INDIANAPOLIS — For a long time, Hyundai has stood for quality vehicles with handsome styling and value pricing. But, they weren’t especially engaging. That’s been changing recently, evidenced by the swoopy Elantra compact sedan and posh Santa Fe mid-size crossover. The just released 2022 Tucson goes further as a roomy compact crossover that can carry the entire family in style.
Given all of the creases, bulges and intricate lighting, the Tucson’s exterior styling could have gotten out of control. But, it didn’t. It’s expertly rendered from how the driving lamps are integrated into outboard grille slats, bulges and creases accentuate 19” wheels, and fang taillamps hint at sportier models like the Mustang. Look close to realize LED headlights reside where foglamps normally would. Though at first they look like a jumble of random stampings, every expertly rendered line has purpose. The satin silver accent on the rear windowline is especially elegant.
As much as I like the exterior, stylists did their best work inside where understatement and smart integration of technology cater to all passengers. Drivers are confronted with flatscreen instruments that change to red in Sport mode and grip a perfectly sized heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. Another flatscreen controls audio and navigation. Connect devices to the Bose audio system through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and wireless charging. Heated and ventilated front seats, dual-zone auto climate control, and a panoramic sunroof add unexpected luxuries. The push button gear selector is both functional and stylish.
Especially given the precious cargo you’re likely to carry, there’s a welcome array of safety technology. Forward collision alert with auto brake, lane keep assist and blind spot warning are a start. There’s also rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and surround vision cameras. A rear occupant alert keeps kids from being left behind while safe exit assist uses the blind spot system to prevent riders from stepping into traffic.
2022 Hyundai Tucson
Moving this spacious art project is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivering 187 horsepower and 178 lb.-ft. of torque. It gets to the road through an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system. It works smooth with the transmission keeping the engine in the right rev range while optimizing fuel economy. Though, nobody would complain with a couple of ticks higher than the 24/29-MPG for which it is rated.
There’s no denying the Tucson is based on a compact car architecture that was designed to be affordable, but it does an admirable job of handling rough pavement through its four-wheel independent suspension system. Put it into a corner and it is surprisingly spry with quick steering response. It’s especially comfortable on long highway trips. Flip through drive modes to configure the throttle, steering and traction control for Snow, Smart, Sport and Normal. In town or on the highway, it feels more powerful than the horsepower would indicate.
Like the latest Elantra, Hyundai delivered a compact vehicle with distinguished styling and engaging performance at a value-packed price. It’s even assembled domestically in Montgomery, Alabama. Tucson starts at just $24,950 and came to $37,454 with every option imaginable on our Limited AWD model. Competitors include the Chevy Equinox, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and VW Tiguan.
Casey Williams is former auto correspondent for WFYI and the Indianapolis Star plus a contributor to the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday Auto Page. He has reviewed vehicles and covered the auto industry for over 25 years. He lives with his family in Broad Ripple. E-mail him at AutoCasey@aol.com; check his reviews on YouTube at AutoCasey.
2022 Hyundai Tucson Ltd
Five-passenger, AWD crossover
Powertrain: 2.5-L I4, 8-spd trans
Output: 187 hp/178 lb.-ft.
Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
Wheels f/r: 19”/19” alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Must-have features: Style, Utility
Fuel economy: 24/29 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Montgomery, AL
Base/as-tested price: $24,950/37,454