But it doesn’t need to, as Tucson already has its own niche. Those who seek a compact crossover with a unique design, loaded with features, and not afraid to go against the current could be interested in peeking on the Tucson.
As it happens, the current generation Tucson has been around for over five years, and the next-gen model that will replace it has already arrived. It is also why this year, there was no update at all from last year’s refinement, as Hyundai is busy preparing the upcoming sales year of this fourth-gen Tucson in early 2022.
Nonetheless, this last breed of the current-gen is still worthy of discussing, as the features that it hosts up its sleeve may still surprise you.
Carrying an over 5-year-old design, the 2021 Tucson is kind of overshadowed by its new little sibling, the Hyundai Kona. However, the Tucson is still undeniably good-looking. There is both a posh and sporty element to the exterior packed in a compact design. The Tucson is on the smaller side, measuring 176.4 inches in length, 72.8 inches in width, and 64.8 inches in height.
From the front, the Tucson is looking sharp with many sophisticated clear lines on the bumper. The large grille also dominates, but the headlights are slim, housing sharp-looking L-shaped LED daytime running lights.
The sporty bit is the matte black accents surrounding the lower side front bumper, wheel arches, side skirts, and rear bumper. The roofline also slopes slightly, creating a line that seamlessly connects to the rear spoiler.
Besides, there is nothing to complain about the rear end, as it looks nice and clean with subtle curves. However, you would appreciate it more on the higher trims, where it gets unique-looking exhaust tips.
Annoyingly, the exterior upgrades are quite significant when you jump from to a higher trim, encouraging you to go for the more expensive model to get a nicer look. We suggest not getting too carried over by it as it does not affect functionality.
Overall, the 2021 Tucson might have an outdated design, but it is still a handsome-looking compact crossover.
The aging also can be felt on the interior design, where it sits in the ‘okay’ category. It is still far from ugly, but it is kind of dull-looking for today’s standard. Nevertheless, it is still very functional as the dashboard elements are nicely laid out and easy to use. The interior materials are also getting better as you upgrade to higher trims.
In terms of space, it is not as large as the class-leading Honda CR-V, but it is not bad either. As it seats five, the passenger space measures 99 cubic feet, with sufficient headroom and knee room for adult passengers at the back.
The cargo volume is again not class-leading but alright as well, measuring at 31 cubic feet. Our only complaint is that it lacks electronic second-row seat release from the trunk like you would get in the other Hyundai SUVs such as the Santa Fe and Palisade, making it less practical to expand the cargo area.
The 2021 Hyundai Tucson has six trims to choose from depending on your budget. There are two different engines available as well, with the first two entry-level SE and Value trims having the less powerful 2.0-liter unit, while the SEL, Sport, Limited, and Ultimate trims get a more punchy 2.4-liter unit. Also, every trim are available in FWD or AWD configuration
2021 Hyundai Tucson SE
Starting price: FWD – $23,700, AWD – $25,100
The SE is the entry-level trim, quite loaded with features for its starting price.
Powering the SE is certainly not the best engine in its class, but it is very forgivable considering its low price point. It is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine producing 161 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque. It pairs exclusively to a 6-speed automatic transmission, channeling its power to the front wheels via the FWD system or all four wheels via the AWD system.
Accelerating from 0-60 takes non-inspiring 10.3 seconds, but at least it is turbo lag-free. Oh, if you are curious, the top speed is at 130 mph.
Economy-wise, it is performing moderately well, at 23/28 MPG city/highway for the FWD model and 22/25 MPG city/highway for the AWD model. With its 16.4-gallon fuel capacity, it should get you a range of about 390 miles, which is plenty.
The Tucson having quite a basic looks, exterior features are not too shabby. As standard, it comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic projector headlights, power-adjustable side mirrors, and black trim molding. Moreover, rear privacy glass and shark-fin roof antenna are also standard.
The decent equipment continues inside. The SE comes with YES Essentials® cloth seating surfaces in beige or gray color, 6-way manually adjustable driver seat, and manually-adjusted steering wheel column and AC.
There is also a 3.5-inch multi-information display that shows distance to empty, average fuel consumption and vehicle speed, elapsed time, instant fuel consumption, and external temperature.
Furthermore, you are getting a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display, complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a 6-speaker audio system as standard.
Safety and Driver Assistant Features
Hyundai is not stingy on safety features as well. Even in the lowest trim, you are still getting 7 airbags, electronic stability control with traction control, anti-lock brakes, and an anti-theft alarm system.
There are also some high-end safety features. Notably, the Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist gives you visual and audible warning of an impending collision and applies the brakes when needed, while Lane Keeping Assist automatically steers the vehicle to stay in its lane if it begins to drift over the lane marker. Kudos to Hyundai for making these crucial assistant features standard even on the entry-level trim.
2021 Hyundai Tucson Value
Starting price: FWD – $25,150, AWD – $26,550
The Tucson Value features the same powertrain as the entry-level SE, but it has a touch of cosmetic upgrades and additional safety features.
On top of the SE’s features, there are the additions of heated side mirrors, roof rails, and some LED accents.
Inside the cabin, you’ll also find heated front seats and an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, push start/stop engine button, and SiriusXM satellite radio.
Safety and Driver Assistant Features
In the safety and driver assistant department, there is the addition of Blind-Spot Collision Warning that alerts you if the vehicle next lane is in your blind spot, and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning that warns you when there is a crossing vehicle as you are about to do a reversing maneuver.
2021 Hyundai Tucson SEL
Starting price: FWD – $26,100, AWD – $27,500
The SEL features a pretty significant powertrain upgrade and features inside and out. However, there are no safety upgrades.
The SEL gets a beefier 2.4-liter 4-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine producing 181 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. It features the same 6-speed automatic gearbox and both FWD and AWD drivetrains. Thanks to the more powerful engine, your weekly shopping can be more time-efficient as the crossover sprints from 0-60 mph in a faster 8.8 seconds.
Fuel economy is so-so, performing similarly at 22/28 MPG city/highway for the FWD model and 21/26 MPG city/highway for the AWD model. It has the same 16.4-gallon fuel capacity and the same 390 miles expected range as the 2.0-liter unit.
Some significant upgrades from the Value include a new premium body kit with silver accents, dual-tone 18-inch alloys, and aesthetically purposed chrome dual exhaust outlets.
Inside, there is the addition of a dual-zone automatic climate control system for the AC, rear air vents, and rear USB ports. Soft-touch plastic material is also used on the door trim starting from this trim and above.
2021 Hyundai Tucson Sport
Starting price: FWD – $28,250, AWD – $29,650
The Sport features some exterior and interior upgrades but carries the same powertrain and safety technology from the SEL.
Some more exterior upgrades occur in the Sport, such as sporty-looking 19-inch wheels, LED headlights and taillights, LED daytime running lights, and foglights. Interestingly, the hands-free power liftgate opens up after standing for a few seconds behind the vehicle while carrying the key fob.
The interior features are carried from the SEL, with the addition of an auto-dimming rearview mirror, wireless charging pad, and an 8-speaker Infinity® premium sound system.
2021 Hyundai Tucson Limited
Starting price: FWD – $29,400, AWD – $30,800
The Limited is the second most well-equipped trim, with the same powertrain as the SEL and the Sport, but with added features.
Outside, not much changed from the Sport, apart from featuring a chrome grille and chrome trim molding. Weirdly, the Limited features the same 18-inch alloys from the SEL, which is a downgrade from the cool Sport’s 19-inch.
Some posh features start to appear inside, such as leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, upgraded door trim, and heated steering wheel.
Safety and Driver Assistant Features
In the driver assistant department, there is the addition of a surround-view camera system that displays a top-down view of the vehicle and its surrounding in the infotainment display to ease the parking process, especially in tight spaces.
2021 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate
Starting price: FWD – $32,050, AWD – $33,450
The Ultimate is the top-of-the-range model and comes with the most extensive standard feature list compared to its cheaper siblings. It adopts the same 2.4-liter power unit as the SEL, Sport, and Limited.
On top of the Limited’s features, there is the addition of rain-sensing windscreen wipers and a wide panoramic sunroof.
Inside, the front seats are now ventilated, and the rear seats have a heating function. Moreover, the driver’s information display features a larger 4.2-inch color LCD. The infotainment system has also been upgraded to a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen with an integrated navigation system.
Safety and Driver Assistant Features
There is the addition of a more advanced Adaptive Cruise Control system in this most luxurious Ultimate trim.
|Auto-dimming rearview mirror||$295|
|Illuminated door sill plates||$250|
|Roof rack crossbars||$250|
|Rear bumper applique protector||$70|
|All-weather floor mats||$165|
|Carpeted floor mats||$155|
|First aid kit||$30|
The 2.0-liter engine adopter SE and Value trim would have a common towing capacity of 1,500 lbs., while the rest with the more potent 2.4-liter gets to tow up to 2,000 lbs. Tow hitch is an optional extra costing $350.
Hyundai is amongst the very best in providing warranty compared to other manufacturers in the U.S. The warranty included on top of your 2021 Tucson purchase covers:
- Limited warranty of up to 5 years/60,000 miles
- Drivetrain warranty of up to 10 years/100,000 miles (for the first owner)
- Rust warranty of up to 7 years with unlimited mileage
- Roadside assistance program of up to 5 years with unlimited mileage
- Complimentary scheduled maintenance of up to 3 years/36,000 miles
Overall, the 2021 Hyundai Tucson is a decent crossover for its class. Of course, its bland driving experience and aging design may reduce the hype around it. However, it is still packed with class-leading standard safety features, a class-leading warranty program, and adequately modern tech. Nonetheless, something like a Mazda CX-5 should excite you more on the driving bit.
If you plan on getting the 2021 Tucson, the SEL should give you the best bang for the buck. You would definitely enjoy the more powerful 2.4-liter engine without having to pay a premium price. But, we favor the Sport trim more as it offers the best exterior looks and some worthy additional premium features for a slightly higher price.
However, as we mentioned earlier, the fourth generation Tucson has already been launched and should be on sale in early 2022, so we suggest you wait on that instead. It would have a larger 2.5-liter engine, hybrid and N Line performance variants, and a totally redesigned exterior and interior. That should once again bring the crossover competition to a fairer one for Hyundai Tucson.