Base Camp: 2022 Hyundai Tucson Essential
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By any standard, Hyundai often sets the bar for smart economics. When the Tucson was introduced about a decade ago, it was marketed as the brand’s most affordable way to get into a crossover-type vehicle. The model has grown since then – there are now two smaller rigs in Hyundai showrooms, in fact – but the 2022 Tucson continues to bring the goods in terms of value-for-money.
The model kicks off with its $27,699 Essential trim, powered by a 2.5-litre engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The combination is good for 187 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, all of which is funneled to the front wheels. All-wheel drive is available for $2,000. Whether it’s necessary for wide swaths of the country is up for debate, though we will note that sum will net buyers a dandy set of winter tires for their front-driver with money left over.
Hyundai likes to make dramatic changes in the styling of its vehicles when introducing a new generation, and the 2022 Tucson is no different. Its adventurous face incorporates numerous LED lighting features right into its grille, meaning there will be no mistaking this thing on the road at night. Hyundai continues the irritating tradition of offering its base cars only in colours on the greyscale, rubbing salt in the wound by offering Crystal White as the lone zero dollar option. At least the doors and mirrors are colour-keyed.
Inside, the news is much better. An 8-inch touchscreen display offers up wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, permitting drivers to leave their phones in a pocket where it belongs. Cloth seats are heated up front, air conditioning is standard, and the button-laden steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake. There is also no shortage of USB ports and 12V outlets, including one in the cargo area. There’s heat in those side view mirrors, too.
All manner of active safety features are included, with the likes of lane keeping and forward collision-avoidance assists keeping things on the straight and narrow. Non-adaptive cruise control (meaning you have to keep an eye on the speed of others) is on tap as well.
What We’d Choose
It’s hard to throw rocks at a bargain, especially when that bargain is wearing a Hyundai badge. The $2,400 walk to a Preferred trim one rung up the ladder is a decent chunk of change at this end of the food chain. One does get items like adaptive cruise control and blind-spot collision-avoidance for their money, plus interior niceties like leather-wrapped touch points and a remote starter.
Still, unless one simply must have those particular items, the base model is equipped with exactly the same powertrain and its feature count is vast for less than $30,000. Smart economics, indeed.