daytime running lights that blend beautifully with the reflective grille and are visible only when illuminated. Headlights and high beams are in compartments within the lower bumper.
Tucson’s interior spotlights new technology, including a 10.25-inch touchscreen combining the infotainment and climate system controls with nary a physical button or knob. There’s a hoodless digital gauge cluster, and a temperature-adjusting system providing diffused airflow on the front passengers.
For 2022, Tucson is available for the first time in gasoline-powered, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid models.
This review is about the gasoline version only.
There are four trim levels: SE, SEL, N Line (sport appearance model), and Limited. Each one comes standard with front-wheel drive and offers the option of all-wheel drive for an extra $1,500. Pricing for front-drive models including a $1,185 destination charge starts at $26,135 for the SE; $27,685 for the SEL; $31,785 for the N Line; and $35,885 for the Limited.
Something else they all have in common is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s a spunky duo delivering 187 horsepower, 178 pound-feet of torque, and a respectable EPA rating of 26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined, with front-wheel drive. Ratings for all-wheel drive are 24/29/26 mpg.
Interior dimensions have been expanded to supply 6 more cubic feet of passenger space than last year’s Tucson, and 7.7 cubic feet more cargo space. That brings their respective volumes up to 108.2 cubic feet, and 38.7 cubic feet. To express the same information simply and non-numerically: second-row passengers, who typically get squeezed in compact SUVs, have gobs of headroom and legroom in the new Tucson, and the cargo area looks huge.
Second-row seatbacks can be folded down easily to add another 36 cubic feet of cargo space.
Standard features on the base SE trim include an 8-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, 4.2-inch driver information display, cloth seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, and Hyundai’s SmartSense suite of safety features. As of July 2021 the SE model also comes with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, side mirrors with turn signal indicators, safe exit warning, and anti-theft immobilizer.
If you can swing it, for another $1,550 the SEL adds some nice indulgences such as an eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar, heated front seats, SiriusXM satellite radio, two extra USB outlets in the second row, and smart cruise control.
Along with its sport appearance elements, the N Line adds a Bose premium audio system, wireless device charging, and a hands-free liftgate with power adjustable height.
I drove the Tucson Limited model with AWD. The premium daytime running lights mentioned above are standard on the Limited (optional on the SEL). Other Limited upgrades include eight-way power for the front passenger seat and memory for the driver’s seat, ventilation for both front seats, heated rear seats, the 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation and Bose premium audio, a heated steering wheel, remote smart park assist, panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, and 64-color ambient interior lighting.
The richly designed and appointed Tucson interior is a haven of comfort and quiet. The glassy black touchscreen seems incredibly large and might have some fingerprint issues, but it’s great looking. Using it while driving can be a challenge. Without the fallback of handy buttons and knobs I was forced to use the screen and eventually became borderline competent. Nevertheless, it requires the driver to take eyes off the road, a puny plan. For the record, Limited is the only trim with this screen.
Tucson’s agreeable ride and handling traits make for enjoyable driving, and I never got over that mesmerizing front end.
2022 HYUNDAI TUCSON LIMITED AWD
Base price, including destination charge: $35,885
Price as driven: $37,454
Mary Lowry is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. She lives in Snohomish County. Vehicles are provided by automotive manufacturers as a one-week loan for evaluation purposes only. Manufacturers do not control content of the reviews.