The Car Connection Hyundai Tucson Overview
The Hyundai Tucson is a small crossover SUV, bigger than the Kona but smaller than the Santa Fe. The Tucson competes against mainstays such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, and Subaru Forester.
A fully redesigned version of the Tucson arrived for the 2022 model year that also introduced a hybrid model to the mix.
MORE: Read our 2022 Hyundai Tucson review
With the Tucson, Hyundai sells a useful hatch-wagon with available all-wheel drive; off-road ability isn't nearly as much its forte as simply being a versatile, maneuverable vehicle with a high seating point.
The current Hyundai Tucson
For 2022, the Tucson’s redesign changes the crossover in numerous ways and much for the better. It has grown dimensionally to reach size parity with competitors and offers a good amount of rear cargo room and backseat legroom, two areas in which the last model fell short.
Styling has also taken a gigantic leap forward, the Tucson used to be fairly anonymous but it now features an angular, creased look that matches the changes Hyundai made with the Elantra compact sedan. It now stand out on the road, rather than blending in. The grille nicely integrates the standard daytime running lights and the rear has a pair of downward pointing taillights giving it a visual signature from either side.
Inside, there’s also a big jump forward in technology beyond the added space. An 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay is standard (Android Auto is wired), with a larger 10.3-inch screen available on the Limited trim. Curiously, the larger multimedia screen ditches the wireless CarPlay for a wired setup. Strange. Limited models also add a 10.3-inch instrument panel display, that helps to power the blind spot monitor system which shows a live display of the Tucson’s blindspot on the screen in front of the driver. Heated rear seats, leather upholstery, and a panoramic moonroof round out the premium features you’ll find on Limited models. The Tucson is a bit noisier than a luxury vehicle and materials don’t quite reach that territory, but it competes with them on feature set.
The other big addition for 2022 is a new hybrid model, that is both more efficient and better to drive. Gas models are powered by a 187-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 and an 8-speed automatic that sends power to the front or to all four wheels. The hybrid comes with standard all-wheel drive and a 1.6-liter turbo-4/electric motor combo that pumps out 226 hp. It makes the Tucson feel much more lively and tops out at 38 mpg combined vs. 29 mpg combined for the most efficient gas models.
Hyundai Tucson history
The first-generation Tucson hit the U.S. market in 2005, offering an affordable compact crossover for daily driving with a range of trim levels. The Tucson has carried that basic motif through to the new generation, though over time the engine options have changed.
That 2005 Tucson was available with a 2.0-liter inline-4 rated at 140 hp, or a 173-hp, 2.7-liter V-6, with both mated to either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. The Tucson's three trim levels—GL, GLS, and Limited—divided the powertrains up as fit the model. The GL was available only with the 4-cylinder engine, and a choice of the manual or automatic transmission. The GLS and Limited, on the other hand, were available with only the V-6 and only the automatic transmission. All models were available with all-wheel drive.
Safety ratings for the first Hyundai Tucson were a strong point, earning five stars in all categories in NHTSA testing from 2005 through the 2009 model year.
The second-generation Hyundai Tucson was introduced for the 2010 model year, with a much bolder new design and updated engines. It offered a choice between two 4-cylinder engines, either a 2.0-liter inline-4 with 165 hp, or a 2.4-liter inline-4 that makes 176 hp. A choice of 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic on the base engine became automatic-only with the bigger powerplant, but all-wheel drive was offered on either.
These Tucson models were more spacious than the ones they replaced, but they didn't have quite as much interior room as competitors like the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester. Four adults fit comfortably, and the rear seat offered decent head room and leg room even for taller adults.
Safety ratings were fairly solid for this Tucson, with four stars overall from the NHTSA and mostly top "Good" scores from the IIHS; the only major demerit was a "Poor" score on the IIHS's newest test, the small frontal overlap crash test, which kept it out of contention for the agency's Top Safety Pick status.
This Tucson changed relatively little after its 2010 launch. Starting with the 2013 model year, all versions came with standard air conditioning; power windows, locks, and mirrors; remote keyless entry; cloth seats; and an AM/FM/XM/CD player with a USB port. Changes for 2015 were limited, with a new option package on the GLS adding items like a touchscreen radio and power driver's seat, while Limited models got LED taillights as standard equipment.
This Tucson was among those Hyundai vehicles included in a restatement of fuel-economy figures. From the 2011 to the 2013 model years, the EPA found that many Hyundai vehicles had overstated gas-mileage ratings that did not hold up to confirmation testing performed by the agency. For more info, see www.hyundaimpginfo.com.
The Tucson was redesigned once more in 2016, and was powered with either a 164-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine or a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-4 with 175 hp. Both engines issue power to the front or all four wheels via a 6-speed automatic. Interior space grew, and so did the list of available active-safety features.
Very little changed on 2017 models aside from some nicer interior materials on Sport models. Hyundai shuffled some equipment and trim level names for 2018, and made a larger touchscreen standard on more models. For 2019 the Tucson got a refresh that retouched the shape with a new grille, headlights and taillights. The Tucson’s interior adopted the shapes of the smaller Kona, with a lower dash and a big touchscreen. The base screen grew to 7.0 inches, and came with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Forward-collision warnings became standard in 2019, along with active lane control. The Tucson added options for a surround-view camera system and adaptive cruise control to go with its standard rearview camera. With revamped headlights, the 2019 Tucson earned a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS. Hyundai also replaced the turbo-4 with a non-turbo, 2.4-liter inline-4 with 181 hp.