Six years and still just normal. The compact crossover class has been through a lot of change lately with more dramatic styling and powerful turbocharged engines arriving. The 2021 Hyundai Tucson, however, will have none of it.
Since its 2016 redesign, the Tucson has chosen to stay on the straight and narrow and cater to the masses instead of drawing attention. Overall, it's a solid option in the class, but it's a little light on fun compared to some rivals.
Inoffensive design borders on boring. The Hyundai Tucson marks the sixth model year with the same clean-cut design. In those years, the Tucson has watched its competitors take on bolder and more inspired styling, but it’s stayed true to its roots of simplicity over drama.
This lack of styling theatrics has made it a target for shoppers who want to drive a vehicle, not a design fad. This tactic gives the Tucson a wider sweet spot when it comes to potential buyers, as it sits between the forgettable Volkswagen Tiguan and the brooding Toyota RAV4.
On the flip side, the Tucson will bore to tears those who prefer sharp styling. These shoppers will find comfort in the boldly styled RAV4 or even the sleek Ford Escape or Mazda CX-5.
Tight on space, not on tech. Other than styling changes, the Tucson has also watched its competitors grow in size. This growth has resulted in roomier cabins that haul people and cargo more effectively.
The Tucson is no slouch with 38.2 inches of rear leg room, 31 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats up, and 61.9 cubes with the rear seats folded. It’s no Honda CR-V, though, which boasts up to 75.8 cubic feet of cargo room and 40 inches of rear leg room.
The Subaru Forester is right there with the CR-V with almost 40 inches of rear leg room and 76.1 cubic feet of cargo room. The CX-5 also boasts 40 inches of leg room, but its 59.6 cubes of max cargo room is short of the Tucson.
With its 7-inch touchscreen and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the Tucson matches most of its competitors. Plus, its $24,840 base price makes the Tucson a strong value.
The Tucson also outshines a few key rivals, including the Forester and its 6.5-inch touchscreen. The big win comes when comparing the Tucson to the CR-V LX, which has a standard 5-inch infotainment display screen and no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – and it costs $1,430 more than the Hyundai.
Safety isn't an issue with the Tucson’s standard automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assist. The Tucson does, however, lack the standard adaptive cruise found on the RAV4, CX-5, and Forester.
Smooth ride but limited fun. The Tucson delivers a smooth ride that few in its class can match. Where it falls flat is in the power department with its standard 161-horsepower 2.0-liter and optional 181-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines.
Buyers craving more power can get 181 hp or 240 hp from the Kia Sportage and 203 hp from the RAV4. The Sportage also offers tighter handling to match its superior power.
Final thoughts. The 2021 Hyundai Tucson has nothing to love, but it also has nothing to hate. It’s about as inoffensive as a crossover can get today, and that pays dividends when trying to attract customers who want a car that blends in.
It’s not cavernous on the inside like the CR-V or Forester, but it’s good enough for most. It lacks the 240-hp turbocharged oomph of the Sportage, but its 181-hp optional engine is plenty for the average buyer.
Overall, the Tucson is a pleasantly average crossover for the typical car-buying parents and their 1.93 children, which is the average number of kids under 18 per family in the United States.
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