Review: 2023 Hyundai Tucson beats the boring
The new-generation Hyundai Tucson offers lots of options and great style against its rivals. With the choice of two gasoline engines and two hybrids, this small SUV makes a good case for itself.
At a glance
- Smooth, predictable, and well-established ride quality
- Just enough engine power
- Lots of technology and assistance features
- Fuel economy a bit disappointing
The Hyundai Tucson underwent a complete overhaul for the 2022 model year, and the 2023 year sees just a couple of small changes. This small crossover competes in a pretty healthy arena of options where mainstays like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 generally dominate. The Tucson sets itself apart with striking design, attention to interior comfort details, and the industry’s best warranty. It's available as a gasoline, gas-electric hybrid, or plug-in hybrid.
We drove the standard gasoline model in a mid-level XRT trim, which uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that outputs 187 horsepower (137.5 kW). Definitely not a race car, but the engine’s output was adequate to the needs of a vehicle this size. Fuel economy was good, thanks largely to the well-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission the Tucson uses. The EPA rates the standard gasoline model at 28 mpg (8.4 l/100km) on the highway with all-wheel drive. Our test resulted in 26.5 mpg (8.9 l/100km), which is close enough given our high altitude, the installed ski rack, and the engine’s lack of turbocharging.
The hybrid model of the 2023 Hyundai Tucson combines a gasoline engine with electric motors in a parallel setup through a six-speed automatic transmission. This is rated at 36 mpg (6.5 l/100km) on the highway, which is below par for most hybrids in the small SUV segment. The Tucson Plug-in Hybrid model, which has about 33 miles (53 km) of all-electric range, is EPA rated at 80 MPGe (2.9 l/100km). That’s about average for a PHEV in the segment.
At its base level, the 2023 Tucson comes pretty well equipped for a US$28,000 vehicle. An 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as are advanced safety features like forward collision mitigation, driver attention warning, and lane-keeping assist. Adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitor and intervention are also standard. That’s more equipment than most base models in the small SUV market offer as standard.
The exterior of the 2023 Hyundai Tucson is remarkably busy and striking for a vehicle being sold in a segment that has taken over from the boring family car market. Whereas most crossovers in this group are going the way of the mid-sized sedans of yesteryear with basic don't-rock-the-boat looks, the Tucson has edges, lines, and a sharpness to it that stands well apart ... but not so far apart that it becomes the oddball wallflower. The Tucson is eye-catching and smart, comparatively.
Inside, Hyundai put visible effort into creating a useful, comfortable, and ergonomic cabin. There are things that annoy, such as the lack of tactile buttons on the console for upper-end models with the bigger infotainment screen. Storage options are good and the rear cargo space is wide and accessible. Seating is comfortable and in today’s world of faux leather upholstery as the norm, it’s good to see solid cloth options with this Hyundai.
The drive quality and maneuverability of the 2023 Tucson is nothing to write home about. It’s average. A bit boring. Not terribly exceptional in any way. Which, if we’re going to continue the mid-sized sedan theme for small crossovers, is about what’s expected here. Sport driving in this segment is mostly relegated to the premium and luxury brands.
Overall, Hyundai did a good job with the new Tucson. It stands out for its good looks, great warranty, and equipment list. But that’s counterweighted by its only so-so fuel economy and lack of driving pizazz.
Product page: 2023 Hyundai Tucson