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2021 Hyundai Tucson Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.

2021 Hyundai Tucson Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: SE vs Value vs SEL, Sport vs Limited & Ultimate
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

What 2021 Hyundai Tucson Trim Level Should you Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

Are you a car shopper looking for the perfect model and trim combination? If so, then look no further than the 2021 Hyundai Tucson! As one of Hyundai's signature SUVs, the Tucson provides lots of advanced features as well as stunning design. We have taken an in-depth look at all six available trims on this model -- from the SE vs Value vs SEL to Sport vs Limited & Ultimate -- and will provide helpful insight into each option's differences and features.

Compare the SE vs Value Trims. What is the difference?

While the SE trim may be the most modestly equipped model in the lineup, it delivers an impressive array of premium features and capabilities. Beyond the fundamentals like manually adjustable seats and manual climate control, the SE includes stylish projector headlights with convenient automatic operation, rear privacy glass for a touch of luxury, and a versatile 60/40 split rear bench seat. The dual-level cargo floor enhances practicality, allowing for easy accommodation of both large and small items. With these compelling qualities, the SE proves that even an entry-level variant can offer compelling style and substance.

With heated front seats and power-adjustable driver's seat, the Value trim elevates comfort. Lumbar support and one-touch power windows reduce driver strain, while LED accents and illuminated mirrors enhance style and safety. Side rails hint at capability, subtly distinguishing this well-equipped yet affordable variant. Blending premium features and practicality, the Value trim builds upon the base model to create an appealing yet attainable package for those seeking an ideal balance of comfort, convenience, and value.

Notably, both of these trims have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to give people a simple way to connect their smartphones with the infotainment system. They use seven-inch touchscreens; the difference is that the Value's system comes with HD Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

While the SE has a remote keyless entry system, the Value has a Proximity Key. While these two systems let people enter without physically putting their key in the door to unlock it, only the Proximity Key can stay securely in someone's pocket or bag while he/she turns the engine on with the push button start function.

From a safety perspective, the Value definitely is the more attractive model. It can actively monitor blind spots and rear cross traffic to keep drivers aware of other vehicles that they may not be able to see. Both trims have a system built to keep drivers focused on the roads, as well as lane keeping assist, forward collision warning and avoidance assist, and several stability and control systems. All of these technologies can be set to continually keep an eye on things. When necessary, they can send out warnings and/or taking action.

Compare the Tucson Value vs SEL. What is the difference?

The 2021 Hyundai Tucson Value and SEL trims feature engines with varying horsepower and torque to suit different driving styles. While the Value trim comes with a capable four-cylinder, two-liter engine producing 161 horsepower, the SEL trim ups the ante with a 2.4-liter engine churning out 181 horsepower. This increase in power makes the SEL feel noticeably more responsive and energetic.

Towing capacity also gets a boost from 1,500 to 2,000 pounds. Both trims are available with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive and utilize a six-speed automatic SHIFTRONIC transmission with manual override capabilities. Despite the difference in engine sizes, fuel economy remains comparable across the Value and SEL trims whether opting for front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Overall, the 2021 Hyundai Tucson offers a range of options to satisfy budget-conscious and performance-seeking drivers alike.

The SEL has some finer details on its exterior, such as premium fascias and side sills. Inside the cabin, the SEL still has the same cloth seats that the Value has. It has the same infotainment system as well, which comes with front USB outlets and a rearview monitor that shows the camera feed on the touchscreen when the vehicle is in reverse. The SEL does have the addition of a rear USB charging port. It also has rear air vents to help with air circulation and a dual automatic climate control system.

For the most part, there is no change in the safety system when moving from the Value to any other trim. This shows Hyundai's belief that advanced safety components are important and should be made available to people, regardless of their budgets.

Compare the Tucson SEL vs Sport. What is the difference?

The Sport is the trim at which the exterior lighting is upgraded pretty significantly. The Sport uses LEDs in its headlights, taillights, and daytime running lights. It has fog lights as well, and all of these features can add to the exterior style and contribute to visibility and safety. Further enhancing the aesthetics of the Sport are 19-inch alloy wheels.

At the back of the Sport, there's a hands-free liftgate. It's opening height can be adjusted, which is useful if someone parks in a smaller garage. By simply kicking one's foot underneath the sensor at the back of the SUV, the liftgate can be automatically opened. With the push of a button, the liftgate can be closed.

The Sport's premium audio system delivers an unparalleled listening experience for music enthusiasts. Its external amplifier and eight high-fidelity speakers, including a powerful subwoofer, work in concert with advanced Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology to breathe new life into compressed audio files. Every subtle nuance and instrumental layer becomes crystalline, transforming ordinary songs into extraordinary soundscapes. But the Sport's luxurious touches don't end there. Convenience features like wireless charging and leather-wrapped controls evoke a sense of refinement and prestige destined to delight even the most discerning drivers.

Compare the Tucson Sport vs Limited. What is the difference?

At the Limited level, the wheels go back to being 18-inch alloy wheels. The side mirrors in the Limited are built with turn signals, making it easier for others to see what the Tucson's driver intends to do. Making the Limited feel a little more sophisticated are chrome window trim moldings and door handles.

Moving to the inside of the Limited, the most significant upgrade is the leather seats. Plus, the steering wheel in the Limited has a heating element to help combat chilly weather.

The Limited model enhances driver safety through its surround view monitoring system, which utilizes a network of cameras to assemble a comprehensive 360-degree view of the vehicle's surroundings. This bird's-eye perspective allows drivers to easily navigate tight parking lots and garages where visibility is impeded, adeptly avoiding blind spots and obstacles. With adjustable settings, drivers can focus on specific regions of interest or alternate between wide-angle and close-up views of the terrain for optimized awareness and control. While the Sport model provides a solid driving experience, the Limited supplements the sensory experience with cutting-edge technology that delivers unparalleled oversight and security.

Compare the Tucson Limited vs Ultimate. What is the difference?

Like the Limited, the Ultimate trim has leather seats. One would expect nothing less from the only Tucson trim to be priced a few thousands dollars over the $30,000 threshold. It's the only trim to have ventilation built into its front seats in addition to heating elements, and even the rear seats in the Ultimate are heated. This can go a long way in keeping people comfortable when the weather isn't the most ideal.

The Ultimate is the trim to get if anyone wishes to have an eight-inch touchscreen instead of a seven-inch one. And,the Ultimate's infotainment system comes with navigation. Two other cool high-tech features on the Ultimate are the rain-sensing wipers and automatic high beams that can turn themselves on and off. Keeping the cabin feeling bright and airy is the Ultimate's panoramic sunroof.

Smart cruise control is standard on the Ultimate. With this system activated, the Tucson can monitor the speed of the vehicle in front of it. If that vehicle slows down or speeds up, the Tucson can adjust accordingly to maintain proper distancing and safe speeds.

Further setting apart the Ultimate from the other trims is its forward collision avoidance assist program. It can detect pedestrians and other vehicles in the SUV's path. (The other trims can only sense the presence of vehicles.) If the driver doesn't have a chance to react in time, the system can hit the brakes to prevent an accident.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasonable, practical options when it comes to the 2021 Hyundai Tucson. Hyundai has, quite strategically, given its customers a wide range of choices, all of which have available all-wheel drive. Budget is certainly going to drive some people in the direction of the SE versus the Ultimate, but there are several other things to consider when making a purchasing decision.

If performance is a key factor for some drivers, then the SEL is going to be the starting point. It's the trim at which the 2.4-liter engine becomes standard. For some people, there's no question about whether they'd prefer to have 181 horsepower over 161 horsepower. It's great that moving to the larger engine isn't accompanied by any decrease in fuel efficiency.

When comparing the trims in close detail, the Sport and Limited seem to come out as the front runners. They have LED exterior lights, smart liftgates, heated front seats, and more. The Sport has a nice blend of qualities, with its competitive pricing and modern amenities. The Limited takes it to the next level by having leather seats, a heated steering wheel, and chrome accents. Whether one gets the Sport or Limited just depends on how much people will prioritize some of these more luxurious components.

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Compare the 2020 Hyundai Tucson Trim Levels