2023 Hyundai Tucson PHEV Limited AWD - Is a plug-in a good idea?


With all the acronyms out there it can get confusing; what exactly is a PHEV? It is a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. I have admit I am not sure why one might want a plug-in hybrid. Once while searching for a working EV charging station I met a woman who was also desperately looking for the same because she had to charge up her plug-in hybrid so she could get home. I almost said something but decided to remain mum instead of saying "It's a hybrid lady, just drive it."

I like hybrids, I think they are a good combination for today; they usually get great mileage around town (because they often run on just the electric motor), decent mileage on the highway, and you never have to worry about finding a working charging station.

Hyundai says the 2023 Tucson PHEV has an electric range of only 33 miles. I guess that is enough to run to the store and back.

Looking at the specifications the Tucson PHEV it has a total power output of about 35 hp more than the pure hybrid version. Hyundai only shows a combined fuel economy of 35-mpg for the PHEV, while a regular hybrid Tucson is rated at up to 38-mpg for city, highway, and combined. Increased power appears to be the biggest plus.

But if you want a plug-in hybrid the Tucson might be right for you. It is a nice, "medium" size at 182.3" long on a wheelbase of 108.5". The Tucson PHEV will seat 5, and has 31.9 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seat; fold them down and that goes up to 66.3 cubic feet according to the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Plenty of room up front for two.

There is room for three in the back but with the pull down center armrest the middle seat may not be as easy on your back.

I will take Hyundai to task for the multi-button gear shift mechanism. There is a button for Park, one for Reverse, and another for Drive. Three buttons doing the job that one gearshift lever could accomplish. Let's keep it simple next time. I was caught out a couple of times by the fact that you have to come to a complete stop to go from Reverse to Drive - I back out of my driveway and usually just tap a shift lever into Drive. I tried to push the Drive button while barely rolling backward and it would not engage. I'm sure there's a reason for this but...

Every SUV out there has some styling cues but as my wife noted, "They all kind of look the same." True. A SUV is basically two boxes; a big one for the interior, and a smaller one for the engine/transmission unit. Add in that certain colors seem to  be common your SUV can get lost in a parking lot. 

Despite my gripes I thought the Tucson PHEV did its job well. It was comfortable, roomy, and easy to maneuver. On our usual route to visit one of our granddaughters the Tucson felt safe enough next to the of big rigs that often fill the right two lanes.

Obviously I have mixed feelings about the 2023 Hyundai Tucson PHEV Limited AWD. Pricing starts at $44,760. For $5,650 less you could get a Tucson Hybrid Limited and never have to worry about finding a charging station.

Hyundai offers a full line-up of Tucsons, from the base SE FWD @ $26,900, to the PHEV Limited tested. If the size is right for you, go try one out.

You may have heard or read that Hyundai and Kia models are easy prey for car thieves. There is evidence that some years are vulnerable so I asked my insurance agent if there would be a premium applied to a 2023 that would reflect this risk. The answer was no, that the cost to insure is similar to other makes of the same style. So rest easy.


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