Toyota RAV4, you have just been overshadowed by the 2022 Hyundai Tucson.
Hyundai showed off the redesigned compact crossover on Monday, and it no longer appears to be the small SUV easy to overlook on roads teeming with the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, and bestselling Toyota RAV4.
A trio of fuel-efficient and hybrid powertrains highlight the mechanical upgrades, but the bees in this bonnet are the daring design and comprehensive standard technology features.
Bulging wheel arches and creased door panels flex the 2022 Tucson into a crossover SUV fraught with portent, like a bug-shaped Transformer set to morph into something more. At the front, the LED daytime running lights are indistinguishable from the latticed grille until illuminated. Once lit, they blend into the LED headlights and wrap into the side with a belt line that rises over the square fender before dipping into the front door. Curves converge, and the bulge gets creased like newspaper over the rear fender.
In profile, the wheels are pushed to the edges with short overhangs that conspire for a sleek sport sedan vibe. Traces of the Sonata’s notched rear spoiler appear in triplicate behind the subtly cladded wheel arches and below the roof spoiler up top. The three notches in each of those panels act like lines you’d draw behind a character in a comic to suggest motion. The rear, full-width taillights are shaped like robot shark teeth. In a word, the design is suspenseful.
Inside it calms down into sophistication. The digital instrument cluster stands on its own, not recessed under a hood. The dash forms an elliptical band up top that rolls to the doors and meets in the middle into a stack of technology. The top trim features twin 10.3-inch touchscreens for infotainment up top and climate controls below. Base versions get an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Two phones can be connected simultaneously so the connected car experience can be shared by playlists from either phone, or to use one for navigation and the other for audio. An available 64-color ambient lighting system promises to illuminate all the moods of all five passengers.
The available powertrains might lighten some moods, as well. The base engine is a 2.5-liter inline-4 that makes 190 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. It has an 8-speed automatic transmission sending power to the front or available all-wheel drive in Mud, Sand and Snow modes that complement the Eco, Comfort, Smart, or Sport modes offered on the outgoing model.
Like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Ford Escape hybrids, the 2022 Hyundai Tucson comes with a 1.6-liter inline-4 hybrid system that delivers 230 hp and 258 lb-ft. Details of a new plug-in hybrid model are expected later this year, as is a Tucson N Line with a sporty appearance package.
Every 2022 Tucson comes loaded with standard safety features, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, parking aids such as remote self-parking, automatic high beams, and a surround-view camera. Available driver assist features include adaptive cruise control, rear automatic emergency braking, and more.
Fuel economy, pricing, and driving impressions of the 2022 Hyundai Tucson will be made available near when the Tucson goes on sale in the first half of 2021.