Hyundai recently doubled down on electrification. Despite its focus on battery-electric vehicles, the company also remains committed to hybrids and plug-in hybrids, giving consumers options that gradually ease them into zero-emissions mobility. One of these is the 2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV, the latest member of the brand’s popular compact SUV family. Slotting at the top of the range, this rig puts Hyundai at the head of the pack and it’s not only for its efficiency. Oh no. This crossover gives versatility a whole new meaning.
2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV: Distinctly Class Above
You’re not mistaking the 2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV for anything else on the road. It looks like a concept car with LED daytime running lights embedded in the grille, voluptuous dimensions, cool taillights, and insane amounts of angles. Inside, you get a clean, uncluttered layout featuring a hoodless digital gauge cluster. The highlight? Built quality. In typical Hyundai fashion, the Tucson PHEV feels pricier than your typical compact SUV. Everything you interact with exudes an upscale aura from the soft-touch materials to the leather and padding. The generous levels of sound insulation also contribute to this because the Tucson has one of the quietest cabins in its class.
No Compromise on Practicality
Since the current Tucson is now one of the largest in its class, you get generous interior space. Five people fit comfortably, even for longer trips thanks to abundant head- and legroom. You don’t lose out on cargo carrying capabilities by going with the plug-in hybrid thanks to the battery living under the floor. The rear seats fold completely flat and slide forward and back, giving you additional flexibility. You also have plenty of storage areas for small items including a bin that can fit large smartphones with a cord attached to it.
Hyundai has one of the most intuitive infotainment systems available and it’s no different in the Tucson PHEV. Minimal submenus and lots of shortcuts keep things simple and to the point while crisp graphics on the 10.25-inch main touchscreen give the interface a fresh look. Unlike other Hyundai products, the Tucson trades physical controls for haptic feedback ones. While responsive, they’re a little distracting to use because you can’t tell which one you’re pressing. That means you need to take your eyes off the road for a brief moment to hit something, which isn’t ideal. Range-topping Limited models like our test vehicle also get a Bose audio system as standard. Although it’s not lacking in clarity, it could do a better job covering the cabin. Its volume also increases inconsistently meaning you need to go past the halfway mark to hear a distinct magnification in sound intensity.
Every Tucson PHEV gets a generous helping of driver assistance features as standard equipment. These are among the best in the business because they’re accurate yet smooth. The lane-centering component brings you back to the center gently and doesn’t jerk you over. Highway Driving Assist, Hyundai Motor Group’s semi-autonomous system, seamlessly follows the flow of traffic even at low speeds and proactively keeps your set distance with adaptive cruise control active. It’ll also slow the vehicle down when someone cuts you off or merges into your lane and helps you make evasive maneuvers if you need to dodge something.
2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV: Top-Class Road Manners
The Tucson PHEV exemplifies just how far Hyundai has come in the driving dynamics department. This is now one of the most satisfying compact SUVs to drive thanks to its surefooted handling, great body control, and tight steering. It also features torque vectoring via braking and the electric motor, improving turn-in and stability. While firm, the ride remains comfortable. You feel the road without getting beat up because the suspension does a nice job absorbing harsh impacts.
Power comes from a 1.6-liter turbo-four coupled to an electric motor, a six-speed automatic transmission, and a 13.8-kWh battery. With 261 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque combined, the Tucson PHEV moves well and has more than enough power for the majority of driving scenarios. Credit the engine’s broad torque curve and the electric motor’s instant response for how easy it is to pass other vehicles and climb steep grades. Although the gearbox shifts quickly, it always wants to go to the highest gear outside of Sport mode, causing it to hunt.
One of the Tucson PHEV’s distinguishing features is its standard AWD system. Unlike the Toyota RAV4 Prime, it’s a mechanical unit with a driveshaft connecting the front and rear axles. This means you get even power distribution to maximize grip. Additionally, the system responds right away, immediately shuffling power to the rear wheels when you accelerate hard.
Another highlight of the Tucson PHEV is the brake operation. Seamless transitions from regenerative to mechanical braking and progressive delivery mean it’s easy to input the right amount of stopping power. You won’t get jolted during hard stops either. While it lacks, one-pedal driving, you get plenty of energy recuperation when slowing down, which replenishes the battery a few percentage points when going downhill.
Efficient and Convenient
The Tucson PHEV’s powertrain adds a lot of versatility in terms of how you use it. When driven like a traditional hybrid, the EPA rates it at 35 mpg across the board and notes that the SUV can travel up to 420 miles. In all-electric mode, the plug-in Tucson travels up to 33 miles, perfect for short commutes. However, I found that easy to beat because I managed to go nearly 40 miles before depleting the battery. One caveat: use all-electric mode only in the city because highway driving drains the battery quickly. This gives you a lot of flexibility because you have the choice to drive in all-electric mode in the city or operate as a traditional hybrid for road trips. During my week, I managed an impressive 44 mpg and only charged on the days the battery was completely out.
Speaking of charging, the Tucson PHEV is one of only a handful of plug-in hybrids with a 7.2-kW onboard charger. That means on a level 2 AC charger, juicing up to 100 percent takes a little over two hours. Most competitors use a 3.3-kW unit while some have a 6.6-kW charger, lengthening their charging times.
Well-Balanced Class Leader
Hyundai has another gem on its hands with the 2022 Tucson PHEV. It’s a well-balanced and practical SUV with a versatile powertrain. Yes, the Toyota RAV4 Prime is quicker and more efficient but the Hyundai counters with class-above fit and finish and balance. Most importantly, you’re not spending much to get all of this goodness. Starting at $36,695 for the base and well-equipped SEL grade, this vehicle is a steal. All told, this range-topping Limited example checked in at roughly $44,000 before any local and state incentives and the $6,587 federal tax credit. The Tucson PHEV gives you a lot for your money, which isn’t surprising for a Hyundai product. You get a compact SUV that possesses class-leading road manners, a fancy interior, and some of the best technology features available today. It’s a fantastic gateway to emissions-free motoring.