- Excellent standard tech features in base trims.
- Well designed interior.
- Plenty of standard driver assistance features.
- Underpowered engine options.
- Mediocre gas mileage.
- Average interior space and below-average utility.
Would we buy one? Probably not. Wait for the 2022 model.
Vehicle Type: Four-door, five-seat compact SUV.
Price Range: From $24,875 to $33,225, including destination charge.
Powertrain: A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 164 horsepower, with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive.
A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 181 horsepower, six-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive.
Competitors: Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, GMC Terrain, Honda CR-V, Jeep Compass, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, Nissan Rogue Sport, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan.
Overall Score: 6.9/10
Safety Features: 8/10
The Hyundai Tucson comes standard with a decent suite of driver assistance technology features. Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist are standard. Available safety features are also competitive within the segment and include blind-spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, automatic high beam assist, and adaptive cruise control.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2021 Hyundai Tucson five stars in overall testing, its highest rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the structurally identical 2020 model a Top Safety Pick in the compact SUV category due to its standard and available safety features and crash test performance. The IIHS awarded the highest Good rating across the board in crash testing. The standard halogen headlights were the only area where the Tucson scored a Poor rating, but the available LED headlights received a Good rating.
The Hyundai Tucson delivers excellent value, particularly in the base to mid-tier trims. All models receive alloy wheels, the aforementioned driver assistance features, and a touchscreen infotainment system. Compared to the base models from Honda, Ford, or Toyota, the most affordable Tucson isn't more than just a bare-bones car.
SEL trim, however, represents the best value in the Tucson line. It adds more luxury above the basics, without nearing the $30,000 threshold. But even more expensive models are good value compared to popular rivals. The Hyundai Tucson includes a 5-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Hyundai also throws in 3 years/36,000 miles of complimentary maintenance.
Tech Features: 7/10
In base SE trim, the Hyundai Tucson has decent standard technology features, including a 7-inch touchscreen display to run the infotainment system. That base trim system is Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay connectivity. Stepping up to Value trim adds keyless entry and push-button start. Mid-tier SEL trim includes a rear-seat USB port, SiriusXM satellite radio, heated front seats, and dual-zone climate control.
Sport trim adds an Infinity premium audio system and a hands-free power liftgate, while Limited adds a 360-degree surround-view camera. Top-tier Ultimate trim upgrades to an 8-inch touchscreen.
The Hyundai Tucson comfortably seats up to five adults in the rear seat. The Tucson also offers adequate cargo space with 31 cubic feet behind the seats and 61.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. The boxier Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 offer more space, but the Hyundai Tucson is right in there with the Chevy Equinox and Ford Escape.
The Hyundai Tucson has a maximum towing capacity of 1,000 pounds, which is the lowest in class, with competitors generally able to haul a minimum of 1,500 and up to 3,500 pounds. Similarly, the Hyundai Tucson has 6.4 inches of ground clearance, one of the lowest in the class.
Styling & Design: 7/10
Outside, the Hyundai Tucson's styling is mostly classy and understated, with just enough going on not to look dull. The prominent grille with chrome trim keeps the Tucson looking modern, although it doesn't look as striking as the recently unveiled 2022 Tucson.
Inside, the Hyundai Tucson has a clean and well-built design. Buttons and screens well within the driver's reach and in intuitive locations. Base models get cloth seats with upholstery by YES Essentials, which is stain and odor resistant, while leather upholstery is reserved for Limited and Ultimate trim levels.
Driving Experience: 6/10
Neither engine offered on the Tucson delivers thrilling acceleration, and the base engine downright slow. The 6-speed automatic makes the most of its underpowered engine by usually being in the right gear at the right time. But rivals with small turbo engines are generally more flexible with passing power than the Tucson.
Handling, however, is composed and balanced. The suspension is soft enough to deliver excellent on-road comfort without excessive body roll in corners. The steering numb, though, with little feedback from the steering wheel.
Fuel Efficiency: 5/10
The 2021 Hyundai Tucson gets PA-estimated fuel economy of 23 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 25 combined in base trim with the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel-drive. Adding all-wheel drive drops mileage to 22 city, 25 highway, and 23 combined.
The 2.4-liter engine gets an estimated fuel economy rating that almost matches the smaller engine, with 22 city, 28 highway, and 25 combined in FWD trim. AWD drops those numbers slightly to 21 city, 26 highway, and 23 combined mpg
The Tucson is behind in the fuel economy category, as nearly all rivals can hit 30 mpg highway in some configurations, and the onda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 can do as much as 35 mpg. Hyundai also doesn't offer a hybrid or plug-in hybrid version of the 2021 model, but the redesigned 2022 Tucson will get two electrified variants.