Class: Compact Crossover
Passenger capacity: 5
Color: Amazon Gray
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||A-|
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||B+|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||261-horsepower 1.6L|
|Engine Type||4-cyl turbocharged plug-in hybrid|
Miles driven: 252
Real-world fuel economy: 109.0 mpg
Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 56 MPGe/23 mpg (city/highway combined)
EPA-estimated EV range: 33 miles
Fuel type: Regular gasoline recommended
Base price: $56,260 (not including $1795 destination charge)
Options: Special paint ($395)
Price as tested: $67,450
The great: Classy cabin, smooth EV/gas integration
The good: Roomy front-row, easy-to-use controls
The not so good: Capacitive buttons below touchscreen slow to respond
Want to hear something silly? By some estimates, owners of plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) are only plugging in their vehicles half of the time. This per a couple of studies conducted in Europe. But don’t get smug, I can’t imagine American PHEV owners are doing much better.
Here’s the problem: PHEVs cost more than conventional (non-plug-in) hybrid vehicles, and return lower fuel-economy when operating in hybrid mode. The reduced mileage comes largely as a result of the added weight of the plug-in-hybrid battery. In the case of the Hyundai Tucson Plug-in Hybrid—which we are about to talk about–we’re looking at about 500 pounds of added bulk.
Now, if you are prepared to plug your plug-in in (how about this sentence?) that added quarter ton makes all the difference in the world, because the Tucson Plug-in Hybrid is an outstanding vehicle, and it’s even better operating in electric mode.
Redesigned for the 2022 model year, the Tucson compact crossover is little changed for ’23. The lineup includes five models featuring a conventional 4-cylinder powertrain, and front- or all-wheel drive (AWD). Also offered are three hybrid models: base Blue, SEL, and Limited. Only two plug-in-hybrid models are offered: SEL and Limited. All hybrid and plug-in hybrid models come with a 6-speed automatic and AWD.
Including destination charge, the Tucson Plug-in Hybrid SEL lists for $36,695, and the Limited $44,495. For the added $7800, the Limited includes: an automatic tailgate, leather seating surfaces, a larger touchscreen (10.25 inches versus 8.0), Bose audio, wireless device charging, heated steering wheel, digital key, instrument-panel blind-spot view monitor, rain-sensing wipers, ambient cabin lighting, and Hyundai’s Highway Driving Assist (HAD).
The Tucson plug-in hybrid powertrain teams a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine with hybrid assist and a 13.8-kWh battery. The battery provides an EPA-estimated 33 miles of electric-only range. The combined systems produced a stout 261 horsepower.
Consumer Guide tested a 2022 Tucson Plug-in Hybrid Limited in Amazon Gray.
Much like the Hyundai Palisade in topline Calligraphy trim, the Tucson in Limited trim comes across as a premium-brand vehicle. The cabin is mostly lined with high-quality materials, and the fit and finish Is top notch. We remain fans of Hyundai’s easy-to-use, easy-to-read infotainment system interface, and appreciate the larger screen included on the Limited trim level. Note: We did find the capacitive buttons below the touch screens slow to respond. The response delay lengthens in cold weather. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it is annoying.
There’s plenty of space onboard the Tucson for four adults, and entry and exit maneuvers are made easier by wide door openings. As with most compact crossovers, three-across seating in the second row is pretty much theoretical.
Under way in electric mode the Tucson Plug-in Hybrid pulls from a stop silently. As there is no masking engine noise, some road and tire noise make their way into the cabin, though the effect isn’t unpleasant. Power comes on with satisfying immediacy, and there’s plenty of oomph for passing and merging maneuvers.
Hit the “gas” hard enough and the engine will kick in to provide additional power. It is here that the Tucson Plug-in Hybrid distinguishes itself from most other plug-in hybrids, even from luxury makers. The smooth interplay between gas and electric driving is impressive, and makes for an especially pleasant drive experience.
Also rewarding is the Tucson’s ride and handling. I’ve said this about other electric and plug-in electrics: If you’re looking for it, you can sense the mass of the battery as your round corners and take on on-ramps, but most folks will find this plug-in Hyundai sporty and sure footed. There’s even a little bit of steering feel, which we appreciate.
Here’s the coolest part of our story: Plugging in as often as we could, we saw 109 mpg during our 252-mile evaluation. While this number is meaningless if your situation is different e.g., you live farther from the office, or can’t charge as often, it does demonstrate the potential benefit of driving a plug-in hybrid—and charging often.
During a period of relatively mild, battery-friendly temperatures, we saw better than the EPA-estimated 33 miles of EV range, and clearly we made the most of that situation.
Note that the Toyota RAV4 Prime, and Tucson corporate stable mate Kia Sportage Plug-in Hybrid are also excellent ways to go nearly electric without worrying about finding the next charging station. Note also that the RAV4 Prime is also wicked fast.
We’re very impressed by the Tucson Plug-in, and find it a nearly compromise-free way to use less gas while enjoying the drive. If you can live without all the luxury trappings, the SEL trim level provides the same drive experience less almost $8000. Now there’s a great deal. Just don’t be like those lazy Europeans, remember to plug-in.
2022 Hyundai Tucson Plug-in Hybrid Limited Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)