The 2022 Hyundai Tucson is turning heads with a bold redesign that looks like it rolled right out of a sci-fi movie. But it takes more than a cool aesthetic to impress real automotive enthusiasts, so we want to know: are these changes only skin-deep, or can Hyundai back up the SUV’s flashy looks with some real, substantive changes? Well, the new Tucson is certainly impressing organizations across North America; it’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, it’s been named the 2022 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and it earned an Editors’ Choice award from Car and Driver. But why? Before you head out to a car dealer near you to take a look for yourself, let’s dive in and see what all the buzz is about.
A Bolt Look
The first thing you’ll notice about the Tucson is what it looks like on the outside. Where the 2021 model had a more conventional face, the 2022 model has a bold look, with chiselled surfaces and angular panels that set the body design apart from past models. Hyundai used a design aesthetic they call “Parametric Dynamics” to emphasize the body’s dimensions and make it stand out from other vehicles on the road.
One thing driving the exterior’s change is improved lighting. The LED headlights are brighter and more efficient, so they don’t need to be as big. But the sleek, narrow headlights that are visible at first glance aren’t the only forward lighting the car has. The daytime running lights are integrated into the front grille, camouflaged so that you won’t even know that they’re there until they light up.
The tail lights use LED technology too, and the way that they’re laid out adds to the exterior’s futuristic look while also offering increased visibility for practical safety. In addition to the small triangular shapes that come together on each side to form the main tail lights, there’s a wraparound light strip that covers the full width of the back panel. For even more illumination, drivers can get available LED side repeaters that are built into the side view mirrors and help make each turn signal extra visible.
Looking futuristic is one thing, but if you really want to let people know that your vehicle is ready for tomorrow, adding some electric power is the way to go. The 2022 Tucson offers three powertrains, letting drivers choose how much they want to rely on gas to get around. The standard option is powered entirely by gas with a 2.5L GDI engine that offers 187 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque.
For a little more fuel efficiency, there’s the standard hybrid powertrain. This pairs a 1.6L Turbocharged engine with a 44.2 kW electric motor that provides some extra power, resulting in 227 combined horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. But if you want to be able to run the SUV entirely on electricity and relegate gas to a backup source of fuel, you can upgrade to a plug-in hybrid powertrain. This option has an electric range of 53 km and has the best power stats of all three powertrains at 261 combined hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.
A Spacious Interior
The most practical improvement to the interior is probably its spaciousness. This model is bigger than previous years, giving passengers more room to stretch their legs, even in the back seats, and providing plenty of room for cargo. The 2022 Tucson’s 1,095 litres of cargo capacity, nearly double that with the rear seats folded down, is impressive for a compact SUV and should satisfy everyone from bulk shoppers to hockey parents.
While the layout of the cabin is familiar and intuitive, the individual pieces of it all have a bit of unique flair. The silver trim used for the climate control vents wraps around and continues onto the doors, giving the space a cohesive look. The four-spoke steering wheel has an interesting shape, offering a few different ways to comfortably grip it. On top of these standard features, there are plenty of fun extras at higher trim levels. A fully digital instrument cluster takes the place of analog dials, ventilated front seats make it easy to cool down on hot summer days, and an 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support works to prevent back pain on long road trips.
Like most cars these days, the Tucson comes with a touchscreen interface that controls navigation, audio, and smartphone apps. The standard screen is 20 cm, but some trims come with a high-definition 26 cm version instead. While the Essential trim may be the most basic, it does come standard with an impressive array of tech, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, automatic headlights, selectable drive modes, and heated front seats.
Beyond what comes standard on the lowest trim level, the available tech runs the gamut from a Bose premium sound system that should satisfy dedicated audiophiles to rain-sensing windshield wipers that turn on automatically when they detect moisture. Like most vehicles these days, Hyundai offers keyless entry with a push-button start. The smart power liftgate is also a fairly common feature among modern SUVs, though Hyundai does make it its own. Instead of having the driver kick to activate a motion sensor under the car, the Tucson’s liftgate opens automatically if someone stands within one metre of it with the key fob for at least three seconds. One particularly cool feature is the Remote Smart Parking Assist, which lets you pull out of or into tight parking spaces remotely, controlling the vehicle with the key fob, so you don’t have to worry about opening the door too wide and causing damage.
Most features can only be accessed while you’re inside the SUV, or at least nearby with the key fob, but there are others that you can control remotely with a smartphone. With the Bluelink connectivity system, you can connect your vehicle to Hyundai’s smartphone app. This lets you lock or unlock the car remotely and use remote vehicle start to get the climate control going early, so the cabin is already a comfortable temperature when you get in. Other useful features help you find your car, access real-time diagnostics, and send for roadside assistance.
A Generous Safety Suite
Even on the Essential trim, you’ll get a generous suite of driver assistance technologies, like forward collision avoidance, lane follow and keeping assist, driver attention warning, automatic high beams, and rear occupant alert. Upgrade a bit, and you can unlock more features, like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot collision avoidance, and parking distance warning. While a rearview camera comes standard on all Tucsons, higher trims add on a few extra camera angles. Blind View Monitor shows a live stream of your blind spot right in the digital gauge cluster, while Surround View Monitor is designed to help you get a comprehensive view of your surroundings while parking, giving you a choice between front, rear, curbside, and full 360° views around the vehicle, with the option to zoom in and out on the touchscreen.
What Will Hyundai Think Up Next?
The Tucson has been a well-loved SUV for years now, so it would be reasonable to expect Hyundai to play it safe and stick to a winning formula. But the automaker isn’t afraid to shake things up, and even though the Tucson had a fairly major redesign as recently as the 2019 model year, the 2022 model has a lot of cool upgrades that set it apart from what’s come before. From the myriad tech upgrades to the welcome addition of hybrid powertrains, the new Tucson feels just as bold and futuristic as it looks. The only question now is: what will Hyundai think up next?