2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Review

Jeff Youngs, Independent Expert | Aug 24, 2021

Introduction - Find the best Hyundai deals!

The Tucson is Hyundai's most popular—and, arguably, most important— model in its U.S. lineup, slotting in above the smaller Kona and under the slightly larger Santa Fe in the automaker's SUV lineup. The Tucson offers a blend of practicality, safety, and technology at a price that's hard to beat. A redesign for the 2022 model year not only brings an expanded footprint with more interior space and added technology but also new powertrains, further enhancing the compact SUV's appeal.

For 2022, two new hybrid powertrain options—a full hybrid and a plug-in hybrid—join the Tucson's internal combustion engine (ICE) version. Compared to the ICE-powered Tucson, the new 2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid—the subject of this review—bumps up economy and performance with the following upgrades:

  • Turbocharged, direct-injected, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder gas engine
  • One electric motor
  • Combined system output of 226 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque
  • A 64-kw lithium-ion hybrid battery with 1.49 kWh capacity
  • Standard all-wheel drive (AWD)
  • Up to 38 combined mpg

The new Tucson Hybrid comes in three trim levels: Blue, SEL Convenience, and the well-appointed Limited. Pricing ranges from $30,235 for the Blue to $38,535 for the Limited, including the $1,185 destination charge. A turbocharged, direct-injected, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard on all 2022 Tucson Hybrid models, as is a 6-speed automatic transmission and AWD.

Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2022 Hyundai Tucson. This review focuses on the all-new Tucson Hybrid variant and how it potentially impacts the Tucson's overall appeal to consumers.

What Owners Say About the Hyundai Tucson - Find the best Hyundai deals!

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited AWD White Front Quarter View

Photo: Jeff Youngs

The Hyundai Tucson competes in the Compact SUV segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 56 percent of previous-generation Hyundai Tucson buyers are female (vs. 49 percent for the segment), and the median age of a Tucson buyer is 58 years (vs. 59).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the previous-generation Tucson in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Feeling of safety
  • Getting in and out
  • Interior design (in a tie with setting up and starting)
  • Setting up and starting (in a tie with interior design) 
  • Driving comfort
  • Infotainment system
  • Powertrain
  • Fuel economy

In the 2020 APEAL Study, the previous-generation Tucson ranks 10th out of 15 Compact SUVs.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Hyundai Tucson - Find the best Hyundai deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert provides an analysis of a 2022 Tucson Hybrid Limited AWD equipped with the following options:

  • Quartz White exterior paint
  • Carpeted floor mats

The price of the test vehicle came to $39,054, including the $1,185 destination charge.

Hybrid Powertrain Balances Performance and Economy

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited AWD White Hybrid Engine View

Photo: Jeff Youngs

With the global auto industry now clearly headed in the direction of electrification—whether it be fully electric (BEV), hybrid electric (HEV), or plug-in hybrid (PHEV)—it makes sense that Hyundai would introduce an electrified powertrain on its popular Tucson when it launched the next-generation model. Indeed, Hyundai is launching not one but two hybrid variants of the Tucson for the 2022 model year: an HEV version, available now, and a PHEV version that's coming later in 2021.

Obviously, the goal of a hybrid powertrain is to offer increased fuel economy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions compared with a gas-powered engine. The benefits, both in terms of cost savings and to the environment, are well documented. But quite often, there's a performance penalty that comes with a hybrid powertrain.

In developing the new Tucson Hybrid, Hyundai didn't want to compromise driving engagement while achieving the desired gains in efficiency. Indeed, the automaker's stated goal was to find a balance between that efficiency and performance. By combining a 1.6-liter turbocharged gas engine with a 44.2-kW electric motor and a 1.49-kWh battery pack, Hyundai engineers created a hybrid powertrain that produces 226 total system combined horsepower, along with 258 pound-feet of torque. Power is channeled to all four wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

The hybrid system is not only more efficient but also more powerful as well. Hyundai says the Tucson Hybrid delivers 20 percent more torque compared to the gas-engine version. I'd say this isn't a false claim from the driver's seat as the Tucson Hybrid is very responsive, either from a standstill or while passing.

Standard HTRAC Advanced AWD System

Further differentiating it from the traditional gas-powered model, the Tucson Hybrid comes standard with the automaker's HTRAC AWD system (an extra-cost option on the non-hybrid version). In fact, it's the first time AWD has come standard on any Hyundai SUV model, according to the company.

Available with four driver-selectable modes—Normal, Sport, Smart, and Snow—HTRAC provides an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles. Hyundai says its AWD system was developed at off-road proving grounds across the globe, ensuring it meets the needs of customers who drive on a wide variety of surfaces.

In Sport mode, the HTRAC system sends more torque to the rear wheels, giving the Tucson Hybrid a more sporting and agile feel, according to Hyundai. One of the unique characteristics of the AWD system is that it is tuned for a broader range of torque distribution variability, meaning it can better handle situations like straight-line acceleration, cornering at speed, and hill starts.

While I didn't do any off-roading with the Tucson Hybrid, I did test the vehicle's off-the-line acceleration. There was nary a spin of the wheels, just smooth, sure-footed acceleration.

Upgraded e-Handling Driving Dynamics

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited AWD White Interior Dashboard

Photo: Jeff Youngs

Hybrids, especially those of the SUV variety, aren't known for their handling prowess. Push the handling envelope too far in most hybrids, and you're sure to be rewarded with howling tires and generous amounts of understeer. Not so in the Tucson Hybrid.

Hyundai engineers set out to give the Tucson Hybrid surprising driving performance characteristics, in the company's words, "to create a pure sense of connection between the vehicle and the driver." There's no question that the new Tucson Hybrid handles better than the previous generation, thanks to Hyundai's e-Handling technology, which is standard on the hybrid version of the SUV.

The Tucson Hybrid's e-Handling technology combines the traction control system and hybrid electric motor to provide better cornering performance. It works by applying electric motor torque control based on dynamic inputs and road conditions. For instance, when turning in to a corner, the system applies braking force to the front wheels, increasing the size of the tire's contact patch and thus enhancing traction and steering response. As the SUV exits the corner, the system applies torque to the rear axle to achieve similar benefits. The result is improved cornering performance and enhanced driving dynamics.

In real-world driving, the Tucson Hybrid provides sure-footed handling, not only on loose surfaces like gravel driveways but also banked Interstate on- and off-ramps and undulating two-lane country roads. Indeed, I was surprised at how well the SUV handled, both in terms of grip and smoothness. Well done, Hyundai.

Hybrid Provides Significantly Better Fuel Economy

Hyundai says the new Tucson Hybrid's powertrain is 30 percent more efficient than the regular gas version of the SUV. The EPA agrees. The estimated combined fuel economy for the base Blue trim level of the Tucson Hybrid is 38 mpg, while the SEL Convenience and Limited trims achieve 37 combined mpg. This compares with 26 mpg for AWD versions of the ICE-powered Tucson and 29 mpg for the Tucson with front-wheel drive.

During my time with the vehicle, I observed an average of 31 mpg in combined city/highway driving—worse than the EPA estimates for the Tucson Hybrid but better than the non-hybrid version. In fairness to Hyundai, I did spend quite a bit of time idling with the air conditioner on full blast as I experimented with the various infotainment, navigation, and driver assistance feature menus. I also tested the vehicle's off-the-line acceleration and passing power capabilities… repeatedly. All in the name of research, of course.

With a 13.7-gallon fuel tank, the Tucson Hybrid Blue can, theoretically, travel more than 500 miles on a single tank of gas. Of course, whether or not you can actually travel that far depends on your driving style as well as road conditions. Regenerative braking also helps to feed power back to the battery, further extending range. 

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Hyundai deals!

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited AWD White Rear Quarter View

Photo: Jeff Youngs

With Genesis-like levels of quiet and refinement, sharp styling, a feeling of spaciousness, and a lot of bang-for-the-buck safety-related advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), the 2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid impresses. Add in a surprisingly sporty ride with excellent powertrain response, and Hyundai appears to have knocked it out of the park. Oh, and did I mention the 10-year/100,000-mile hybrid system and battery warranty, 3-year/36,000-mile free scheduled maintenance, 5-year/unlimited mile roadside assistance, and free Blue Link connected services for three years? That ought to allay just about anyone's fears of owning a hybrid.

What strikes me is how little compromise there is with the new Tucson Hybrid. There's no turbo lag, no torque steer, no feeling of inadequate power, no handling penalty, and, perhaps most importantly, no range anxiety with a gas engine sharing duty with the electric motor/battery. In my opinion, the new Tucson Hybrid is one of the best hybrids currently on the market, SUV or no.

Jeff Youngs has more than 25 years of experience in the auto industry, including 19 years with J.D. Power in both marketing and editorial management roles. He also spent nearly six years with General Motors as a media relations pro.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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