I drove Hyundai’s best-selling SUV and found it’s a perfect hybrid for people who don’t like hybrids

I drove Hyundai’s best-selling SUV and found it’s a perfect hybrid for people who don’t like hybrids

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A blue 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SUV parked in front of green wooded area.
A 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SUV in Limited trim.

  • The Hyundai Tucson Hybrid is a compact crossover SUV that rivals competitors from Toyota and Honda.
  • I enjoyed the Tucson Hybrid’s stylish looks, new tech, solid performance, and fuel efficiency.
  • I was disappointed with the somewhat unrefined drivetrain and transmission. 

Compact crossover SUVs are now the most popular form of automobile on American roads, accounting for roughly 1 in 5 new vehicles sold during the first quarter of this year, according to data from Cox Automotive.

For the last 20 years, Hyundai’s offering in this crucial segment has been the Tucson.

During that time, the strikingly stylish Tucson has not only evolved into the brand’s best-selling model, with nearly 210,000 units sold in 2023. It’s also one of the most popular models in the segment, in its fourth generation that launched in 2021.

I recently spent a week with a 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited AWD around the roads of suburban Atlanta to see why it’s so popular with buyers.
The front end of a 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SUV.
The 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited has a quiet cabin.

I was impressed. The Tucson Hybrid is a great little SUV with a quiet cabin, comfortable ride, loads of tech, peppy performance, and futuristic looks. But it isn’t perfect — The unrefined engine and transmission proved to be a bit of an annoyance.

The SUV is available in traditional internal combustion (ICE) form, as a hybrid (HEV), and as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

The base Tucson SE in front-wheel-drive (FWD) starts at $27,500, while the top-spec Tucson Limited Plug-in Hybrid with all-wheel-drive (AWD) starts at $45,450.

My test car, a Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited with AWD, starts at $39,465. With fees, the car carried a price of $41,010.

The Tucson Hybrid competes with a handful of HEV rivals in the segment.
A blue 2024 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid in XSE trim.
The 2024 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid XSE is a top rival.

The Tucson Hybrid goes head-to-head with the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Honda CR-V Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, and its corporate cousin, the Kia Sportage Hybrid.

While some versions of Tucson are made at Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery, Alabama, the Tucson Hybrid is assembled in Ulsan, South Korea.

What immediately stands out about the Tucson are its striking looks.
The front grille of a 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited SUV.
The Hyundai Tucson Hybrid has a striking front grille.

The Tuscon’s stylish sheet metal is the work of a team led by Hyundai’s chief of global design, SangYup Lee, whose other works include the Bentley Bentayga and the 5th generation Chevrolet Camaro of Bubblebee fame.

The striking design starts with the parametric jewel pattern front grille, created using geometric algorithms instead of traditional sketches or drawings. The coolest part of the design is the LED daytime running lights embedded into the grille that look like dark chrome when turned off.

The geometric shapes continue beyond the front grille.
A dark blue Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SUV parked in front of green woods.
The 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid in Limited trim.

The overall design of the Tuscon is punctuated with sharp, chiseled surfaces. According to Hyundai, the prominent angular wheel arches are styled to evoke vehicles created by Bertone, the defunct Italian design house responsible for some of the wildest supercars of the 1960s and 70s.

I’m a fan of the Tucson’s optional 19-inch alloys.
The 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SUV's optional 19-inch wheels.
The Tucson Hybrid’s optional 19-inch alloy wheels.

Lower-trim models come with 17-inch wheels.

The rear of the Tucson features vertical LED taillights protruding from a light bar that runs across the tailgate.
The rear end of a 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SUV.
The tailgate of our Tucson Hybrid SUV.

Hyundai has also hidden the rear wiper under the spoiler.

The Tucson is about an inch longer than the Toyota RAV4, but 2.5 inches shorter than the Honda CR-V.
The side profile of a 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited SUV.
The Tucson Hybrid’s side profile.

All wheel drive variants of the Tucson, such as my test vehicle, offer 8.3 inches of ground clearance, which is virtually identical to that of comparable RAV4 and CR-V models. Ground clearance for front wheel drive variants drops down to 7.1 inches.

The interior is comfortable and relaxing.
The dashboard and front seats of the 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited.
The Tucson Hybrid’s cabin.

Aesthetically, the front dash and center console are designed to remind occupants of water meeting a central point before flowing down a waterfall.

I was a fan of the diffuser vents that line the entire width of the front dash. They augment the Tucson’s traditional air conditioning vents and give the occupants the feeling of a gentle, evenly distributed breeze.

Material and build quality felt good but did not convey the same solid feeling one would find in a Toyota or Honda. I like the minimalist look of the shiny black piano material on the center console, but I also found it incredibly prone to smudges and scratches.

The Tucson’s overall cabin ergonomics were sound. The touch-sensitive infotainment and climate control buttons on the dash were easy to use, although I would have preferred a physical volume knob.

The leather-trimmed front seats are heated and ventilated.
The leather front seats of the 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SUV.
The Tucson Hybrid’s front seats.

Front-seat passengers have access to a wireless phone charger, two USB-A plugs, and a 12V socket.

I also liked the push-button shifter that frees up space above the center console.
A 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid center console's push-button shifter and cup holders.
The Hyundai Tucson’s push-button shifter.

And the novel footwell map pockets that provide additional cabin storage.
The passenger seat footwell and map pockets of a 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SUV.
The Tucson Hybrid has a map pocket built into the center console.

The optional panoramic sunroof helps support the relaxing feel of the cabin.
The cabin of a 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited is equipped with a panoramic sunroof.
The Tucson Hybrid’s panoramic sunroof.

The cabin is also equipped with 64-color ambient lighting and an ultrasonic rear occupant alert system.

In front of the driver is a nicely molded, leather-wrapped steering wheel.
From the driver's seat, the steering wheel of a 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SUV.
The Tucson’s steering wheel.

The instrument display is home to a blind-spot monitor.
The Hyundai Tucson Hybrid's instrument cluster with its driver's side blind spot monitor camera activated.
The driver’s side blind spot monitor activated.

It uses rear-view-mirror-mounted cameras to give drivers a view of their blind spots when changing lanes.
The Hyundai Tucson Hybrid's instrument cluster with the passenger side blind spot monitor camera activated.
The passenger side blind spot view monitor activated.

Here’s a closer look at the camera.
One of the 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SUV's rear-view mirror-mounted side cameras.
One of the 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SUV’s rear-view mirror-mounted side cameras.

The Tucson Hybrid Limited also uses cameras to create a 360-degree overhead view of the vehicle.
The Hyundai Tucson Hybrid's backup camera's overhead view.
An overhead view of the Tucson Hybrid.

In addition, the Tucson Hybrid Limited is equipped with a complete suite of advanced driver safety aids, including adaptive cruise control, forward collision avoidance assist, lane keep and lane following assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, and parking collision avoidance assist.

It’s also equipped with remote smart parking assist, or as they called it in the commercial, “Smaht Pahk“” which can pull a vehicle into and out of a parking space with the driver outside the car.

The Tucson Hybrid is powered by a 1.6 liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine working in unison with an electric drive motor.
The 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid's engine compartment with a 1.6-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder engine.
The Tucson Hybrid’s 1.6-liter turbocharged engine.

The Tucson Hybrid’s 1.6-liter engine produces 180 horsepower, while the electric motor is rated for 59 horsepower. The total output is 226 horsepower and is mated to a traditional six-speed automatic transmission.

The Tucson Hybrid is equipped with a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

The plug-in hybrid version comes with a more powerful, 90-hp electric drive motor, a larger 13.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and an onboard charging port.

The internal combustion-only version of the Tucson is powered by a 187 horsepower, 2.5-liter, normally aspirated, four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

ICE-only Tucson comes with front-wheel-drive with all-wheel-drive as an option.

So, what’s it like to drive?
The 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited's driver's seat.
The Tucson Hybrid’s driver’s seat.

The Tucson Hybrid doesn’t drive like a hybrid. Much of that can be attributed to Hyundai’s decision to go with a traditional six-speed automatic transmission instead of an E-CVT gearbox found in rivals like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid.

As a result, the Tucson Hybrid feels virtually identical to a traditional ICE vehicle, while the RAV4 and Escape Hybrids feel more akin to a pure BEV.

Under hard acceleration, the Tucson Hybrid takes a split second before the power kicks in like a traditional ICE vehicle, unlike other hybrids where you feel the instantaneous torque of the electric motor before the ICE engine takes over.

According to MotorTrend, the 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid can reach 60 mph from a standstill in a respectable 7.8 seconds.

I only have two real gripes with the driving experience.

Even though the 1.6-liter engine delivers strong and smooth power when called upon, the intrusive, high-pitched noise it makes under hard acceleration can be jarring. In addition, the six-speed transmission has a tendency to hesitate during low-speed driving leading to abrupt gear changes. Both take away from the Tucson’s generally refined driving experience.

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Overall, the Tucson Hybrid delivered solid acceleration and sure-footed handling with a quiet and comfortable ride.

The SUV had impressive fuel economy for a 3,800-pound, all-wheel-drive SUV.
The 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited's 10.25-inch digital instrument display showing the flow of energy in the hybrid system.
The hybrid system in action.

The Tuscon Hybrid Limited boasts EPA fuel economy figures of 37 mpg city, 36 mpg highway, and 37 mpg in combined driving.

The Tucson Hybrid isn’t as efficient as the RAV4 Hybrid. However, the RAV4 doesn’t have a true mechanical all-wheel-drive like the Tucson. Instead, it uses 149-hp electric motor to power the rear wheels to create a virtual all-wheel-drive.

During my time with the Tucson Hybrid, I fell a few mpg short of the EPA fuel economy ratings. However, my numbers were negatively affected by more aggressive than normal throttle application and extended periods of idling.

For comparison, the internal combustion-only Tucson with AWD is rated for 23 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined.

The Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited is equipped with a touchscreen infotainment system.
A 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid's center console with a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment screen and touch-sensitive climate controls.
The Tucson Hybrid Limited’s optional 10.25 infotainment screen.

The 10.25-inch screen is standard on higher trim levels, but lower trim levels get a smaller, 8-inch touchscreen.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all models. However, only vehicles with the smaller screen get wireless CarPlay and Android Auto.

The rear seats are trimmed in soft leather and heated.
The white leather back seats of a 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SUV.
The Tucson Hybrid’s back seats.

Occupants in the roomy rear cabin get an impressive 41.3 inches of legroom which is on par with the Honda CR-V and beats the RAV4 by 3.5 inches.

The rear seat passengers are also treated to dedicated air vents and USB-A plugs.
The 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid's rear seat air vents and USB plugs.
Rear seat USB plugs and air vents.

The Tucson Hybrid Limited is equipped with a smart power liftgate.
The tailgate of a 2024 Tucson Hybrid SUV.
The Tucson Hybrid from the back.

The liftgate triggers if you stand within three feet of the rear bumper for more than three seconds while possessing the key fob. This is a departure from rival systems that require the driver to swing their leg under the back bumper.

Open the liftgate and you’ll find 38.7 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats.
A 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid with its tailgate opened.
The Tucson Hybrid’s cargo area.

There’s no spare tire. Instead, there’s a tire repair kit in the underfloor storage area where the spare wheel would have been.
The 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid's tire repair kit is located in an underfloor storage area.
The Hyundai Tucson’s tire repair kit.

With the rear seats folded, the Tucson Hybrid boasts 74.5 cubic feet of cargo space.
The cabin of a 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid with the back seats folded.
The Tucson’s cargo area with the rear seats folded down.

It’s not perfect: The drivetrain needs further refinement and improved interior material quality.
The large front grille and headlights of a 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited SUV
The Tucson Hybrid’s prominent front grille.

With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Korean hybrid.

The Tucson Hybrid is a great choice for someone who wants the performance and feel of a pure ICE vehicle but the efficiency of a hybrid.

This is something few vehicles can deliver these days.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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