Range-topping equipment meets entry-level drivetrain. Is this a tale of two cities, or simply a quiet achiever? James finds out.

What we love
  • Slick design from tip to tail looks great on the road
  • Well featured with lots of clever inclusions
  • It’s not exciting, but this might be the best way to package a Tucson

What we don’t
  • Ride comfort and control could use a little work
  • Some ergonomic challenges with button placement
  • Driveline might be simple, but its pretty dull too

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Is the Hyundai Tucson a good car?

This is it, folks. This is the car we’ve all secretly wished for… or at least it is in theory.

For years we have lamented that in order to surround yourself with gizmos, gadgets and fancy fabrics, you needed the high output engine, and the bells and whistles driveline. As if somehow there was a necessary symbiosis between a sunroof and a gearbox.

But in this specification, the trim-topping 2022 Hyundai Tucson Highlander is paired with its most basic non-turbo, 2.0-litre petrol engine option and a regular six-speed automatic transmission with front-wheel drive.

In theory, it’s like buying really expensive artisan aged cheddar and serving it on a Ritz cracker. Which in practice, kind of works. Especially as a late-night snack.

Priced from $46,400 before options and on-road costs, the ‘Ritzy’ Tucson saves $4000 from the price of its turbocharged 1.6-litre counterpart and a whopping $6000 from the list price of the diesel.

And as such, it poses the very real question that if you’re looking for your medium-sized Hyundai to run to the shops and take the kids to netball, do you really need all-wheel drive and a few extra kilowatts?

Because looking at this thing from across the street, with its cool angles, panoramic roof and snazzy wheels, I’m thinking you don’t.

Key details 2022 Hyundai Tucson Highlander FWD
Price (MSRP) $46,400
Colour of test car Amazon Grey Metallic
Options Premium paint ($595), Grey interior ($295)
Price as tested $47,290
Rivals Kia Sportage | Mazda CX-5 | Toyota RAV4

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Does the Hyundai Tucson have LED headlights?

I know style is subjective and all, but it’s still my job to tell you that the new Tucson is a really cool looking car.

Our car in Amazon Grey (a kind of gold-metallic dark khaki colour), which is one of seven choices and a $595 premium paint option, looks really slick. The 19-inch wheels don’t hurt either.

The LED lighting integrated within the grille, and the almost three-dimensional (well, they are actually three dimensional) LED tail lamps and reflector strip make the car feel modern before you even notice the creased bodywork and flying silver D-pillar.

Hyundai is working hard to move their product set more upmarket, a statement made particularly obvious when you see the car next to its previous generational counterparts.

Through some random space-time occurrence, which I’ll refer to as the Tucson-paradox, I managed to encounter not one, but two older versions within the same happenstance, to feature them all in one photo.

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Enjoy it before Time magazine buys the rights.

Here, you can really see just how much the mid-size SUV has matured into a product worthy of Mazda, Volkswagen and Skoda cross-shop comparisons, especially at this trim level.

Oh, and the rear wiper hides under the rear spoiler. You’d be surprised how many people asked me about that!

What is the Hyundai Tucson like inside?

The Tucson continues its sharp design implementation on the inside.

Our Highlander features leather-appointed trim, with heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and even a heated steering wheel to complete the set.

It’s a pleasantly designed cabin with a glossy black touch panel for your climate control interface positioned below a large 10.25-inch infotainment screen. It’s light, thanks to the big sunroof, and even offered in grey ($295) or black for a bit of extra contrast.

Rear occupants can move the front passenger seat forward with a powered button, which is handy (unless you’re sitting in said passenger seat), and there’s plenty of room back there too.

The heated seats recline and feature really convenient illuminated USB ports, as well as air vents, cup holders and a central armrest.

Simple things, like well-integrated vents and a dashboard that curves neatly into the door trims, make the car feel like a complete and ‘finished’ product.

The leather is soft and supple. The seats are comfortable and supportive.

Importantly too, for Melbourne at least, the heater is brilliant. I had it set to 21 degrees on Melbourne’s chilly seven and ten degree days and it was almost too hot.

It isn’t perfect though. Some of the ergonomics, especially regarding the buttons on the central armrest, are perhaps a little awkward to get to. The same can be said for some of the switchgear on the roof, they are just a bit unnaturally placed for my arms, which (last time I checked) are kind of regularly sized.

The 539-litre boot has a power tailgate that can be opened by the handle, kick sensor, key fob, or just standing next to it for three seconds with the key in your pocket. Lots of well thought out features, that make the car very practical, and don’t require multiple clutches or a sports exhaust to access.

2022 Hyundai Tucson Highlander FWD
Seats Five
Boot volume 539L seats up / 1860L seats folded
Length 4630mm
Width 1865mm
Height 1665mm
Wheelbase 2755mm

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How big is the screen in the Hyundai Tucson?

The Hyundai Tucson features a 10.25-inch LCD infotainment touch screen as well as a 10.25-inch fully digital instrument cluster.

This system, which is now familiar to most Hyundai and Kia models, is very well featured and mostly, well implemented.

I say mostly as some menu navigation points can be clumsy, but the cute nixie-tube radio tuner motif more than makes up for this.

There are plenty of features too, including DAB digital radio, device projection (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), twin USB ports (also illuminated) and a wireless phone charge pad. Sound is by Bose (eight speakers plus an amplifier) and it’s pretty good too.

Strangely, the lower-spec 8-inch infotainment system in the entry-grade Tucson variant supports wireless device projection, but this one doesn’t.

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Safety & Technology

Tested in 2021, the Tucson was awarded a five-star safety rating by ANCAP.

The car features seven airbags (including a front centre, and full-length side curtain bags), a pair of ISOFIX anchor points and a full suite of driver assistance technology.

Topping the trim grades has its benefits, so everything from AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking), blind-spot collision avoidance, and lane-keep assistance is here. You also get the handy ‘exit warning’ lights which advise occupants if a car is approaching from behind before they open a door.

2022 Hyundai Tucson Highlander FWD
ANCAP rating Five stars (tested 2021)
Safety report Link to ANCAP report

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How much does the Hyundai Tucson cost in Australia?

On the face of it then, the Tucson Highlander ‘Ritz’ (not its real name but we need to call it something) is a very well featured car with a fundamentally strong value proposition.

Servicing will cost $957 for Hyundai’s three-year package, or $1595 for the five-year option. These assume a maximum of 15,000km travelled in a 12-month period.

At a glance 2022 Hyundai Tucson Highlander FWD
Warranty Five years / unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs $957 (3 years), $1595 (5 years)

Fuel use on our test settled around 11 L/100km, which was higher than the combined-cycle claim (8.1L/100km) but spot on the urban claim. This matched the majority of our driving, as it will probably do for you too.

The mid-to-high $40k range does buy you a lot of choices though, so it is worth looking and comparing other vehicles in this segment, including the Kia Sportage, to see what best suits your needs.

You can even look at an entry-level Hyundai Santa Fe for the same spend ($45,550) if you need a bit more space.

Fuel Useage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 8.1L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 11.0L/100km
Fuel type 91RON Unleaded
Fuel tank size 54L

What is the Hyundai Tucson like to drive?

And so, the moment of truth. Can you successfully pair a basic driveline with a premium trim grade?

In short, yes. It’s not exciting, nor particularly engaging, but it works.

The 115kW/192Nm 2.0-litre engine is modest compared to the 132kW/265Nm turbocharged 1.6L petrol and 137kW/416Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel, but it is not terrible.

Peak power naturally comes high in the rev range (6200rpm) and you need to work for peak torque (4500rpm), but the motor feels willing off the line and just builds linearly as you power onward.

There’s a bit of hustle but it’s not the zippiest thing on the road. It’s enough though, and that’s what matters.

As noted above, we found it more aligned to the urban-end of the fuel consumption cycle, with double the thirst of something like a RAV4 Hybrid, but again not wildly different to anything else without electricity or turbo-charging to even things out.

Changing the drive mode into ECO slackens the throttle response and feels a bit softer and smoother in terms of power delivery but doesn’t really give you a material change in your fuel consumption.

It’s lower, as you’re not revving it as hard, but not dramatically so.

At the other end of the scale, if you put it into SPORT, you get a cool Avengers-style animated change on your instrument cluster, which is quite fun.

Here, the throttle frees up and things seem busier, but very little really changes.

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To be clear, aside from playing with the animated graphics at the traffic lights, you will leave this car in normal mode all the time.

As matured as the Tucson has become though, it isn’t as dynamically proficient as some of its European or Japanese competitors. The car can feel soft and almost heavy into a corner, even an urban roundabout, and it’s here where the step to all-wheel-drive may seem like a worthy one.

Ride comfort on the big wheels is also not a strong point, with sharper edges translating into the cabin more than we’d like. Smaller wheels and a bigger tyre sidewall may mitigate this, but that means stepping down a grade and losing some of the Highlander’s street appeal.

If you’re coming from a Mazda CX-5, you’ll notice the difference, but if you’re not, and your use is primarily sub-suburban, then once again, the Tucson manages well enough.

This all said though, the Tucson is very easy to drive. It’s not direct and sharp, but it’s compliant and comfortable enough.

Key details 2022 Hyundai Tucson Highlander FWD
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power 115kW @ 6200rpm
Torque 192Nm @ 4500rpm
Drive type Front-wheel drive
Transmission Six-speed torque converter automatic
Power to weight ratio 75.3kW/t
Weight 1527kg
Tow rating 1650kg braked
Turning circle 11.8m

Should I buy a Hyundai Tucson?

I really like the approach Hyundai has taken with the Tucson in this format.

Maybe because I spent much of my time in lockdown trying fancy cheeses on ordinary biscuits, but maybe because the idea of a high-spec car with all the goodies that many buyers want can exist away from a more expensive driveline that many buyers don’t need.

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson Highlander FWD is practical, stylish and well-featured, plus it’s fundamentally nice to live with, even if it isn’t exciting or engaging.

It’s not as efficient as a RAV4, but it feels more premium than a RAV4. It’s not as pleasant to drive as a CX-5, but it’s more modern and better equipped than a CX-5. The Sportage is perhaps a bit better as an all-rounder but has no direct comparison specification for this car.

To that end, the ‘Ritz’ Tucson is a smart and stylish option for many buyers who want all the trimmings with none of the fuss.

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Ratings Breakdown

2022 Hyundai Tucson Highlander Wagon

8.0/ 10


Handling & Dynamics

Driver Technology

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

Fuel Efficiency

Value for Money

Fit for Purpose

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James Ward

James has been part of the digital publishing landscape in Australia since 2002 and has worked within the automotive industry since 2007. He joined CarAdvice in 2013, left in 2017 to work with BMW and then returned at the end of 2019 to spearhead the content direction of Drive.

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