The Tucson has shone in Hyundai’s portfolio with alternating pulses of brightness, coming into view for customers one year and fading away in another. But it has always been a vehicle that has delivered novelty and value to buyers in the segment — two key attributes that the Korean brand strives to bring to every model in its portfolio. This year, the Tucson has come back on board with the new 2022 model and will be at your nearest dealership. So, if you are in the market for a full-size 5-seater SUV in the premium segment, the Tucson must feature in the shortlist... again. 

Design

The Tucson’s design used to be that of an upright sports utility with soft angles and rounded edges. But that has changed with the new model and the fresh global design language of Hyundai kicking in. The 2022 Tucson is even more of a crossover design than it ever was. At about 4.7 metres long, it is still a large vehicle. In fact, what we get in India is the long wheelbase version (2.75 metres); it is offered in a smaller wheelbase version in other markets. This fourth-gen Tucson is built on a shortened version of the Hyundai N3 platform, which it shares with the Santa Fe. 

The low, sloping roofline and the angular features gives it a sharper profile. The front fascia is the busiest section with the multi-slatted grille creating a distinct look for the Tucson. Hyundai calls it the new Parametric design, which basically refers to the triangular theme running through the vehicle. Embedded into multiple design elements, this theme and the intersecting angles on panel surfaces gives the Tucson a unique character. Sitting between the two headlamps, the wide grille also houses an array of LED daytime running lamps (DRLs) that have been cleverly integrated using some hi-tech construction which Hyundai calls half-mirror lighting. When not in use, these lights are hidden and merge into the grille. 

The main headlamps are positioned in the front fender. Interplay of sharp creases and surfaces form a strong side profile too. Even though the side cladding is thin, the bulging squared-off wheel arches and the strong haunch make its stance very masculine. The matt aluminium window line highlight widens into a thick garnish for the C-pillar. At the rear, it gets connected LED tail-lamps with a unique toothy design and configuration. The turn indicators and reversing lamps are positioned lower and have been integrated into the rear fender. Smart packaging includes the rear wiper being hidden away and integrated under the roof mounted spoiler. The boot offers a generous 540-litres of luggage space with all five seats in use. 

Cabin

Compared to that busy exterior design, the interior of the new Tucson sports a sort of minimalist layout. The flat-topped dashboard and waterfall-style centre stack are finished clean with precisely fitted panels and touchscreens. Thin metal accents highlight the layout and add to that minimalist construction. In terms of quality of materials used, except for the more mundane soft-touch plastic and textured plastic combination, the cabin might look like it is from a segment above. The two touchscreens - one for the infotainment and the other for the auto aircon - sit flush, making it look like one large panel in the centre stack.

The new Tucson also gets a 10.25-inch hoodless, floating type digital instrument cluster with a clear readout of all key driving info. The 4-spoke, steering wheel has more controls on it, including for ADAS functions. The 2022 Tucson’s cabin is focused on keeping the driver happy and comfortable with cooled and heated front seats. The perforated leatherette seats also get electrical adjustments - 10-way for the driver and 8-way for the front passenger. The driver’s seat also gets three memory functions for the settings. The controls for all the functions have also been placed intuitively right on the front edge of the armrest or on the centre console. But all that focus for the driver and front passenger hasn’t led to rear benchers being ignored.

The new Tucson offers a lot of space for rear passengers. Even 6-footers will find that the legroom and headroom are ample. The split rear seats’ backrests recline to offer a more comfortable position. There is also the addition of the passenger seat walk-in device, which allows the rear occupant to move the front seat forward for easier entry/ exit or if more legroom is needed. 

Some of the other features in the new Tucson include a Bose music system, a blind spot/ lane watch camera that delivers a live view of the next lane on the instrument display every time you engage the turn indicator, a power tailgate, wireless smartphone charging and a panoramic sunroof. The infotainment system only gets wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but home-to-car with Amazon Alexa and Google voice assistant is integrated, and it also gets multiple embedded in-car voice command features. Hyundai’s suite of BlueLink connected car features are also offer, including over-the-air updates.

Performance

The new Tucson is being offered with two powertrain options. There is no manual transmission on offer. But the one petrol and one Diesel engine option each get automatic transmissions. Both the engines are two-litre, 4-cylinder units and both are offered by Hyundai in multiple other vehicles in its global portfolio. The petrol mill is the 1,999cc unit generating 156PS of peak power and 192Nm of torque. This naturally-aspirated engine which we’ve already experienced in the Hyundai Alcazar, is paired with a 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission in the Tucson. I only got to test it briefly during the official drive, but my initial impressions are that it feels less energetic than in the Alcazar.

Lack of turbocharging and its mapping for the Tucson seems to be focused on delivering a restrained performance during slow engine speeds. A stronger mid-range would have helped, though it may have also affected fuel efficiency. 

The diesel engine on the other hand feels peppier. The 1,997cc unit not only generates a healthier output of 186PS and 416Nm of torque; but it is also how that is delivered. There is a lot of low-end torque and the 8-speed torque converter automatic it is paired with complements the way the engine’s inherently lively performance and delivers quicker shifts and more appropriate gear selection. I did miss steering-mounted paddles, though manual +/- selection helped me take corners at speeds that I could choose.

The ride quality in the new Tucson is a bit of mix in terms of performance. Set up to be pliant, it soaks up breaks on the road or potholes well, but it also leads to body roll, and can be a bit unpleasant when driving through deep undulations on relatively well-laid tarmac. Good grip and assistance in improving ride quality from the 235/60 R18 MRF Wanderer tyres. The spare under the boot floor is a space saver. The steering wheel weighs up at high speeds but is light and easy to use in city.

The top ‘Signature’ trim diesel variant that I was driving also featured all-wheel drive with terrain mode selection - snow, mud and sand, including a 4WD lock. A selector button on the centre console allows the driver to choose from four drive modes including Eco, Normal, Sport and Smart. Sport mode is only one that seems to deliver any discernible difference in on-road performance. 

Bottomline

Hyundai manages to deliver more value for most of its vehicles and the new Tucson is no exception. In addition to a host of automated functions in the cabin, the top trim also gets a large suite of ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) functions making a Level 2 autonomous vehicle. Many of the key functions will be useful in Indian conditions too. Lane keeping and following assist, forward collision warning and avoidance, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning etc., will certainly help. It is also interesting to note and actually experience on-road that these functions have been fine-tuned after extensively testing in Indian driving conditions.

The 2022 Tucson has been priced in the range of ₹27.7 lakh to ₹34.4 lakh. That does make the top trim variant just a shade more expensive than I would have liked. But it is well-equipped and will still be a strong contender in the premium full-size SUV space. 

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