|Positives: Head-turning exterior design, spacious and well-executed cabin, a tremendous level of standard features, a smooth and refined driving experience, great efficiency, quick in Sport mode.
|Negatives: Playing dress up without the off-road chops, annoying climate controls, could use more power.
|Bottom Line: The Tucson XRT is competent, comfortable, and nicely styled with the bulkier trim bits and updated fascias. It's just too bad that it doesn't get more ground clearance, an off-road drive mode, or more robust suspension components.
In Hybrid AWD trim, the Tucson is spritely, if not quick. Most importantly, it's a smooth operator and feels like a vehicle that should cost more. In terms of the overall driving experience, it's one of the better crossovers out there.
Ride Quality: The Tucson's chassis and suspension absorb impacts and bumps like a champ, and it's incredibly smooth over all kinds of surfaces.
Acceleration: We wouldn't call it speedy, but the acceleration in the Hybrid is palpable, as long as you keep it Sport mode and you can get past the initial lag off the line, which we found a bit disconcerting. Mash pedal, wait a half second, and then motion.
Braking: The regen brakes are good, and we didn't have any trouble bringing it to a stop. Pedal feel could be better, but that's regen for you.
Steering: Steering is light and precise. There's mild effort but pretty much no feedback.
Handling: The Tucson keeps its body roll in check and can manage curves pretty well. Just don't push it too hard.
Hyundai's infotainment is still very attractive and easy to use. Both the infotainment screen and the instrument cluster are crisp and nicely mounted on the dash. We don't especially like the touch controls for climate, the push-button shifter or the lack of a volume knob, but the in-car tech is otherwise excellent.
Infotainment System: The 8" touchscreen is smaller than the 10.25" version on the Limited trim, but menus are easy, and legibility is also very good. The system could respond more quickly to inputs, however.
Controls: The touch buttons for climate and audio are a little bit annoying (why not keep physical buttons?), and we hate the push-button shifter that's on the slow side in terms of responsiveness.
The Tucson looks like no other vehicle in its segment because of its dramatic bulges and creases, as well as that unique grille that allows the front lights to meld with it. XRT bits give it a tougher look. It's not necessarily better looking than the regular Tucson, but it is different. It's just disappointing that the changes aren't backed by actual off-road prowess.
Front: The Parametric grille and integrated DRLs look aggressive, and the lower bumper trim ditches the chrome and replaces it with tougher-looking black trim. The front end still looks quite handsome and doesn't deviate too much from the existing Tucson formula.
Rear: The triple-bladed LED taillights are some of the most interesting on any crossover, and, they integrate well with the full-width LED strip. The lower rear fascia gets black trim and a faux diffuser.
Profile: The bulges, cuts, and creases are very dramatic, but they work well to give the profile a muscular and premium look. The fender trim is even more pronounced on the XRT trim, and it provides additional muscularity to the side view. The dark wheels nicely match the side mirrors, but they're a bit flat for our liking.
Cabin: The interior is decidedly less posh than the Limited version. The cloth seats looks good with some decorative stitching. The layout is clean and unobtrusive, but it is on the dark side.
The Tucson's cabin comfortable even in a non-premium state. Instead of leather or vinyl, the XRT has cloth seats. In terms of space, it's pretty impressive in both rows and actual adults can find comfortable seating positions.
Front Seats: The dark cloth is nice, coupled with broad seatbacks and proper cushioning to make for very comfortable seating even on longer drives.
Rear Seats: Legroom for rear occupants is significant at 41.3 inches. Six-footers can easily sit behind tall front-row occupants, and the outboard seats are very comfy.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Aside from the 1.6-liter engine being pushed hard, there's not much noise that enters the cabin. One of the Tucson's best features is its very hushed atmosphere.
Visibility: With the exception of the rear side view due to the angular D-pillar, the Tucson has very good visibility. The blind spot monitors in the gauge cluster are fantastic and help get around the obscured sightline.
Climate: The climate control system and big vents provide responsiveness and good air flow. The heated seats also work very well.
The Tucson gets some of the highest safety scores in its segment, nailing awards from the IIHS. It ranks up there with the likes of the Mazda CX-5, the Toyota RAV4, and above the 2022 Honda CR-V. It's also well-appointed with great safety features that come as standard equipment.
IIHS Rating: The Tucson line earned the Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS thanks to excellent crash test scores and superior crash avoidance & mitigation scores.
NHTSA Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist w/ Pedestrian Detection, Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist & Lane Following Assist, Safe Exit Warning & Driver Attention Warning, Park Distance Warning Front & Rear, Downhill Brake Control, Hillstart Assist Control, Tire Pressure Monitor w/ Individual Tire Indicator, and a Rearview Monitor w/ Parking Guidance
Optional Tech: None.
There's a lot to love about both the cabin storage areas and the rear cargo space. The Tucson ranks high in its competitive set with thoughtful compartments and an easy-to-use cargo area.
Storage Space: The large compartment at the front of the center console, coupled with a big armrest compartment, good door pockets, and storage on the sides of the center console make small gear easy to put away.
Cargo Room: The Hyundai Tucson gets 38.7 cubes behind row two and a sizable 74.8 with the seats folded flat. What's more, the opening is wide and flat for easy loading and storage. There's 38.7 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 74.8 cubic feet with these seats folded. The cargo area is wide, making it easy to load and unload bulkier items. It's slightly bigger than the VW Tiguan but still smaller than the huge Honda CR-V.
The Tucson is pretty efficient with fuel. We didn't meet EPA estimates because of our Sport mode driving. It should have no problem attaining the 37 mpg combined numbers.
Observed: 33.2. mpg
Distance Driven: 177 miles.
The XRT just so happens to get the premium Bose system from the Limited, and it sounds really good. We were able to dial up the bass and crank the tunes without any distortion.