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Hyundai Tucson Review 2021

Andy Brady

Written by

Andy Brady

Hyundai Tucson
Hyundai Tucson

1/10

1 / 10

00/10
heycar rating
"Cool and sophisticated family SUV"
  • Launched: 2021
  • SUV
  • Petrol, Hybrid, Mild hybrid, PHEV

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Quick overview

Pros

  • Bold appearance stands out from the crowd
  • Interior is upmarket and very spacious
  • Wide range of hybrid engines

Cons

  • Responses from the DCT automatic gearbox can be a little tardy
  • Ride quality is harsh – especially with 19-inch alloy wheels
  • It's really not the affordable SUV it once was

Overall verdict on the Hyundai Tucson

"The Hyundai Tucson has always been a very competent family SUV that's lived in the shadows of rivals like the Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Tiguan. Bought primarily for its long warranty, impressive practicality and affordable price tag, there was nothing sexy about the old Tucson. The same can't be said about the new model..."

Hyundai Tucson Review 2021: exterior dynamic front

Love or hate the design of the 2021 Hyundai Tucson, there's certainly no danger of it blending into the background. You only need to look at the photos to realise there's been a step change at Hyundai, with the Tucson now significantly posher than before, lifting it above cars like the Peugeot 3008 and Kia Sportage and – Hyundai hopes – pitching it against the Mercedes GLA, Audi Q3 and BMW X1. We'll explore why in our Hyundai Tucson review. Is it one of the best small SUVs going? 


While the Hyundai Tucson's exterior will get tongues wagging, its interior is a little more conventional. But it still has the power to surprise existing Tucson owners – with its plush finishes and high-tech infotainment system. Fortunately, all this added style doesn't come at the cost of practicality. Measuring just under 4.4m long and 1.85m wide, it's roomy enough for a family of four or five (even the tallest of teenagers will be comfortable in the back), while Tucson's boot space is one of the biggest in the class at 620 litres.


There isn't really a billy basic Hyundai Tucson. The most affordable model is the Hyundai Tucson SE Connect, which itself has pretty much everything you could possibly want. There's a 10.25-inch navigation system, an equally large digital instrument cluster and a reversing camera. The Tucson Premium trim adds bigger wheels, chrome exterior styling, ambient lighting and a premium sound system, while the sporty N Line model features 19-inch alloys, part-leather seats and, on the Tucson N Line S, a premium sound system. The top-spec Ultimate is fully-loaded, with ventilated leather seats, a panoramic glass sunroof and a powered tailgate.


You can no longer buy a Hyundai Tucson with a diesel engine. Instead, there's a line-up of petrol and hybrid power – including mild-hybrid, conventional hybrid and plug-in hybrid. Essentially, the more you're willing to pay, the further the Tucson can travel under electric power. The PHEV can cover 38 miles from a charge before the petrol motor kicks in, which is ideal for those who want to cover a short commute during the week before hitting the motorway at the weekend. We've rounded up the best hybrid SUVs if you want to know more.


Hyundai has tried to make the Hyundai Tucson sportier than before, and it certainly remains surprisingly composed in the corners. It's not as enjoyable to fling around as a SEAT Ateca, but it's more satisfying to drive than a Skoda Karoq. That comes at the expense of ride quality, though, especially as most Tucson models come with chunky alloy wheels and rubber band tyres.


Of course, the Hyundai Tucson's shift upmarket is going to hit buyers in the wallet. The most affordable models start from nearly £29,000 – and that's Volvo XC40 or BMW X1 money. You do get a lot of equipment for the cash, though, and if you're not fussed about ordering a brand new car, there are already savings available on pre-registered or ex-demonstrator models. 

If you're looking for the older version, you need our used Hyundai Tucson (2015-2021) review.

Is the 2021 Hyundai Tucson right for you?

If you need a spacious family SUV and want something that's going to turn heads, the Hyundai Tucson is a great choice. It's got a smart interior that's well kitted out, while the infotainment is quite possibly the best in the business. There's an engine to suit almost every buyer (although high-mileage drivers will have to look elsewhere for diesel power), and hybrid models ought to be cheap to run.

What’s the best Hyundai Tucson model/engine to choose?

For the majority of buyers, we reckon a mild-hybrid Hyundai Tucson is probably the most appealing. While it won't travel under electric power alone (apart from when coasting to a stop), it'll be cheap to run and it's also one of the more affordable models to buy. The hybrid could be a good option if you cover a lot of driving, but the plug-in hybrid probably isn't worth the expense (at least until depreciation has taken its toll on prices).


In terms of trim levels, high-spec models are lavishly kitted out but difficult to justify against posh competitors. The sporty Hyundai Tucson N Line and N Line S models look pretty smart, while the  Tucson Premium appeals for its smaller 18-inch alloy wheels (on non-hybrid models).

What other cars are similar to the Hyundai Tucson?

The new Nissan Qashqai offers strong competition to the Hyundai Tucson, as does the ever-popular Skoda Karoq and Peugeot 3008. Other VW Group offerings include the SEAT Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan, while there's a new Kia Sportage on its way. You should also consider the Ford Kuga, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V (especially if hybrid power appeals), while you may also wish to look at premium alternatives like the BMW X1, Volvo XC40 and Audi Q3

Comfort and design: Hyundai Tucson interior

"The Hyundai Tucson's interior isn't as instantly eye-catching as its exterior. It'll be less divisive, though, and it certainly looks smart enough to challenge premium competitors."

Hyundai Tucson Review 2021: interior

The Hyundai Tucson's interior represents a vast improvement over its slightly drab predecessor. We like the curved dashboard, while an abundance of different materials and chrome trim means it looks (and feels) a lot classier than a Kia Sportage or even a Volkswagen Tiguan.


There's a flat centre cockpit display housing a wide range of touch-sensitive buttons. While traditionalists (us included) would prefer actual, physical controls for things like the climate control, at least you don't have to wade through endless menus to perform simple tasks with the Hyundai Tucson. It could look a bit cleaner and more minimalist, but it's all very useable. Automatic models get buttons rather than a traditional gear selector, which adds to the upmarket vibe.


The Hyundai Tucson's seating position isn't as high as some drivers will want from a family SUV, but we found it easy to get comfortable. Electric adjustment for the lumbar support is standard across the range, but you'll need a top-spec Ultimate model for full electric height adjustment. The Ultimate even gets ventilated seats while the rest of the range (bar the SE Connect) features heated seats.

Quality and finish

If the 2021 Hyundai Tucson is serious about competing with upmarket rivals like the Volvo XC40, it has to be pretty much perfect in terms of interior quality. And it is. You won't find a flimsy finish or hard material.


A leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard across the range, while all but the entry-level SE Connect feature ambient lighting. N Line and N Line S models feature part-leather seats, while the Ultimate trim level features full leather.

No matter which Hyundai Tucson you buy, you'll get the same excellent 10.25-inch navigation system. It's one of the best displays on the market, we reckon, with fast responses, crisp graphics and logical menu layouts. There's DAB radio as standard, of course, as well as Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.


A 10.25-inch digital instrument display is also provided across the range – this is equally impressive, only really beaten by the Virtual Cockpit you'll find in an Audi Q3. A Krell premium sound system is standard on N Line S, Premium and Ultimate models, while a wireless phone charging pad features on all but SE Connect trim levels. 

Space and practicality: Hyundai Tucson boot space

The Hyundai Tucson's boot capacity can accommodate up to 620 litres of luggage (depending on engine – batteries eat into boot space on the more electrified models). This makes it competitive against the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Karoq, while it's significantly bigger than a Nissan Qashqai or Peugeot 3008.


The boot's usefully wide, while a false floor means there's not much of a lip for lifting items over. If you're after an electric tailgate, you'll need to find a range-topping Ultimate trim.


Boot aside, there's plenty of room in the Tucson. It's incredibly spacious up front, with a huge amount of head and legroom. There's endless storage options, too, including a generous glovebox and very usable cupholders in the centre console.


Those in the back should be equally happy. It's more than spacious enough to carry two adults, although the Citroen C5 Aircross (with its three individual rear seats) is a better option if you need to carry more. Big rear windows mean it doesn't feel claustrophobic, and even behind taller adults there's plenty of knee room.

Handling and ride quality: What is the Hyundai Tucson like to drive?

"The Tucson's quite a heavy car, with plug-in hybrid models nudging two-tonnes. Combine that with standard fit 19-inch alloy wheels and suspension tuned for sportiness, and the new Tucson simply isn't as comfortable as a Skoda Karoq."

Hyundai Tucson Review 2021: exterior dynamic rear

If you're looking for a comfortable ride quality, we'd recommend looking for a Hyundai Tucson with 17-inch (standard on the SE Connect) or 18-inch alloys (standard on none-hybrid Premium models). We've only sampled it with the 19s, though, and it's noticeably firm over uneven road surfaces.


On the flip side, it handles eagerly, with much less lean in the corners than a lot of rivals. The darty steering inspires confidence, while its wide tyres don't relinquish grip easily. For drivers expecting to venture into a muddy campsite, you might want to look for one with four-wheel drive. This is available with the 180PS mild-hybrid unit, as well as the PHEV.


The Hyundai Tucson is perfectly pleasant and easy to drive around town, where a reversing camera and parking sensors (both standard across the range) help with parking.

What engines and gearboxes are available in the Hyundai Tucson?

The Hyundai Tucson's engine line-up is based around one 1.6-litre petrol engine, which is available in a number of different power outputs and with varying degrees of hybrid assistance.


The entry-level model is a straightforward petrol (badged the 1.6 T-GDi), producing 150PS and available exclusively with a six-speed manual gearbox. This is also available with 48-volt mild-hybrid tech, giving it a small boost in economy (although performance stays the same), as well as the option of a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox


We're yet to try the less potent Hyundai Tucson models, but we have sampled one with the same 1.6-litre engine and mild-hybrid technology (badged MHEV), with output boosted to 180PS. The more powerful unit is available exclusively with the dual-clutch automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, which hampers economy. It's also only available with pricier trim levels.


This setup is quick enough for a family SUV, accelerating to 62mph from a standstill in 9.0 seconds flat. Our biggest qualm is the gearbox, which can be a little hesitant to drop down a gear when you need to get a shift on.


If you want to travel anywhere under electric power alone, you'll need one of the full hybrid or plug-in hybrid models. The standard 'self-charging' hybrid combines the same 1.6-litre petrol engine with a fairly bulky 1.49kWh battery and an electric motor to produce 230PS – enough to cover 0-62mph in 8.0 seconds. The ability to set off under electric power alone makes this a particularly pleasant companion around town; but again, its automatic gearbox (this time a six-speed) can be a little clumsy.


Topping the range in terms of engines is the plug-in hybrid unit. This is really aimed at company car drivers chasing tax benefits, but its 38-mile electric range means it could be ideal if you have a short commute. We're not expecting a diesel engine to be added to the Tucson range.

Refinement and noise levels

Hyundai's premium aspirations for the new Tucson means there's been a clear concentration on noise levels in the Tucson. Hybrid power helps, too – the mild-hybrid models can coast to a stop with the engine off; hybrid Tucsons can set off under electric power; while plug-in hybrid derivatives can travel a number of miles before the petrol motor kicks in.


There's the usual wind noise at motorway speeds (this afflicts most family SUVs of this size), but it's certainly quieter than, say, a Nissan Qashqai.

Safety equipment: How safe is the Hyundai Tucson?

There's a whole range of active safety systems fitted as standard across the Tucson range. These include Forward Collision Assist (FCA) – with car, pedestrian and cycle detection, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), Lane Follow Assist (LFA), Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Manual Speed Limit Assist (MSLA), Multi Collision Braking (MCA), and tyre pressure monitoring with individual tyre display.


The mid-range Hyundai Tucson Premium builds on this list of initialisms with Blind Spot Collision Warning (BCW) with additional Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA) on Hybrid models, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA) with additional Junction Turning assist on DCT and Hybrid models, as well as Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW) and Safe Exit Warning.


The new Hyundai Tucson is yet to be crash tested by Euro NCAP.

MPG and fuel costs: What does a Hyundai Tucson cost to run?

"Hyundai's gone big on hybrid tech in the Tucson. As such, all models will be fairly cheap to run, although don't expect to buy a diesel model. That's a dirty word now."

Hyundai Tucson Review 2021: exterior three-quarter photo

Even without hybrid assistance, the entry-level 1.6-litre petrol returns a respectable 41.5mpg in combined WLTP fuel economy tests. Add the 48-volt mild-hybrid system and you should see 42.2mpg, while the DCT automatic model is good for 43.5mpg.


The 230PS Hybrid model is officially capable of 49.6mpg, but don't pay too much attention to the 201.8mpg claimed figure for the plug-in hybrid. Do, however, pay attention to its 38-mile electric range – great if you've got a short commute and can charge the car on your driveway.

How reliable is the Hyundai Tucson?

Hyundai generally performs well in terms of reliability, so we wouldn't expect anything other than the utmost dependability from the latest Tucson.


The brand performs well in HonestJohn.co.uk's Satisfaction Index, achieving a score of 9.38/10 for reliability. While the latest Tucson is too new to rank, the old model had an average reliability rating of 9.15. A five-year warranty should put your mind at rest, too.

Insurance groups and costs

Look for a 150PS petrol Tucson if you're concerned about the cost of insurance. In SE Connect trim, the entry-level engine falls into insurance group 12E, which is comparable with rivals. We'd recommend shopping around for quotes before committing to a car – particularly if you're a young driver or live in a high-risk area.

VED car tax: What is the annual road tax on a Hyundai Tucson?

As most Hyundai Tucson models feature some kind of hybrid power (whether that's mild-hybrid, 'self-charging' hybrid or plug-in hybrid), most attract a yearly VED rate of £145. That's pretty typical – you'll need to look at an all-electric alternative like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 for free road tax.


Watch out for the premium car tax. This applies to all Tucsons with a list price of more than £40,000 (even if you buy second-hand), adding an extra £480/year to your tax bill for five years (from the second time the car's taxed). You'll only need to be concerned about this if you're buying a particularly high-spec Tucson.

How much should you be paying for a Hyundai Tucson?

"With a start price in excess of £28,000 and top models fetching more than £37,000, the Hyundai Tucson is no longer a budget choice in the SUV market."

Hyundai Tucson Review 2021: exterior

Reflecting its premium aspirations, the Hyundai Tucson is priced higher than the equivalent Skoda Karoq or Kia Sportage. You can save money by looking for a nearly-new or ex-demonstrator model, though.


A Hyundai Tucson SE Connect with the 1.6 T-GDI petrol engine can be bought with delivery miles on the clock for less than £24,000, while we've seen mid-spec Tucson Premium models offered from £25,000.


As usual, you'll pay a premium for going green. A new Hyundai Tucson Hybrid starts from £32,460, while the Plug-in Hybrid is priced from £39,330 in N Line trim. Around £28,500 will buy you a hybrid ex-demo, while the PHEV is yet to hit the nearly-new market.


What is a pre-reg or nearly-new car?

Trim levels and standard equipment

The Tucson range is split into a number of key trim levels: SE Connect, Premium and Ultimate, as well as sporty N Line and N Line S grades.


As you'd expect for a family SUV with a start price of around £28,500, the Hyundai Tucson SE Connect is far from basic. Highlights include 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone air conditioning, a 10.25-inch infotainment system (and a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster), cruise control, rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera. There's also a wide range of active safety systems including Forward Collision Assist (FCA) – with car, pedestrian and cycle detection, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), Lane Follow Assist (LFA), Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Manual Speed Limit Assist (MSLA), Multi Collision Braking (MCA), and tyre pressure monitoring with individual tyre display.


The Hyundai Tucson Premium adds 18-inch alloy wheels (19-inch on Hybrid models), LED headlamps, ambient interior lighting, heated front seats and heated steering wheel, smart adaptive cruise control with stop go function (DCT and Hybrid models), front and rear parking sensors with rear-view camera, and smart key with keyless entry and engine start/stop button. There's also a Krell premium audio system with eight-speakers and a subwoofer, as well as a wireless smartphone charging pad. Additional safety equipment includes Blind Spot Collision Warning (BCW) with additional Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA) on Hybrid models, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA) with additional Junction Turning assist on DCT and Hybrid models, as well as Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW) and Safe Exit Warning.


The range-topping Hyundai Tucson Ultimate trim features 19-inch wheels, satin chrome door mouldings, leather seat trim with electric adjustment to driver and front passenger seats – both with heat and ventilation function, and driver’s seat position memory function. Heated rear seats are standard, as well as three-zone climate control with separate rear-seat control, a panoramic sunroof with front section electric tilt and slide function, and a smart electric tailgate. Additional safety equipment includes Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA), Highway Drive Assist (HDA), and Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance (RCCA).


The Tucson N Line looks quite distinctive, with its bespoke front grille, spoilers, bumpers and 19-inch alloy wheels. Inside, you'll find N-branded sporty seats with black suede and leather seat coverings, as well as red stitching. A dedicated N steering wheel arrives complete with an N logo. Further spec highlights include heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, Smart Key, wireless charging pad and ambient interior lighting. N Line S models additionally receive three-zone climate control, a tilt-and-slide electric panoramic roof, Smart electric tailgate, a heated steering wheel, Krell premium audio with eight speakers and subwoofer and added SmartSense safety including Blind Spot Collision Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

How much is a Hyundai Tucson?

On-the-road pricing starts from £28,710 for a Hyundai Tucson SE Connect with the 150PS 1.6-litre petrol engine. The top-spec Hyundai Tucson Ultimate is priced from £33,110 with the same engine, rising to £42,030 in plug-in hybrid flavour.

David Ross

Answered by

David Ross

Which is better: the Hyundai Tucson or Kia Sportage?

The Hyundai Tucson is a generation ahead of the Kia Sportage. While we rate the Sportage as an affordable family SUV with a long warranty, the Tucson is leagues ahead in terms of interior quality.

Andy Brady

Answered by

Andy Brady

Is the Hyundai Tucson good on fuel?

With mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology on offer, all Hyundai Tucson models should be affordable to run. In Premium trim, the 1.6-litre petrol manual returns a combined 41.5mpg in WLTP fuel economy tests, while the the MHEV (mild-hybrid) version is rated at 42.2mpg. The Hybrid officially returns 49.6mpg.

Russell Campbell

Answered by

Russell Campbell

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