As the public’s insatiable demand for crossover utility vehicles crowds out almost every other class of vehicle, killing off everything from bland sedans to sporty sports cars, the automotive world order reels. How big is the compact crossover utility class? A total of 17 entries—depending on how you count them all up—vie for dominance. The only thing more competitive than the compact CUV segment is maybe the current college application process, or maybe the subcompact class of crossover utilities, the latter which has 19 entries.
As the compact class gets more competitive, the entries in it keep getting better. Among the 17 CUVs in the Tucson’s class are some pretty strong contenders, everything from the Mazda CX-5, to the new Mitsubishi Outlander, to the exciting new Ford Bronco Sport. Sales leaders are the two juggernauts, the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, both of which have been leading the segment since it was born years ago. Those are followed by the Chevy Equinox, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Ford Escape, CX-5, and only then, our subject vehicle the Hyundai Tucson.
Those numbers were based on last year’s Hyundai Tucson, though, a fine entry but one that sort of got lost in the field. The new model won’t get lost in the field. It’ll go out in it and do donuts.
Let’s start on the outside. Unlike many of the other crossovers in the class, the Tucson won’t be confused with any other entries. True, it has the basic two-box design and generic crossover profile, but the folds and lines of the sides are unique. The pattern is similar to those found on the recently introduced Hyundai Elantra, where three lines intersect in the middle of the vehicle’s flanks. The difference is the sheetmetal folds on the Elantra form a forward-facing arrow, while the Tucson’s creases are rearward-facing. At least it looks that way. Up front are daytime running lights integrated into the grille (“…a separate arrangement of diamond-cut edges…”), with a sloping hood that flows up from the grille to the base of the windshield. The sharp creases all around set it apart in the segment. (For better or for worse Hyundai continues to call the look “Sensuous Sportiness,” to which I say, “Ew.”)
Inside the crossover is loaded with more than the previous set of techno-wonders, more of which are available as standard equipment than before. A new 10.25-inch full-touch info-NAV screen controls everything, with no knobs or raised buttons whatsoever. Is it smart to eliminate knobs and raised buttons? Competitors have tried this and many have gone back to adding knobs for volume and tuning and at least a few raised buttons or toggles here and there for more commonly used functions. Let Hyundai figure this out on its own.
“Our study found that technical innovation, infotainment, smartphone mirroring, and telematics were also extremely or very important considerations for subcompact SUV buyers,” Hyundai said in a presentation.
Thus the Tucson offers what Hyundai says are segment-first technologies like Remote Smart Park Assist, Remote Start with heated and ventilated seats, and Hyundai Digital Key.
To those Hyundai added “the democratization of safety,” including what Hyundai says are six of the most desired safety features standard: collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist, lane-following assist, auto high beam, driver attention warning, and rear-occupant warning, the latter which chimes and flashes a warning to check the back seat for wayward children and inebriated roommates.
To that, look for a litany of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), including forward collision-avoidance assist (with pedestrian, cyclist, and junction-turning detection), blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, highway driving assist, blind-spot view monitor, safe exit warning, and smart cruise control with stop and go.
Powering all this is your choice of three drivetrains. The base model comes with a normally aspirated 187-hp 2.5-liter four powering the front or all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic. For 2022 you also get a choice of a 226-hp hybrid powertrain mated to a six-speed automatic. A plug-in hybrid with 13.8-kWh battery good for 32 miles of all-electric driving is coming later this spring.
The 2022 Tucson is 6 inches longer and a half-inch higher and wider than the model it replaces, with 7.7 more cubic feet of cargo volume and six more cubic feet of passenger volume. Prices range from $26,135 for an SE with FWD to $38,535 for a Limited HEV AWD. Pricing for the PHEV will be out when that model arrives.
The question is, have all these changes made Hyundai stand out in this incredibly crowded segment? They surely have, but then you have to work on conquesting all those Honda and Toyota owners, and that’s a mighty tough sell.
Share your thoughts on the 2022 Hyundai Tucson—or on the compact crossover field in general—in the comments section below.
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