2021 Hyundai Tucson vs. Hyundai Elantra: Compact Car or Compact SUV?

Many Hyundai vehicles are honorable. But two of the brand’s most popular models are the Hyundai Tucson and the Hyundai Elantra. These Hyundais are ideal for everyday drives and offer desirable in-car tech. But how would you decide between a compact car like the 2021 Elantra and a compact SUV like the 2021 Tucson?

Driving the 2021 Hyundai Elantra vs. driving the 2021 Hyundai Tucson 

A red 2021 Hyundai Elantra driving on a highway
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra in action | Photo via Hyundai

The 2021 model year is exciting for the Elantra since it’s completely redesigned. Hyundai gave the Elantra a much bolder look, similar to the slightly larger Sonata. Plus, there are four updated powertrain options for you to consider. Front-wheel drive is standard across the board.

Standard Elantras come with a 147-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a continuously variable automatic (CVT). The base option is OK, but as Edmunds highlights, its acceleration is dull. For more power, there’s the N Line trim, which has a 201-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder. This turbo-four is available with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic 

The Elantra is also available as a hybrid. And for the spiciest driving experience, there’s the top-of-the-line Elantra N that features a turbo-four that generates 276-hp. It’s available with a six-speed manual or an eight-speed dual-clutch auto.

2021 Hyundai Tucson during sunset
2021 Hyundai Tucson | Hyundai

Conversely, there aren’t many changes for the 2021 Tucson since Hyundai is redesigning it for 2022. As with the outgoing model, it comes with a 161-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Most critics find the Tucson’s base engine pokey and boring. The available 181-hp, four-cylinder earns more praise. No matter which engine you choose, both come with a six-speed auto. You also have a choice between FWD and AWD. 

Comparing car cabins

The front seats of a 2021 Hyundai Tucson
2021 Hyundai Tucson Interior | Hyundai

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In addition to being well-rounded performers, the Elantra and the Tucson are both known for providing modern cabins. Both Hyundais are five-seaters that you can upgrade with leather, among other amenities. The Tucson will give you more room and has 61.9 cubic feet of total cargo space; the Elantra sedan has 14.4 cubic feet.

Front seats of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra.
2021 Hyundai Elantra interior | Hyundai

The Elantra and the Tucson are both great options if you want advanced tech at a lower price. The Elantra now comes with an 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The Tucson comes with a 7-inch touchscreen display. This SUV also gives you smartphone integration apps, but you still have to use a cable to connect. 

These Hyundais will give you helpful safety features too. Both the Elantra and the Tucson come with forward-collision warning and lane-keep assist. Although the Elantra gives you more freebies such as pedestrian detection, this feature is an upgrade for the Tucson. 

Would you buy the Elantra or the Tucson?

Cars are seen at a Hyundai car dealership. Hyundai and Kia announced on October 11, 2019 that they have agreed to settle a class action lawsuit over engine fireshttps://www.motorbiscuit.com/the-hyundai-veracruz-walked-so-the-hyundai-santa-fe-could-run/
A Hyundai dealership | Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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OK, so the 2021 Elantra begins at $19,650 while the 2021 Tucson starts at $23,700. The Elantra is the more impressive new car since it comes with more gadgets and performance options. You might also want the Elantra because it’s smaller and easier to park. Still, the 2021 Tucson is a good choice, especially for its strong reliability ratings and comfy cabin.