2022 Hyundai Tucson Evolves in Style
For most of its 35-year history selling vehicles in the United States, the funk laid heavily over Hyundai. Excels, Tiburons, Scoupes, Azeras, XG350s—some utterly awkward-looking machinery wore the italicized H badge. But lately the company has been on a design tear. Under Belgian-born chief designer Luc Donckerwolke, stalwarts like the Sonata sedan have hammocked between avant and garde, new vehicles like the blocky Palisade SUV have been runaway hits, and even the cheap twerps like the Venue have some class. But all that seems like mere prelude to the faceted, distinctive design of the new 2022 Tucson compact crossover. In a market segment dominated by play-it-safe designs like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the Tucson will be polarizing. And sometimes, polarizing is good.
In general profile, the new, larger Tucson isn't that much different than the outgoing model. It's the details that make it a standout. The exaggerated bulge of the fenders, the razor-edge line that runs through the doors, and the Hyundai logo sequestered under the rear-hatch glass speak to design ambitions beyond the genre standard. Granted, it's a small crossover, and there's only so far that form factor can be pushed. But somehow it feels like the designers were liberated here. Love it or hate it, the Tucson isn't boring.
The stars here are the twin 10.3-inch screens. The one in front of the driver is brilliant enough that it doesn't require a hood over it to provide shade, and the center screen has a more or less intuitive interface. (And in the context of current infotainment systems, "more or less" is a synonym for "pretty good.") What's missing? How about a volume knob for the sound system? Come on, it's easy. Hyundai also claims the new Tucson has some neat interior ambient lighting, but the press preview drive was conducted in daylight, so that remains to be seen.
With a 108.5-inch wheelbase and 182.3-inch overall length, the Tucson grows significantly in size from the 2021 model. Its dimensions now put it right alongside the 182.1-inch-long Honda CR-V. And the Hyundai's 108 cubic feet of passenger volume beats the CR-V by a few cubes. That's three more cubic feet you could use to store, say, a small poodle or a sushi bento box. Your move, Honda! Hyundai may be pushing the style edge with the Tucson, but from a practical standpoint it's going cube for cube with the class leaders.
The console-mounted shifter itself is a push-button thing similar to that now used by Honda. The Tucson's sibling, the Santa Cruz truck, uses a conventional lever shifter. Hyundai should offer the lever as an option on the Tucson if it can. Maybe it will show up on the sportier N Line version of the vehicle that was on display but not available to drive.
The steering is decently weighted, turn-in is reasonably crisp, and not even once did the Tucson spontaneously levitate. In terms of driving experience, it's exactly the crossover that customers expect. And right now, this already vast and ever-expanding class is what standard family transportation in the U.S. looks like.
Press previews like this one usually feature highly optioned, zippy top-of-the line models, the better to show off all available finery. Meanwhile, the bulk of sales are likely to be midrange versions that are well-equipped but hardly lavish. With the new Tucson, Hyundai has pushed the style envelope in some ways but gone strictly conventional in others. The Tucson is, based on worldwide sales, the company's bestseller. Hyundai can't afford to screw this up. And it hasn't.
Source: Car and Driver