The importance of hybrid vehicles as we make the transition to wide public adoption of EVs can’t be denied. While some people would prefer to skip over any technology that involves gas in any way, the reality is we’re not ready for an all-EV world yet.
So to have strong eco-friendly options like hybrid vehicles with great fuel mileage that can help bridge the gap until we are ready is essential, and thankfully some automakers still realize that.
One such automaker is Hyundai, which offers a hybrid version of its compact SUV — the Tucson (as well as several other vehicles in its lineup).
I recently spent some time testing the 2023 Hyundai Tucson hybrid, which sits just below the Santa Fe in terms of size in Hyundai’s lineup, and battles hybrid offerings from competitors including Toyota, Honda, Ford and corporate cousin Kia.
Read on for a full report on how it measures up vs. other hybrid SUVs.
- Vehicle: 2023 Hyundai Tucson hybrid
- Price as tested: $40,455
- Best feature: Strong fuel mileage, smooth and quiet ride
- Rating: 4.5 out of five stars
- Who will want this vehicle?: Compact SUV buyers seeking to limit trips to the gas station, strong tech setup, impressive drive quality
The 2022 redesign of the Tucson brought with it a standout grille and inset headlight design that carries over for 2023. There are also some bold sidelines included in the design of the vehicle that make it stand out from more generic compact SUV competition.
Also of note are the Tucson hybrid’s beautiful rims with unique styling that immediately catch your eye, even from a distance. And the Shimmering Silver paint job on my test vehicle was a head-turner. Overall it’s a fun and inviting look.
Other exterior features include a panoramic sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights and taillights and roof side rails. The vehicle clocks in at 182.3 inches long, 73.4 inches wide, and 65.6 inches tall, with a curb weight of 3,841 pounds.
The inside of the Tucson hybrid features a highly functional, user-friendly and upscale design, especially on higher trims. While not quite at a luxury level, nothing feels cheap and the overall vibe is modern with bright and ample-sized digital touchscreens.
You get impressive amounts of legroom and headroom in both rows compared to rival SUVs. Passenger volume is listed at 104 cubic feet, with an excellent 39 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row (and nearly 75 cubic feet with the second row folded down)..
The leather-trimmed seats are among the best quality and most comfortable seats you’ll find in the segment, and the Tucson lineup features ambient interior lighting, dual automatic temperature control, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
HOW’S THE RIDE?
The 2023 Hyundai Tucson hybrid is powered by a 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a 44.2-kW electric motor, which are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. It also features a 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
All hybrid versions of the Tucson come with AWD, though nonhybrids can be had with either FWD or AWD.
Total output numbers on the Tucson hybrid are 226 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. These numbers beat the nonhybrid version of the Tucson, which offers 187 horsepower and 178 pound-feet (from its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine).
Zero-to-60 acceleration is respectable in the Tucson hybrid, coming in at just over 7 seconds. This is better than the nonhybrid Tucson, which is more than a second slower in reaching the 60-mph marker. This is one of those scenarios where the hybrid not only offers better gas mileage, but also a better overall driving experience.
The Tucson hybrid offers a genuinely smooth and quiet ride that drivers will love. It handles well in the turns, and while not overly powerful it gets moving when you need it to. Drive modes available include Eco, Sport, Smart and Snow..
Shifting is done via buttons in the center console, which takes some time to get used to, but the setup helps improve the overall design of the vehicle.
The 2023 Hyundai Tucson hybrid features an impressive setup on the touchscreen, which comes in 8-inch or 10.3-inch versions depending on your trim level. Voice commands are easily understood by the system, and the touch commands are easy to master via a series of well-designed menus.
There are essentially no knobs on the system, which instead features all touch controls. Some drivers may not like it, but I quickly got used to it. Below the touchscreen were the climate controls.
The navigation system works well and features Point of Interest searches, and you can also get traffic updates. Wireless phone charging is featured, along with a pair of USB outlets in each row, and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for phone mirroring.
Other tech features include an optional Bose premium audio system, a 90-day trial of satellite radio, plus Bluelink Connected Services (which provides diagnostic and service alerts, among other features), and the ability to remotely lock/unlock your car via your smartphone.
Moving on to safety, the 2023 Tucson hybrid is a top safety pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This is due in large part to its excellent suite of safety systems that are featured.
Among the most notable is the surround view camera that provides a major boost to the driver’s awareness of their surroundings when making difficult maneuvers. There’s also an impressive basic self-driving system that stays within lanes, turns effectively and won’t worry the driver.
Among the Tucson’s safety bonafides are a full bevy of air bags, Automatic Emergency Braking (with pedestrian detection), Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Driver Attention Warning (monitors your level of alertness), Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Safe Exit Warning (warns of oncoming traffic when you are getting out of the vehicle), and Smart Cruise Control.
These features allow the Tucson hybrid to compete well with all its competitors in the area of safety.
The official fuel mileage numbers for the 2023 Hyundai Tucson hybrid I tested are 37 city/36 highway/37 combined.
These are strong numbers, though just slightly behind hybrids offered by some rival automakers, including Honda and Toyota.
In my real-world testing, I averaged roughly 35 mpg when driving conservatively, and closer to 33 mpg when using Sport mode and having a bit more fun. These are a bit off the listed numbers, but close enough where the results were still impressive.
Fuel savings are where hybrids can really sell themselves, and the Tucson will definitely limit your trips to the pump. The math comes out to an estimated $1,000 per year to fill the car up for the normal range of 10K to 12K miles of driving per year.
And it’s another example of how hybrids can help people be eco-friendly without having to resort to a full EV offering.
If you choose the nonhybrid Tucson, the best you’ll do is 26 mpg city/33 mpg highway.
The 2023 Tucson hybrid I tested was priced just over $40,000, while the base price for the hybrid starts about $32K, and the nonhybrid Tucson starts around $28K.
These are decent prices for the segment, settling in the middle between some higher-priced compact hybrid offerings and some that are slightly less expensive.
There are a wide variety of trim levels on the nonhybrid Tucson including: SE, SEL, XRT, N Line and Limited. The hybrid comes in three versions: Blue Hybrid, SEL Convenience Hybrid and Limited Hybrid. The Tucson even offers a plug-in hybrid version, making a truly diverse list of offerings ranging in price from $28K to $46K.
One factor that may draw people to the Tucson hybrid over its rivals is the industry-leading Hyundai warranty coverage, including:
- 5 years/60K miles new vehicle warranty
- 10 years/100K miles powertrain warranty
- 10 years/100K mile hybrid system components warranty
- 10 years/100K mile hybrid battery warranty
- 5 years/unlimited mile roadside assistance
- 3 years/36K mile complimentary maintenance
The 2023 Hyundai Tucson hybrid offers strong fuel economy, plus a smooth and quiet ride that’s also powerful and responsive when you need it. It’s a real sleeper in its category that will surprise a lot of shoppers who want a hybrid powertrain on their SUV.
Even those who may be considering the nonhybrid version of the Tucson are likely to be tempted to choose the hybrid option instead.
Matt Myftiu can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His past reviews can all be seen online at autotechreviews.com. Follow AutoTechReviews on Instagram at @Autotechreviews.