Hyundai Tucson 2021 highlander (awd)
launch-review

2022 Hyundai Tucson review

First Australian drive.

Rating: 7.6
$46,850 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
    7.7L
  • Engine Power
    130kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    178g
  • ANCAP Rating
    5Stars
It's fair to say that medium SUVs remains the segment that Australians love as much as any other – barring maybe dual-cabs. Hyundai's new Tucson hits the ground running aiming to take the fight to Toyota and Mazda.
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There’s no doubt as to the importance of the medium SUV segment in the motoring landscape in Australia. Dominated by RAV4 and CX-5, the new 2022 Hyundai Tucson enters the fray with three model grades, three engines, three gearboxes, and either FWD or AWD.

Strangely though, there’s no PHEV or hybrid variant available, despite the popularity of the hybrid drivetrain underneath the skin of the segment-leading RAV4.

While Hyundai is undoubtedly looking forward as a brand with all manner of future technology in development, it does seem strange that one of the most important segments in Australia will see it not offer a hybrid of any kind. Even more so given the popularity of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which has resonated strongly with buyers.

Our pricing and specification guide details the full breakdown, and at launch we drive the entry-grade Hyundai Tucson (that’s the full model name) in all three trim lines – Tucson, Tucson Elite and Tucson Highlander.

The most affordable Tucson is the eponymous base model we tested at launch, which starts from $34,500 before on-road costs.

Later, a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine will join the range, along with a 2.0-litre turbo diesel, but for now, it’s the 2.0-litre, naturally-aspirated four-cylinder, with six-speed automatic and FWD.

Outputs of 115kW and 192Nm are adequate rather than impressive, and the engine has to work to extract its best performance. The ADR fuel claim for the combined cycle is 8.1L/100km. On test at launch, with a hefty amount of easy country cruising and highway running in the mix, we used an indicated 8.9L/100km. A solid highway run without any hard work, saw that number drop to 8.2L/100km.

2022 Hyundai Tucson
Engine2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol
Power and torque115kW at 6200rpm, 192Nm at 4500rpm
TransmissionSix-speed torque-converter automatic
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Kerb weight1590kg
Fuel consumption (claimed)8.1L/100km
Fuel use on test8.9L/100km
Boot size (five-seat/two-seat)539L/1860L
ANCAP safety rating (year)Untested
Warranty (years/km)Five years/unlimited kilometres
Main competitorsToyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail
Price as tested (Drive-away)$34,500

At launch, we sampled base Tucson, mid-grade Elite, and range-topping Highlander. While the Highlander – as expected – delivered on the premium standard inclusion strategy we have come to expect from Hyundai, the entry grade certainly doesn’t feel like a ‘cheap’ SUV. There are some omissions – halogen headlights instead of LEDs, for example – but even the entry-grade Tucson feels like decent value for money.

The 2.0-litre engine is also available with both Elite and Highlander trim grades starting from $39,000 and $46,000 respectively, both before on-road costs.

The standard inclusions list caters to all the usual suspects, with the range-topper gaining 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and tail-lights, dark chrome trim, silver highlights, an electric tailgate and panoramic sunroof.

Inside the cabin, the Highlander gets a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, ambient LED mood lighting, heated and ventilated from seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, driver’s memory seat, electric front passenger seat, and an eight-speaker Bose premium audio system.

The 10.25-inch central touchscreen – which comes from Elite up – is also a winner, and makes the case for the mid-grade Tucson compelling. At launch we tested Apple CarPlay and it worked reliably once connected, while the system itself was quick to respond and easy to navigate.

The digital driver’s display in the Highlander is a premium addition, you might still be accustomed to seeing in much more expensive vehicles.

There’s plenty of space in the cabin, which is vital in this segment for the family buyer. Put a six-footer in the front seat and there’s ample room in the second row for another six-footer without being cramped. The seats are comfortable, the visibility across the four main seats excellent, and the cabin has a bright, airy feel to it. We tackled a solid three-hour run out of Sydney each way for our launch drive, and the cabin is a good place to be.

The boot space is also useful, 539 litres expanding out to 1860 litres with the second row folded flat.

There is no doubt medium SUVs are the hot ticket for Australian family buyers in 2021 (outside dual-cabs of course) and the Tucson’s cabin ambience and comfort ensure it’s at the top of the pile in that sense.

The most obvious area where the Tucson misses out – aside from forward-thinking drivetrains – are some of the smaller specification inclusions.

For example, the base model gets a full-size spare (tick), but halogen headlights (cross). Given the sharp styling of the new Tucson, and how strong its presence is on the road, the old-tech lights look out of place against the attractive LED signature of the daytime running lights. Rural buyers appreciate high-end lighting too, so that is a factor worth noting.

You also get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the base model, which is a good inclusion, but you have to work them through a smaller 8.0-inch screen. None of these things are deal-breakers mind you, I just think they could add to the Tucson’s sales pitch in real terms.

One thing our launch drive unequivocally did, was leave us enthusiastically waiting to drive the 1.6-litre turbo petrol and 2.0-litre turbo diesel engines.

While the 2.0-litre petrol is perfectly adequate around town, asking it to stretch its legs on country roads, up hills, overtaking trucks and the like, pushes it outside its comfort zone. You need to rev it right out to its 6200rpm maximum power figure to get it moving with any sense of urgency, and it doesn’t love doing it.

The gearbox is smooth enough – a six-speed auto in the case of the 2.0-litre petrol – but it does spend some time hunting for the right ratio on kick down, and you can catch it out in the wrong gear at 80km/h for example if you need to accelerate to 110km/h into an overtaking zone.

Again, it will do the work you’re asking of it, just not as easily as we would like. Around town though, at regular traffic speeds, it behaves without fuss.

The new Tucson rides exactly as we’d expect. That is, proficiently and comfortably. The chassis is better tied down, and more balanced than the intended buyer will ever require, and the steering and bump absorption are also both excellent. It remains comfortable and composed at all times, even over nastier, more rutted surfaces. We loved the way it coped with the typical mix of Australian rural road surfaces, without so much as a tyre out of place.

Further to that point, the ambience and insulation inside the cabin is fantastic. The Tucson is quiet right up to 110km/h over any road surface. It’s beautifully free of wind noise, tyre noise and anything else that might otherwise upset the sense of quality inside the cabin. One of those hard to define aspects of a premium cabin is insulation, and the Tucson is excellent in that regard. It’s another string to its bow that points to its long-distance touring ability.

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson is in the top three in a sales sense in this country and with good reasons. It’s a quality, well-specified SUV that puts forward a strong case in such a competitive environment. We’re looking forward to driving the other engine and gearbox combinations, but on face value, the smart money looks to be higher up in the range, where you get real quality for your money.