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Hyundai Tucson vs. Jeep Cherokee: The Value Buy and the Small Beast

The Hyundai Tucson and the Jeep Cherokee are both used to living in the shadows. The larger and more upscale Palisade eclipses the Tucson, and the Grand Cherokee often overshadows the Cherokee. Even so, the Tucson and the Cherokee remain as one of the more compelling five-seaters in the compact SUV class. Out of the two, which would you say is the best?

What the 2021 Jeep Cherokee offers

A Jeep Cherokee is displayed during the Vienna Autoshow
The Jeep Cherokee | Manfred Schmid/Getty Images

The Cherokee is arguably the most practical choice in Jeep’s lineup. It’s simple to navigate, and it has decent on-road manners. However, reviews are mixed on how the Cherokee performs. As with the outgoing model, the 2021 Cherokee comes with a 180-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder. 

Road testers at Car and Driver note that the Cherokee’s standard four-cylinder feels lackluster. For this reason, Car and Driver recommends the 271-hp, 3.2-liter V6 that comes on the Trailhawk trim. You’ll want the Trailhawk model anyway to unlock the Cherokee’s beastly off-roading chops. There’s also the available turbo-four that produces 270-hp. No matter which engine you choose, a nine-speed automatic is standard. 

The interior of the Jeep Cherokee
2021 Jeep Cherokee Latitude LUX interior | Jeep

The biggest news for the 2021 Cherokee is on the inside. Jeep added more active safety features to the base model, including blind-spot monitoring and automated emergency braking. There’s also the new luxury-focused Latitude Lux, which replaces the Cherokee’s standard cloth seats with Nappa leather. One of the best things about the Cherokee is that all trims come with a user-friendly infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.  

What the 2021 Hyundai Tucson presents 

2021 Hyundai Tucson during sunset
2021 Hyundai Tucson | Hyundai

RELATED: The 2017 Hyundai Tucson Is a Safe Pick for Teen Drivers

Hyundai’s Tucson isn’t what critics call a standout regarding performance. Still, the Tucson presents obvious value. It is pleasant to drive and offers many in-car gadgets too.

There aren’t any significant changes with the 2021 Tucson, so you might question if there’s a real reason to buy it. It is an awkward time to buy a new Tucson because Hyundai is getting ready to unveil the 2022 version. The 2022 Tucson will have a bolder look and updated powertrains. 

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

Just like last year, the 2021 Tucson comes with a 161-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The base engine is OK enough, but the available 184-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder makes for a better experience. Both options have a six-speed automatic transmission. 

The Tucson impresses with its quiet cabin and comfortable seats. Like the Cherokee, the Tucson comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple Carplay, and Android Auto. The Tucson also has helpful safety features, including driver drowsiness monitoring and lane-departure warning.  

So which one would you choose?

2021 Hyundai Tucson driving
2021 Hyundai Tucson | Hyundai

RELATED: 2020 Jeep Cherokee vs. GMC Terrain: Which SUV Is More Practical?

 A 2021 Tucson begins at $23,700, and a 2021 Cherokee starts at $26,310. Out of the two, the Tucson is the more attractive choice if your main priority is to have a practical, everyday SUV. Not only is the Tucson cheaper than the Cherokee, but it has a better reliability history. Alternatively, the best reason to go with the Cherokee is for its off-roading performance.