2021 Hyundai Tucson

2021 Hyundai Tucson (base) review

Article from Drive.

With a more daring look and more space than before, does the 2021 Hyundai Tucson deliver the perfect medium-SUV package? Sam Purcell finds out.

What we loveWhat we don’t
Great ride quality around town2.0-litre powertrain could perform better
Spacious and comfortable second rowFuel efficiency isn’t as good as older competitors
Some nice inclusions for a base-spec carHalogen headlights jarring against modern LED DRLs
2021 Hyundai Tucson (base) review-0

Introduction

If you want attention in Australia’s most competitive new-car segment, you need fresh product to appeal to the masses. New metal with an interesting design that will hook potential buyers into having a closer look.

That’s Hyundai’s plan at least with its latest medium-sized SUV, the 2021 Hyundai Tucson. And we’ve got the $34,500 plus on-road costs entry into the Tucson range to see if it’s any good.

While the Tucson nameplate dates back to the early 2000s, this new-generation 2021 Hyundai Tucson – which uses the new platform shared by all of Hyundai’s and Kia’s latest front- and all-wheel-drive medium to large models – is minty fresh.

Initial impressions on this new Tucson are no doubt positive. While medium-sized SUVs are one of the most at-risk segments of looking and feeling a little bland, Hyundai has clearly added in a big dose of unique kerbside appeal to this new model.

However, the powertrain options – which have precluded the likes of electrification for now – don’t seem to carry on the fight in the same vein as the exterior presentation. 

The true test of a new model is often had in its base specification, where there’s less fancy technology and flash finishing touches to hide behind. 

Our base-specification Tucson is armed with the base powertrain option, which is the least impressive on paper: a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol makes 115kW and 192Nm running through a six-speed automatic gearbox to the front wheels

Other powertrain options include a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, as well as a 2.0-litre turbo diesel, though both of these have arrived slightly later than planned behind the base petrol models.

Instead, our eponymous grade will need to impress with its fundamental character: cabin, ergonomics, space and comfort. Let’s get stuck into it. 

Key details2021 Hyundai Tucson
Price (MSRP)$34,500 plus on-road costs
Colour of test carDeep Sea
OptionsPremium paint ($595)
Price as tested$35,095 plus on-road costs
RivalsHonda CR-V Mazda CX-5 | Toyota RAV4
2021 Hyundai Tucson (base) review-0

Inside

There are a few key indicators that you’re sitting in a base-specification Tucson. Actually, the first big hint you get is before you hop in: no keyless entry. Once you’re in, turning the car on will also require you to insert and turn a key, in the absence of increasingly common push-button start.

Below the 8.0-inch infotainment display sits your manual air-conditioning (no climate control) and you’re seated in comfortable manually adjustable seats. But on the plus side, there’s a handful of nice touches inside the Tucson that helps elevate the experience nicely.

Firstly, the steering wheel is leather-wrapped and feels nice in the hand. And along with the decently sized infotainment display, the overall design feels modern and a little bit refreshing.

The solid-feeling centre console is a good size, and offers enough storage along with space below the centre stack and your two regular cupholders. Power outlets include a wireless charging pad – something of a rarity for a base-spec car – and two USB-A points.

The second row of the 2021 Tucson is great for one simple reason: space. There’s plenty of it, which allows adults to fit in quite comfortably – even with somebody long-limbed up front.

While my own kids aren’t in space-sucking rearward-facing seats anymore, I can say that the lack of dancing feet on the seat back as we drove around is another positive indicator of plentiful second-row space.

There are air vents and USB-A power outlets in the second row, as well as cupholders in the fold-down armrest. One can fit a drink bottle in each door, and visibility from the cheap seats is also quite good.

A minor detail you might not notice in the Tucson at first is a tilting backrest for the second-row seats. Along with helping adults get a little extra comfier at times, I have also found this extra adjustment helpful when installing child seats nice and tight.

The boot is also a solid offering owing to the 4630mm overall length of the Tucson. This is 150mm longer than the outgoing model, which allows extra room throughout the interior space. Its 539L (VDA) is good in five-seater configuration. Fold that second row flat (it does go flat) and you’ve got 1860L of storage space at the ready for your click-and-collect furniture adventures. Too bad you can’t enjoy a cheap hot dog at the moment.

2021 Hyundai Tucson
SeatsFive
Boot volume539L seats up / 1860L seats folded
Length4630mm
Width1865mm
Height1665mm
Wheelbase2755mm
2021 Hyundai Tucson (base) review-0

Infotainment and Connectivity

Even the base Tucson offers a solid 8.0 inches of digital real estate, though this is the only grade to get it. Move up the spec ladder and you’ll have a 10.25-inch display.

The upgraded system has more features as well. While our system has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it’s missing digital radio and native navigation. It’s not a big deal for those of us in the city with data to burn, but those in more remote areas might prefer in-built navigation in particular. The bigger-screen system also switched to wired smartphone connectivity.

The operating system is a good one that proved to be easy to navigate around. This is helped by buttons on each side of the display and steering wheel for controls, as well as a volume dial.

There is a 4.2-inch multifunction display in front of the driver, which has the typical range of information available: digital speed readout, trip computer and other basics. Tyre pressure monitoring comes through here, which is a nice safety addition to the Tucson. The screen is flanked by a set of traditional analogue gauges.

2021 Hyundai Tucson (base) review-0

Safety and Technology

Standard safety equipment on the Tucson is quite good, and gains what Hyundai calls ‘Advanced Smartsense Safety Suite’. This includes blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assistance, forward collision avoidance (Hyundai’s term for autonomous emergency braking) with cyclist and pedestrian detection, tyre pressure monitoring, intelligent speed limit assistance, junction and turning detection for the autonomous emergency braking, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.

It misses out on a more advanced blind-spot-view camera system, reverse parking collision-avoidance assistance, as well as 360-degree camera. The top-grade Highlander specification needs to be investigated for these elements.

Because it’s a new model, the Hyundai Tucson is yet to be crash-tested by the local crash-testing authority. However, its safety credentials seem very good in terms of included equipment, and the fact that the 2021 Tucson shares bones with many five-star Kias and Hyundais on a similar N3 platform.

2021 Hyundai Tucson
ANCAP ratingNot yet tested
Safety reportN/A
2021 Hyundai Tucson (base) review-0

Value for Money

Because Hyundai has thrown in some nice specification touches to the inside of this Tucson, the base grade is likely to be where the best value-for-money punch will be thrown. There is a caveat here, however.

If you want more grunt and four driven wheels (which, let’s face it, most will), then it’s a moot point. Because you’ll then be looking at a higher-grade Tucson to catch a turbocharged motor and all-wheel drive.

And from there, you can spend up even further to Elite and Highlander specification, with a diesel-powered Highlander looking to set you back $52,000 plus on-road costs. And if you want to spend more, every model can also be optioned with an N-Line aesthetic package upgrade inside and out: 19-inch alloy wheels, LED lights front and back, bigger infotainment display, leather and suede seating, and some special badging.

Considering this costs $3500 for the base specification, it’s worth considering in terms of value for money.

The fact that Hyundai hasn’t left this base model to wilt on the specification vine does a lot to help its value credentials. Tyre pressure monitoring and wireless smartphone charging pads can be omitted from the standard kit on much more expensive rivals, but you’ll find them here in the base Tucson.

And while the prices have gone up over the previous generation, so has the size. Using similar underpinnings, the Tucson is now a little bigger in every direction. But thanks to those new bones, it’s managed to stay a little lighter at the same time.

At a glance2021 Hyundai Tucson
WarrantyFive years / unlimited km
Service intervals12 months / 15,000km
Servicing costs$957 (3yrs) | $1595 (5yrs)
Fuel cons. (claimed)7.9L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test)9.3L/100km
Fuel type91-octane petrol
Fuel tank size62L

Driving

Power and torque have both taken a backward step in this new Tucson in comparison to the previous generation. While both engines are a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol unit on paper, it’s the superseded motor that is actually better – once again on paper – with 122kW and 205Nm.

Still Euro 5 emissions compliant and still running through a six-speed automatic gearbox, but you’re looking at 115kW (down 7kW) and 192Nm (down 13Nm). The change largely comes down to this model’s switch to multi-point fuel injection, whereas the previous generation used direct injection, though the engine design itself is described as new.

And while this new Tucson is bigger and more loaded with technology, it has managed to shed a few kilograms from its tare mass to help even the ledger.

It’s a powertrain that does the job well enough, but that’s about as far as it goes. While good enough, it feels underdone when compared to more powerful drivetrains from both within the broad segment and amongst the model’s stablemates.

You’re looking at not the best in terms of efficiency, either. Naturally, hybrids like Toyota’s rampant RAV4 dominate in this sense. But smaller and more advanced turbocharged engines from other manufacturers also have this more rudimentary combination of a 2.0-litre non-turbo engine and six-speed auto beat.

During our time with the car, which included a good mix of town and highway driving, we logged fuel consumption of 9.3 litres per 100 kilometres. It’s acceptable without being impressive.

Straight-line performance aside, the Tucson proved to be a comfortable and easy companion for around-town driving during our time with it. The ride quality is a particular highlight. You’ll notice plenty of sidewall on offer with these 17-inch wheels, which no doubt helps the Tucson soak up rough roads and bigger imperfections with an impressive demeanour. It seems to favour ride quality over handling, but doesn’t feel floaty or boaty through corners. In terms of fit for purpose, I reckon the Tucson is well dialled.

The steering also feels well weighted for the job at hand. This is all quite typical for Hyundais overall these days, but I was surprised to learn that the Tucson doesn’t get a specific Australian ride and handling tune like Hyundai models of the past. The Australian tune often adds a little bit of extra weight to the steering feel, but I don’t think I can really fault the Tucson despite it adopting a global ride and handling package.

Key details2021 Hyundai Tucson
Engine2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power115kW @ 6200rpm
Torque192Nm @ 4500rpm
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
TransmissionSix-speed torque convertor automatic
Power to weight ratio75.3kW/t
Weight1527kg (tare)
Tow rating1650kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Turning circle11.8m

Conclusion

The 2.0-litre engine in this package sticks out like a sore thumb, in a bad way. On its own, the powertrain isn’t a bad one and scores a solid pass mark. However, in comparison to the rest of the car that’s gunning for a distinction, the engine feels like it has dropped away from the peloton. That shouldn’t dissuade all buyers, and it’s less of an issue for those that are keen to simply buzz around town.

On the plus side, there is still plenty to like about Hyundai’s new medium-sized SUV.

Even in its most basic form, the Tucson’s interior feels well made and comfortable. Nice touches like the wireless charging pad and quality-feeling steering wheel help elevate it from the scorn of ‘poverty pack’ or ‘fleet special’. It’s much better than that, and is well suited to today’s Australian family.

Space is the big one for me, which helps the Tucson score well in fit for purpose.

And if you value ride quality highly, then take one for a run around the block. Preferably one with deteriorating road surfaces. I bet you’ll be impressed.

2021 Hyundai Tucson (base) review-0
Drive

Ratings Breakdown

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