Hyundai is making a big deal of its newish N Line performance line of vehicles. For 2023 it’s continuing the N trim on the Tucson SUV. It has a new grille, lights wheels and exhausts. It also has a new N-specific interior that has a new transmission, steering wheel, and more. But the N Line trims have proven to be more than a collection of nice parts. So far, on other Hyundais, the N Line trims have proven to turn regular cars into hot performance machines. But do the N tricks do the same for the Tucson or does the Hyundai Hybrid Tucson beat it?
The N is Hyundai’s performance line
BMW has the M. Lexus the F. Hyundai the N. For each brand, adding one little letter is akin to saying “performance version” with handling to match. The Hyundai N badge has appeared on the Kona N, Elantra N, Sonata N, and Veloster N. In the spirit of a day for everything, Hyundai announced that July 15 will be N Day and is promoting that with a video of what looks like a Veloster pounding mountain corners. Hyundai says the N came from the city of Namyang, South Korea, where the company has its R&D center, as well as the famous Nurburgring race track in Germany.
N and N Line have some differences, though. The N is more of a handling and appearance package, while N Line vehicles have more power.
Consumer Reports recommends the 2022 Tucson
Hyundai redesigned the Tucson for 2022 and gave it an all-new look and feel. The new SUV earned a recommendation from Consumer Reports and it ranks highly. The 2022 Tucson also comes as a hybrid and a PHEV hybrid with a 33-mile electric range with 226 horsepower. All-wheel drive is available on the five-seat SUV. The new XRT version adds some off-road attitude to the Tucson as well.
The N line is a hot Tucson, but not a quicker Tucson
Some N Line cars like the Sonata N get a hot 290-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter engine. Unfortunately, not the Tucson. It only gets the same basic engine as the standard model, which is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 187 horsepower. It takes 8.8 seconds to get to 60 miles per hour in a Car and Driver road test, which is a far cry from the 5.2 seconds it takes the Sonata. So, think of the N package for the Tucson as more of an appearance package with better seats, and a better Bose stereo instead of a performance package.
The N package starts at $31,200, which is quite a jump over the base SE model’s starting price of $25,800. A fully loaded Tucson can cost more than $41,000.
For more performance, get the Hyundai Hybrid Tucson or PHEV
While the N has the name, the the Hyundai Hybrid Tucson and PHEV have the power. The base engine makes just 187 horses, while the Hybrid model adds electric juice to pump up the power to 227-hp. The slightly-heaver PHEV makes 261 horsepower. The Hybrid and PHEV can sprint to 60 miles per hour in 7.1 seconds, handily beating the N Line, but not the Toyota RAV4. Both are far more efficient Tucsons. Though the 2023 models are heading to dealers now, the new Tucson will remain the same as the 2022 versions.