2022 Car Wheels of the Year: Hyundai Tucson

meIt’s Hyundais’ barrage at COTY this year, though none come with the same level of commercial importance as the mid-size Tucson SUV.

Competing in the nation’s most popular automotive segment after utes, Tucson is a high-volume player that competes with the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester and fellow stablemate in this particular field, the Kia Sportage.

The fourth generation Hyundai Tucson follows its predecessor with a myriad of variants, but choosing one for the COTY wasn’t that difficult.

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First, choosing the 2.0-liter turbo diesel over the alternative gasoline engine was a no-brainer: the 2.0-liter base fuel is weak, and the 1.6-liter turbo is hampered by a dual-clutch drive.

Second, the $45,000 Elite is a mid-spec model that offers worthwhile additions on the base Tucson while providing significant savings over the range-topping Highlander.

Our COTY test car’s value is enhanced with an optional N-Line package that, for just $2,000, adds a full suite of goodies including LED headlights, full-size digital display, leather/suede upholstery, and auto beam The higher elevation, and several exterior/interior trim elements give the Tucson a slightly sportier look – read: looks better.

A Brook 220211 COTY 2022 Hyundai Tucson Elite 14

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If we limit our personal views on the design to our resident auto designer, Richard is quietly impressed. “Exterior and interior design is not trendy but nice and contemporary.”

But on the more substantive issues…

All cars can be tested against Car of the Year standards, but it’s impossible to ignore a form of comparison when two closely related vehicles are in the mix.

And so it was not ignored; The Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage are integrated into the same drivetrain to make sure the judges can test them back-to-back. Variations were detected on the test ground, including the ESC calibrations.

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“Oddly enough, the Tucson’s stability control and traction intelligence are more intrusive on gravel than the Sportage — it’s overly nurturing,” Curt said. “It seems that traction control is forced into an old-school approach to turn off the power taps completely rather than trying to come up with a response that allows progression.”

“Decent oiler; It pairs well with the automatic torque converter.” – Kurt Dobries

However, all the judges acknowledged that the system was at least doing its job to keep the driver straight and tight. And it was Hyundai that handled the emergency lane-change maneuver with greater excellence.

“The Tucson was less complex than the Sportage, containing its mass more convincingly,” Alex noted.

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There was also a common disappointment that the N-Line badge didn’t bring any performance or dynamic gains to the Tucson as it does with other Hyundai models, yet there was still widespread praise for the SUV’s good levels of handling, decent steering, power and handling in a five-cycle percent of the gradient.

The 2.0-liter turbo diesel wasn’t quite as popular as the Palisade’s 2.2-liter diesel, with judges hailing some criticism of the engine’s slightly rough and sloppy nature.

There was also questioning about the lack of new-generation engines — including a much-needed hybrid option that should help give the Toyota RAV4 a tougher experience for its money.

E-Dewar 220211 COTY 2022 Hyundai Tucson Elite 1

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While every element of cabin technology didn’t tick the judges’ boxes — like the driver’s digital display and lack of wireless phone charging in everything but the Highlander — the interior was seen as a major improvement.

This is especially true of the increased cabin space that comes as a natural result of the car’s larger dimensions.

It’s a joint improvement with the Sportage, of course.

Dylan summed up the inevitable comparison. “Choosing between this and Sportage is like choosing between Kokian and Pepsi.”

The question is whether the Kia tastes a little sweeter to go ahead…



















Price / As tested $45,000 / $47,000
engine 1998cc 4cyl turbo diesel
Energy 137 kW @ 4000 rpm
torque 416 Nm @ 2000-2750 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Weight 1810 kg (claimed)
fuel 6.3 l / 100 km, diesel
length, width, height 4640 / 1865 / 1665 mm
wheelbase 2755 mm
safety 5 stars (ANCAP)
0-100 km/h 8.5 seconds
Weight (heavier than required) 130 kg
Noise at 100 km/h 68.2 dB

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