Hyundai started offering hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains for their best selling Tucson compact SUV for the 2022 model year.
All Tucson hybrids come standard with all-wheel drive and get between 35 to 38 mpg combined, with the PHEV model adding 33 miles of electric range.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the common issues and complaints owners have had with the Tucson Hybrid since its release.
Table of Contents
1. Delayed Acceleration
A common issue that happens in both the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid is that it will sometimes lag for two to three seconds before accelerating from a stop or when creeping at low speeds.
Even if you aggressively step on the accelerator and see that the engine is revving, it won’t actually start moving until a few moments later.
Some people end up stepping on the accelerator pedal even more to get the car to move, which causes the car to lunge forward once it does respond.
It happens more often when trying to accelerate up an incline from a stop or at speeds below 3 mph.
Here’s how a few Tucson owners described the issue:
“My 2022 SEL hybrid has a very annoying acceleration delay after a full stop. The delay has always been there. It is present no matter which mode the car is on. It is not a matter of slow acceleration, but a 1-2 second delay of anything happening after I press the pedal.”
In my 22 Tucson Hybrid SEL, I tried to accelerate from a stop onto a busy street with cars coming. I thought the car stalled.
“In most ways I love my hybrid Tucson, but it seems when I’m stopped, especially if I’m on a hill of any size, the car hesitates (for more than half a beat) and then jumps forward as I press more on the gas to get it to go again. This is worst in eco mode, and I notice it the least in sport mode.”
It’s worth noting that the hybrid models of the Tucson use a traditional 6-speed automatic, so they’re not affected by the DCT (Dual-Clutch Transmission) problems of the non-hybrid Tucson.
This delayed acceleration or hesitation is a normal characteristic of Hyundai’s hybrid system and has been observed since the introduction of the Sonata Hybrid over 10 years ago.
The Santa Fe Hybrid, as well as the Kia hybrids which use the same hybrid powertrain, also have similar complaints.
Since it happens very rarely, most people barely notice that it even occurs. It also hasn’t caused any long-term reliability issues, so it’s mostly a minor annoyance that you’ll have to get used to over time.
2. Engine Rattle
A number of Hyundai Tucson Hybrid owners have noticed that the engine makes a rattling noise whenever it’s subjected to a sustained load.
The noise usually occurs at around 2,000 to 3,000 RPM when accelerating uphill. Some owners have also called it a knocking or pinging sound.
It’s only been reported for the hybrid models and not the PHEV, but both cars use the same 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. The same engine is also used in the hybrid versions of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sportage and Kia Sorento.
Here’s how a few Tucson Hybrid owners described their issue:
“I have a new Tucson Hybrid SEL with just over 1,500 miles on it. When in 1st & 2nd gear, I’m hearing a strange noise coming from the engine, almost like a knocking kind of sound. It’s especially pronounced under load going up a hill.”
“On my 2022 Hybrid 1.6 Turbo I notice a rattling sound from the engine not pinging. It does it on part throttle if you hold a gear with paddle shifter and bring on the gas.”
“With my 2022 Tucson hybrid, when accelerating or going up a hill the engine sounds like someone is running a roll of nickels through it.”
Not all Tucson Hybrids are affected by this issue. Most dealers say that there’s nothing to be concerned about and affected cars don’t throw any codes to indicate that there’s a problem.
The noise could be coming from the valvetrain or the injectors. Modern fuel injectors do have a reputation for being extremely noisy and rattle quite a bit.
3. Transmission Whine
A couple of Tucson Hybrid and PHEV owners have complained about a loud whining or howling noise whenever they lift their foot off the gas and let the vehicle coast at slow speeds.
The noise is similar to a whirring electric motor. Some have also described it as sounding like tire noise or a bad wheel bearing.
Here is how a few owners described their issue:
“I’ve owned my 2022 Tucson Hybrid for a week. Everything was fine the first 4 days. Suddenly my MPG average went from 35 to 27, but even worse, I hear a very loud whirring sound while driving.”
“I have a Limited PHEV with around 1,400 miles on it. I gradually realized that a loud, whining sound in EV mode, somewhat intermittent but usually present when coasting down a slight hill.”
“I just purchased our new Tucson. It ran great the first 5 days or so. All of the sudden it’s making this super loud noise while driving. This noise is audible at most speeds (Probably 5 MPH+). When I put the car in drive and just lightly press the gas, then release I hear a rattling/grinding sound.”
Those who have had their dealer take a look say that it was diagnosed as an issue with the transmission or the all-wheel drive transfer case.
However, it’s been reported that the noise hasn’t gone away even after getting their transmission replaced. Although some have also said that the noise eventually went away on its own even without doing anything.
4. Lower MPG Than Expected
Many Hyundai Tucson Hybrid owners have reported that they don’t get anywhere near the advertised fuel economy of 35 to 38 mpg combined.
Like all cars, the Tucson Hybrid will have slightly worse mileage during its break-in period. Fuel economy should improve after the first 1,000 miles and as you get more used to driving a hybrid/PHEV.
Here’s how a few owners described their experience:
“I have around 900 miles on my Tucson Hybrid, and it now generally gets around 30 – 35 mpg in my daily driving (both highway and town/city). For the first few hundred miles it was all over the place. One day it would be 20 mpg, next it would be 36 with a similar route/speed etc.”
“I have a HEV Limited Tucson now with 2500 miles on it. In the first 1000 miles, the mpg posted by the car was all over the place but often below 30. I tracked each fill up and I was only getting 28 – 29 mpg on a tank of gas. Not very happy. My last two tanks of gas are 32 and 33 mpg.”
“I am having the exact same issue with my 2023 Tuscon Hybrid. I am now over 5000 miles warmer days and driving on semi flat highways and still averaging 26 mpg. The battery never gets over 60% charged so it is using way more gas then it should.”
Despite the number of people complaining about poor mpg numbers, many Tucson Hybrid owners are able to get over 40 mpg.
Fuel economy depends largely on your driving habits, but extreme temperatures can also make reaching the advertised fuel economy numbers more challenging.
During the winter, the car will hardly ever run in EV mode because the engine has to be running to heat up the cabin.
Similarly, when you turn up the AC to full blast, the electric AC compressor will drain the hybrid battery more so the engine will run more often to charge it back up.
Driving on the highway at speeds over 60 mph will also make your mileage drop significantly.
To get the best fuel economy, you have to observe the dash and try to keep it in EV mode at all times.
It’s also important to note that the PHEV variant of the Tucson is heavier which means it gets slightly worse fuel economy, but this is offset by the longer EV range.
5. 12-Volt Battery Issues
A number of Tucson Hybrid and PHEV owners have had issues unlocking the car and getting it to start due to the 12-volt battery losing charge.
Since the car needs the 12-volt battery to run its electronics and computer systems, a weak battery can cause all sorts of errors on the dash, as well as other electrical issues.
12-volt batteries can easily lose their charge if:
- You only drive for short distances
- Don’t use the car for several days
- Park it outside in the cold
- The key fob is still within range while it’s parked
Although 12-volt batteries typically last 3 to 4 years, it’s also possible that the car came with a defective 12-volt battery from the dealer.
Here’s how a few Tucson owners described their experience:
“My 2022 Tucson Limited PHEV experienced a dead 12-volt battery after returning from a week-long cruise.”
“Woke up to an email from Bluelink telling me there was a battery problem. Went to the garage and the car was dead. It’s a 2022 Tucson Hybrid SEL. Used the button the on the dash to reset battery.”
“We have a new 2022 Tucson Limited PHEV for 3 weeks and had the same problem this weekend. The battery was low so I assumed it would drive on gas no problem. My daughter took it to the supermarket and then was not able to start it when she got out of the store.”
If the keyless entry system stops working and you need to manually unlock the doors, remove the rear plastic cap on the door handle and unlock the door using the emergency key hidden inside the key fob.
Once inside, the Tucson Hybrid should have a 12v battery reset button just behind the steering wheel which should tell the hybrid battery to charge up the 12-volt battery. Pushing this button should have the same effect as jump starting the car.
However, the Tucson PHEV doesn’t have this button, so you’ll have to jump start it using a jump pack or jumper cables.
The PHEV’s 12-volt battery can still lose charge even if it’s plugged into a wall charger because it only gets charged by the hybrid battery when the vehicle is running. So it’s a good idea to turn on the car from time to time if you haven’t been using it for a long time.
To jump start the 12-volt battery in any Tucson hybrid, open up the hood and look for the large black fuse box. Remove the fuse box’s plastic lid and connect the red jumper cable to the positive terminal. The black jumper cable can be connected to any ground wire on the chassis or engine.
6. Refill Inverter Coolant Error
Early builds of the Tucson Hybrid have a tendency to repeatedly throw a ‘Refill Inverter Coolant’ error message on the dash.
Normally, this message only pops up when the inverter coolant tank gets low. But a lot of owners have reported that the message still randomly comes on even if the tank is full and everything else seems to be working fine.
Here’s how a few owners described their experience:
“I have my 2022 Hybrid Tucson Blue for 13 months. It has 18,000 miles. I turned a corner and got ‘Refill Inverter Coolant’ warning. I checked the level. The tank is about a half liter.”
“My father’s 2022 Hybrid Tucson is always showing a refill inverter coolant warning/notification. The inverter coolant level is currently between Min and Max when engine is cold.”
This is also a common problem on the Santa Fe Hybrid and Kia Sorento Hybrid.
These false alarms usually occur whenever it’s hot outside. Those who have taken their cars to the dealership say that replacing the original blue inverter coolant with a new formulation completely got rid of the annoying errors.
According to the TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) that Hyundai put out, the issue should only affect Tucson Hybrids made up to September 2021.
Some dealers have also suggested that a bad coolant pump or air in the coolant lines can cause the error to pop up.
For those who simply do not want to be bothered by the error anymore, turning the car on with the door open, then only closing the door when the System Check message appears usually makes the false alarms go away for the rest of the drive. Turning off the car for a few minutes then turning it back on can also help get rid of the error.
7. Check Hybrid System Error
A number of Tucson Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid owners have encountered an error where the car will suddenly throw up a ‘Check Hybrid System’ error on the dash.
When this error pops up, the car usually loses power or goes into limp mode.
Based on the complaints we’ve seen, it can affect both regular hybrid and the plug-in hybrid models of the Tucson.
Here is how a few owners described their experience:
“2022 Tucson Hybrid ‘Check Hybrid System’ failure. I was driving when I lost all acceleration and this warning came up and told me to pull over safely. I tried turning my car on and off and going which didn’t initially work but after sitting got 30 min when I turned my car back on I was able to move it to a parking lot and wait for the tow truck there.”
“22 Tucson PHEV. So this has now happened 5 times. I’ll be driving down the road and the battery will drain to 0%, I’ll lose all power to the wheels then the car will die. I’ll have to keep the car off for about 15 mins, turn on and let it idle there charging the battery again to a certain level. The only error given is ‘Check Hybrid System and pull over’ which goes away after letting the car sit for a min.”
“I got a message while driving the other day that said to ‘Check Hybrid System’, I lost power to wheels, I could push accelerator and engine would rev but nothing to the wheels if that makes sense. My battery went from 30% or so to 0% (which I’ve never seen before as the engine kicks on at about 12%). After being turned off a few minutes I decided to try again and it started up like nothing happened and battery was back to 30%.”
“I get this error message when i turn on the car while charging. I sometimes stay at a public charger and use air conditioning and get this error. It causes the check engine light to come on too but it turns off after cycling on and off once or twice.”
In some cases, pulling over and turning off the car for 15 to 30 minutes seems to help get rid of the error, and the car drives normally after.
However, a lot of people have also reported that they’ve had to get their cars towed after getting the error.
At least one owner has reported that the error stopped showing up after the dealer replaced their charging port, but this doesn’t explain why the error would show up in the regular hybrid.
To identify the actual cause of the error, the car has to be taken back to the dealer so they can check for trouble codes which should provide more details.
8. Loud Reverse Alert
Many Tucson Hybrid owners have complained that the reverse alert or beeping is unnecessarily loud.
“The reverse alarm on our Tucson Hybrid is so loud that it has awakened the neighbors and scared their kids.”
“I really enjoy taking my Hybrid Tucson camping. One thing that I absolutely hate is arriving at the campsite and having to back up with the VESS disturbing the peace of nearby campers and wild life.”
“I bought the 2022 Tucson Hybrid about two weeks ago and I love it. The only issue is the extremely loud external beeping tone it makes when I back out of my driveway. I don’t want it to disturb my neighbors early in the morning.”
All hybrids, PHEVs and EVs are required by law to have an external reverse alert that pedestrians can hear because electrified vehicles are very silent when parking and running on battery power.
Some owners have found ways to disconnect the backup speaker/module, but this requires some tinkering and may not be exactly legal. Putting some tape over the speaker also helps reduce the volume but only by a small amount.
9. Radio Issues
Some Tucson Hybrid owners are unable to listen to the radio while using Apple CarPlay.
Some have also had disconnection issues with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Here’s how some owners described their problem:
“Sometimes I’m listening to the radio, plug in my phone for navigation and the radio stays on and other times it automatically starts playing audio from my phone. Doesn’t seem to matter what I do I can’t get it to go back to radio”.
“The only problem I have is when I switch from (wireless) CarPlay to radio the system switches back to CarPlay after a second or two.”
These issues could be caused by the infotainment system’s software and it might eventually be solved by a future update.
One thing you can try is to reset the infotainment system by pushing in the reset button on the edge of the screen with a pin or a fine tip pen. Pressing it once only restarts the system, but holding it in for a few minutes will completely reset it to factory settings.
Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Pros and Cons
- Relatively affordable
- Long warranty
- Lots of standard features and tech
- Good ride quality
- Great fuel economy
- Standard all-wheel drive
- Some rivals have battery fuel economy
- Radio lacks physical volume knob
- Reliability has yet to be seen
What Do The Reviews Say?
“You might not guess it, but the Tucson Hybrid is a standout athlete in the hybrid SUV class. It provides a smooth, comfortable driving experience with few faults: The steering is crisp, its handling is composed around sharp turns, and the hybrid powertrain is a willing sprinter. In our testing the Tucson Hybrid zipped from 0 to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, beating out the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid as the quickest in the class.”
“One of the Tucson Hybrid’s greatest attributes is its smooth ride on the road. It simply glides on road surfaces of all kinds, and it approaches luxury SUV levels of comfort due to the supple suspension. Aiding the experience are the plush front seats on the Limited trim — their upscale surfaces and supportive cushions are a step above the competition.”
“The Tucson Hybrid’s touchscreen and center console design is a disappointment. There are few physical buttons — only flat controls that elicit no haptic feedback when you press their easily smudged gloss black surface.”
“Trunk space is roomy in the Tucson Hybrid, measuring 38.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the second row of seats. That’s the best among hybrid SUVs, and it also has a low liftover height and a flat floor.”
“The Tucson Hybrid is EPA-estimated at 37 mpg combined (37 city/36 highway), which is great for an SUV but among the lowest for this hybrid SUV segment. It achieved 34 mpg on our 115-mile evaluation route.”
“When you step back and look at the whole package, the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid presents a heck of a deal at its price.”
What’s the Resale Value of a Hyundai Tucson Hybrid?
Here’s a quick look at the Tucson Hybrid’s used car pricing on Edmunds at the time of writing. Prices quoted are for the midrange SEL trim level.