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The 2021 Hyundai Tucson: When Unchanged is a Virtue

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Even though it’s virtually unchanged, the 2021 Hyundai Tucson provides a performance, ride, and handling combination SUV buyers are looking for.

What’s New for the 2021 Hyundai Tucson?

2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com

2021 Hyundai Tucson – hyundainews.com |  Shop 2021 Hyundai Tucson on Carsforsale.com

The 2021 Hyundai Tucson is in its 6th year and unchanged for 2021. But it’s still a good choice if you’re looking for a comfortable, reliable, and value-oriented crossover. The only changes are that Sage Brown is no longer a color option and the new color, Red Crimson, replaces Gemstone Red. The Tucson is still a dependable, reliable, and handsome value crossover.

Body Style

Starting Price

MSRP $23,700

Drivetrain

Drivetrain

FWD or AWD

Drivetrain

Fuel Economy

23 City / 28 Hwy (MPG)

Number of Seats

Seating

Seats 5

The Breakdown

Still has great styling

Plenty of comfort and reliability

Great complimentary maintenance

The chassis and interior are dated

Engine options aren’t great

Looking forward to the redesign

Add a more efficient and powerful engine

2021 Tucson Specs

Trims & Pricing

SE - $23,700
Value - $25,150
SEL - $26,100
Sport - $28,250
Limited - $29,400
Ultimate - $32,050

2021 Hyundai Tucson Powertrain

2021 Hyundai Tucson I4 - hyundainews.com
2021 Hyundai Tucson I4 - hyundainews.com

The 2021 Tucson is available with two engines, the 161hp 2.0L 4-cylinder on the Tucson SE and Value trim or the 181hp 2.4L 4-cylinder on all other trims. Surprisingly, there’s no difference in the combined fuel mileage of 23 mpg, and the 2.4L only loses one mpg to the 2.0L in City driving. Both engines come with a 6-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the road through a standard front-wheel-drive or an optional all-wheel-drive.

2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com
2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com

While neither will make the SUV feel like a “sport” utility, the all-wheel-drive helps you with confidence even while cornering in the wet, snow, and dry weather. When you want to feel sportier, you can also put the transmission in manual mode and shift with the console shift lever. You’ll notice a button near the shifter that activates a sport or normal drive mode. In sport mode, the throttle is more responsive, transmission shifts occur at higher RPMs, and the steering ratio changes for a sportier feel. The transmission also holds engine RPMs longer for more power on demand. This all means that things get more fun, which is nice to have in an SUV.

2021 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Economy & MPG

Although the Tucson’s engines are relatively fuel-efficient, they’re losing a battle with the competition. The EPA estimates show 23 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. For example, the heavier yet newly introduced and more powerful Nissan Rogue averages a combined 35 mpg in EPA estimates.

Towing & Payload

2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundaiusa.com
2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundaiusa.com

The 2.0L Tucson has a 1500 lbs towing capacity perfect for hauling motorcycles, four-wheelers, or a small boat. With the available towing option, the hitch will also allow you to mount bike or utility racks, so there’s lots of flexibility. If you opt for the 2.4L in the Sport trim and up, the towing capacity is 2000 lbs. Since most crossover owners never really tow anything, you might not use it. But knowing you can pull a small moving trailer when needed will give you some peace of mind. 

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com
2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com

Leather is available in the Limited and Ultimate trim, but the absence of leather seats in the Value trim isn’t a problem. The beige-colored cloth fabric has an excellent feel, grips well, and comes with the bonus of not burning legs in the summer. According to Hyundai, the fabric resists stains, odors, and static. Sounds like great features for a family.

2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com
2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com

The 2021 Hyundai Tucson’s seats provide comfort with a firm, supportive cushion and side bolsters that do a decent job supporting you in turns. The seats aren’t sports seats by any imagination, but neither are they flat benches. They help you when needed. Hyundai has done an outstanding job keeping out wind and road noise on surface streets and freeways. Hyundai could teach some things about silencing noise, vibration, and harshness to automobiles double what the Tucson costs.

2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com
2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com

Where you’ll notice that you’re not driving a $50,000 SUV are the plastics that surround you. They aren’t bargain basement, but you’re reminded that this model’s generation has been around for six years. Although the fit of everything is darn near perfect and solid, the finish doesn’t compare to some of the updated competition. We’re guessing that the newly designed 2022 Tucson will change all of this, but for now, it suffers a bit in comparison to the newer models of Honda, Nissan, and Toyota.

2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com
2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com

In the rear, seat comfort is nice and large enough for someone who’s six-foot-tall. You also have reclining seatbacks that give a little more incline for added comfortability. Heated rear seats are standard on the Ultimate trim, and AC vents at the rear console are available starting on the SEL trim level and up.

2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com
2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com

If you want the largest cargo areas, you’ll find more space in many SUVs in its class and even Hyundai’s Santa Fe. However, the storage is more than adequate for your everyday living and includes extra storage in the spare tire area. The rear is reconfigurable, so the floor is flush with the bumper or it can also drop another 2 inches to make room for taller cargo.

The reclinable 60/40 2nd-row seats fold down to make 61.9 cu-ft of space and fold up to 31.0 cu ft of grocery area. Hyundai says the Tucson can hold 22 carry-on suitcases when the rear seats are flat, and with the seats up it will hold seven standard carry-ons. So, unless you’re going to need space for a couch, you’ll be fine. Otherwise, you probably need a Suburban.

Entertainment & Technology

As in other crossovers of the Hyundai Tucson’s class, you get an infotainment system. Hyundai offers the 7-inch touchscreen in all trims except the Ultimate, which brings in an 8-inch screen with navigation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included standard in all trim levels and wireless device charging is available in the Sport, Limited and Ultimate trims. The Sport trim level and up features a powerful infinity audio system with 8-speakers and a subwoofer to keep the family entertained.

Safety Features

Hyundai’s crossovers have earned safety awards from many organizations, and the Tucson is no different. Standard safety features include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, and Driver Attention Warning. Additional features are optional, including a Surround View Monitor that gives you a 360 view of where your car is. That’s a helpful feature in the parking lot.  

2021 Hyundai Tucson Trims & Pricing

2021 Hyundai Tucson SE - carsforsale.com
2021 Hyundai Tucson SE - carsforsale.com

SE – $23,700

The perfectly capable and comfortable Hyundai SE includes the 2.0L engine, 17-inch wheels and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Lane Keeping Assist as standard safety features. Inside, you’ll enjoy the stain repellant cloth seats and the 7-inch color touchscreen display audio with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

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2021 Hyundai Tucson Value - carsforsale.com
2021 Hyundai Tucson Value - carsforsale.com

Value – $25,150

Stepping up to the Tucson Value gets you a blind-spot collision warning system that helps protects you and others on the highway. Hyundai also introduces their Blue Link Connected Car System and a proximity key with push-button start. Blue Link provides the ability to do many things with your car, including remote start/stop and the ability to locate your vehicle. Inside, you’ll appreciate the convenience and comfort of the 8-way power driver seat that puts you in the right driving position.

2021 Hyundai Tucson SEL - carsforsale.com
2021 Hyundai Tucson SEL - carsforsale.com

SEL – $26,100

With the SEL, on top of everything you get on the Value trim, Hyundai adds the more powerful 2.4L engine and 18-inch wheels that give you a more responsive and smoother ride. We think you’ll love the dual automatic temperature controls to keep everyone comfortable and 2nd-row USB outlets to allow family members to charge up and connect to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

2021 Hyundai Tucson Sport - carsforsale.com
2021 Hyundai Tucson Sport - carsforsale.com

SPORT – $28,250

We think that the Tucson Sport trim is the best overall value. It’s 19-inch alloy wheels and additional trim around the exterior give this trim a look that matches its name. With full LED automatic headlights, fog lights, and daytime running lights, you’ll be able to see everything on the road. Convenience items like the hands-free smart liftgate will make it easy to load up and retrieve those shopping bags. Inside, you’ll enjoy the sound of the Infinity Premium Audio System.

2021 Hyundai Tucson Limited - carsforsale.com
2021 Hyundai Tucson Limited - carsforsale.com

LIMITED – $29,400

Leather seating surfaces, a leather wrapped and heated steering wheel, plus a surround-view monitor are the highlights with the Limited trim. For safety and technology, the Limited includes pedestrian detection with their forward collision-avoidance system. Front seat passengers receive the convenience of an 8-way power-adjustable seat. Both driver and passenger will appreciate the larger 7-inch touchscreen to play with the in-dash navigation and Infinity Audio System.

2021 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate - carsforsale.com
2021 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate - carsforsale.com

ULTIMATE – $32,050

The Ultimate shows you the most luxury and convenience. It comes standard with wireless device charging, a panoramic sunroof, navigation, and ventilated leather passenger and driver seats. How is that for comfort? Of course, you get Hyundai’s comprehensive suite of safety technology, including a trim exclusive high-beam assist and rain-sensing wipers. In traffic, Hyundai’s Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go will give you both relief and safety during heavy traffic times. Its ability to stay at a safe distance while stopping and starting itself is a wonder to behold. You never have to put your foot on the brake or accelerator.

Warranties

Hyundai continues to offer its 100,000 miles/10-year powertrain warranty and a limited warranty of 5 years or 60,000 miles. They’ve also introduced a very competitive complimentary maintenance plan covering three years or 36,000 miles included in your Tucson’s purchase cost.

Few automakers, regardless of their cost, offer free maintenance. Among other direct competitors, Honda and Toyota do not provide free maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles. So, Hyundai is breaking some ground in its class.

What We Think

2021 Hyundai Tucson - hyundaiusa.com

2021 Hyundai Tucson – hyundaiusa.com |  Shop 2021 Hyundai Tucson on Carsforsale.com

The 2021 Hyundai Tucson isn’t a hateful SUV. Over the six years that this current generation has been around, Hyundai has done a decent job keeping it relevant with refreshes. Still, it’s hard to hide age in the current automotive market – styles and technology change so quickly.

Since the 2022 version of the Tucson will be on the cutting edge and has looks that are a bit polarizing, you have an option for the well-loved and developed 2021 model. It may be lacking in space compared to its competitors and its engine may not be as efficient, but it’s arguably better looking and there’s always that 100,000-mile warranty. If you want a comfortable, easy-going, safe, and reliably average SUV, then this is the one for you.

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Steve Mitchell

Steve's first car had pedals, and he's been filled with passion for four wheels ever since. He lives and breathes the car life as a technologist, futurist, and writer while keeping up with the whys, hows, and plans of the automotive industry. His automotive journey began with a fully restored Triumph TR3b that he sadly never appreciated until decades later. Ownerships of X-1/9's, BMW's, an SVT and a Dodge Ram Hemi have given way to the house of Audi Sport. You'll also find him as an endurance athlete on the bike in SoCal, but you'll know he's thinking about cars.

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