2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid vs. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: Compare Crossover SUVs

July 27, 2021

Crossover SUVs long ago took over for mid-size sedans as the family car default choice, at least among our crew. With superior space and features, utility vehicles really only suffered in comparison in one way—fuel economy.

That’s cured with the arrival of excellent hybrid versions of some of today’s most popular crossovers, the Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Tucson. Both have edgy shapes and a roster of standard equipment that makes even base versions stand out in value—and now, each has a gas-electric powertrain with built-in frugality and the potential for plug-in power.

Looks can draw us in to a vehicle, or turn us off. To us, the RAV4’s adventurous shape strikes all the right notes, and the rugged theme carries over into the cabin in an artful way. The Tucson’s edgy folded body stuns on first glance too, but the interior’s lack of hard controls and more thrifty-looking plastic trim takes a back seat.

More important is how the dueling hybrids deliver power and how efficiently they roll. It’s great news from both, and the Hybrid’s the model we’d choose over either car’s gas-only powertrains. In the Tucson, a 226-hp powertrain teams batteries, a motor, and a 1.6-liter turbo-4 with a 6-speed automatic for a seamless hybrid driving experience and a net 38 mpg EPA combined rating. All-wheel drive is standard, and the Tucson Hybrid doesn’t offer EV-only driving modes or driver-selectable regenerative braking. It just goes—and it goes well, with battery power masking lean torque at low speeds, and overall, exceptional smoothness. The Tucson Hybrid’s better at winding roads than its gas counterpart, too, though we’d like another round of tuning to its noticeable body lean and light steering. 

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The RAV4, meanwhile, sports a 2.5-liter inline-4 with three motors—two in front for propulsion and a third in back for all-wheel drive. The combination nets out at 219 hp, and sends power out via an electronic continuously variable transmission, of Toyota’s unique planetary torque-split type. It’s satisfying and quick enough, but its star power comes from its EPA combined rating of 40 mpg. Handling and ride are suitably comfortable, too; the latest RAV4 has eclipsed its predecessors in steering feel and in its absorbent ride.

The RAV4’s ace is its already available plug-in edition; the Prime gets 42 miles of electric driving from its bigger battery and with 0-60 mph acceleration in about 5.7 seconds, it’s one of the quickest Toyotas, period. We’ll pit it against the Tucson plug-in soon.

Both the Tucson and RAV4 can seat four easily and a fifth on occasion, but the 2022 Tucson does it better. Toyota’s seats have thin bottoms and yet, the RAV4’s front passengers have less head room, especially under the available sunroof. Cargo space measures 37.5 cubic feet behind the rear fold-down seats. The Tucson’s front buckets are fine for bolstering, and rear-seat space blows by the RAV4, as does seat comfort; its cargo hold outpaces the RAV4 at 38.7 cubic feet, too.

Safety scores for the RAV4 are mostly good, though it has a four-star NHTSA rating for front-impact protection and its IIHS Top Safety Pick award extends only to the Hybrid version, due to better headlights. The Tucson hasn’t been crash-tested yet. Both come with automatic emergency braking and offer surround-view camera systems, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control where they’re not standard.

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

Prices for the Tucson Hybrid and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid end in a push. Opt for the super-efficient Tucson Hybrid Blue at $30,235 and you’ll get a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay (wireless) and Android Auto (wired, weirdly), or spend up into an SEL Convenience at $32,835, or a Limited at $38,535. A plug-in model with 32 miles of electric range is coming, and will cost a few thousand dollars more when it arrives later this year.

The RAV4, meanwhile, comes in LE Hybrid spec for under $30,000, and rises to more than $36,000 when fitted with a power sunroof and other niceties. But the Tucson Hybrid can be trimmed with a 10.3-inch touchscreen—and comes with a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty and three years of free maintenance.

The Tucson Hybrid outscores the RAV4 Hybrid on every front save for styling, and that’s before crash-test results are in. The winner’s clear here, but still, the plug-in RAV4 Prime remains one of our most efficient favorites among all utility vehicles. Tucson plug-in—the pressure’s on.

Summary

6.5
Expert Rating
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 is the meat-and-potatoes crossover for many buyers; the RAV4 Prime supplies the all-electric range.
7.2
Expert Rating
The 2022 Hyundai Tucson swings for the styling and efficiency fences–and connects.

Styling

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2021 RAV4 is now the looker among the compact crossover bunch; never thought we’d say that about a Toyota.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The Tucson is anonymous no more, with angular styling that makes it stand out.
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Performance

5.0
Expert Rating
Now with a performance, plug-in hybrid powertrain, the 2021 RAV4 covers all of the bases.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The Tucson hybrid performs better, and it’s more efficient.
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Comfort & Quality

6.0
Expert Rating
Style takes priority in the 2021 Toyota RAV4, for better or worse.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The redesigned Tucson is larger, adding cargo space and lots of rear leg room.
Read More

Safety

7.0
Expert Rating
The RAV4 needs better headlights on more models.
Read More
9.0
Expert Rating
The Tucson earned top safety ratings and offers a robust set of safety features.
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Features

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2021 RAV4 is available in just about any configuration.
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9.0
Expert Rating
The Tucson’s technology and safety features are impressive.
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Fuel Economy

5.0
Expert Rating
The most efficient 2021 Toyota RAV4 is also the quickest; we endorse that message.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
Fuel economy is much better in the Tucson hybrid models.
Read More

MSRP

from $26,350
from $24,950

Invoice

from $24,638
from $23,966

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

30
29

Engine

Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.5 L
Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.5 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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