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Two-row SUVs are quite popular these days, and for good reason. They have the capability that makes many drivers feel more comfortable on the roads, they have enough room to comfortably fit five people, and they have some versatility to them. Today's SUVs are safe and reliable, and the 2021 Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4 are two models that have many high-tech features.
This detailed overview will highlight how these models may be similar to each other, and more importantly, how they differ. After reading this, potential buyers should be able to decide which model might be better for them.
With both SUVs, there are a few different powertrain options. Toyota gives its customers a choice of either a traditional 2.5-liter engine or a hybrid powertrain. At this point, there isn't a hybrid version of the Hyundai Tucson, but it's coming to the market very soon. The current options are both four-cylinder engines, with one being larger and more powerful than the other.
The standard engine on the Tucson is a 2.0-liter engine that has 161 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. With this engine, the Hyundai can tow up to 1,500 pounds. The top four trims in the Tucson lineup use 2.4-liter engines that come with 181 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. They give the vehicle the ability to tow up to 2,000 pounds. Even if people don't necessarily need the extra power, it's sure to be appreciated by those who want their SUVs to be able to confidently handle a variety of situations.
Both of the engines available in the RAV4 are 2.5-liter versions. The non-hybrid engine can generate 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Topping the 200-horsepower mark is significant, and many people will enjoy having this much capability. There's even better news associated with the hybrid RAV4s. These use 2.5-liter engines with electric motors, and they have a net horsepower of 219. In the past, hybrids may have been thought of as weaker vehicles, but this is definitely not true any more.
It's interesting, though, that the 2.4-liter Tucson can tow more than a RAV4 can. With the standard engine, the RAV4 can tow 1,500 pounds, and with the hybrid engine, it has a towing capacity of 1,750 pounds. For anyone who plans on hauling boats, work equipment, small campers, or other types of cargo, this will be important to note.
Some drivers plan on using their SUVs to go into more rugged terrain. In this case, it's a good idea to get all-wheel drive. This is an option on every trims of the Hyundai Tucson. A few RAV4 trims come standard with all-wheel drive, and the rest have the option to get all-wheel drive. Additionally, select RAV4s get to have Dynamic Torque Vectoring all-wheel drive with a rear driveline disconnect so that they can more easily deal with challenging conditions.
Further, the RAV4 has an available Multi-Terrain Select feature. By turning a dial, a driver can optimize performance and set the driving mode to either Mud and Sand, Rock and Dirt, or Snow modes. Having a ground clearance of 8.4 inches helps the RAV4 clear obstacles that it might encounter. In contrast, the Tucson sits lower to the road and has a ground clearance of 6.4 inches.
Hyundai has given the Tucson a six-speed automatic transmission. It has SHIFTRONIC, which gives a driver the ability to manually shift. There are a few different drive modes on the Tucson that allow someone to select from Normal, Eco, or Sport modes depending on his/her preferences.
Depending on whether the Tucson has the smaller or larger engine, it can earn up to 23 or 22 miles per gallon in the city. Highway mileage is 28 miles per gallon. For both types of engine, mileage drops slightly if all-wheel drive is selected.
The Toyota RAV4 also has the same drive modes that the Tucson has. Normal would be the default option that most would use, most of the time. Eco mode would be used to conserve gas, and Sport mode would be ideal when a driver wants the ride to be a bit more exciting. The hybrids have an EV mode as well to minimize reliance on fuel.
If a RAV4 has a non-hybrid powertrain, it uses an eight-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. The hybrids have electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. Both types of sequential shift mode to allow for manual shifting if someone wants to have more control over that aspect of driving.
In terms of efficiency, the RAV4 is the more strategic choice. With the traditional powertrain, it can achieve up to 28 miles per gallon in the city and 35 miles per gallon on the highway. These numbers are pretty solid, but again, they drop slightly if the SUV is equipped with all-wheel drive. A hybrid RAV4 earns an estimated 41 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway. This is going to be a huge selling point.
The warranty on the Toyota RAV4's powertrain is fairly standard when compared with the rest of the market. It's good for five years or 60,000 miles. In contrast, a new Tucson comes with a generous powertrain warranty that's good for ten years or 100,000 miles.
The RAV4 is the more capable model out of these two SUVs. To some people, but certainly not all, this is going to be very important. Those customers will likely be happy to hear that the RAV4 has a few other useful features. It comes with Active Cornering Assist, and some trims have higher quality suspension systems.
The Toyota also has Hill Start Assist Control. This program is useful when stopped on a hill. As the driver switches from the brake to the gas pedal, the feature can ensure that pressure is held on the brakes until the vehicle is ready to get moving again. A similar available component is Downhill Assist Control, and it can limit the speed of the vehicle to make sure it doesn't go too fast down steep slopes.
Many people like the idea of driving SUVs but don't necessarily want anything too large. Neither model is especially big, but the Tucson is the more compact of the two by a slight margin. It has a length of 176.4 inches and a width of 72.8 inches. The RAV4 is 180.9 inches long and 73 inches wide.
At the same time, the Hyundai Tucson has more second-row leg room than the RAV4 does. Its rear-seat passengers have 38.2 inches of leg room while passengers in the RAV4 have 37.8 inches of leg room. Front-row leg room is up to 41.5 inches in the Tucson and 41 inches in the RAV4.
The situation is reversed when it comes to cargo space. The RAV4 has 37.6 cubic feet of space behind its rear seats, and it has a maximum cargo capacity of 69.8 cubic feet when those seats have been folded down. In the Tucson, the rear cargo hold has a volume of 31 cubic feet. Its maximum cargo capacity is 61.9 cubic feet.
Technology is another element that influences how attractive a modern vehicle can be. Most trims of the Tucson have seven-inch touchscreens, with the top trim having an eight-inch touchscreen with integrated navigation. Regardless of the size of the touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included. Bluetooth is standard as well. Some trims have wireless charging, a second-row USB outlet, and an Infinity Audio sound system with eight speakers. All models, with the exception of the entry-level trim, have HD Radio and SiriusXM to add some more entertainment options.
A seven-inch touchscreen is found in the lower trims of the RAV4, too. This touchscreen comes with smartphone compatibility, Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Wi-Fi capability is available. There are a few different infotainment packages with the RAV4, and the higher trims have eight-inch touchscreens and five total USB ports. At the high end of the spectrum, a RAV4 could have 11 JBL speakers and integrated navigation.
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Just like technology has made it easier to stay entertained, it has also made vehicles much safer. Of course, the Tucson and RAV4 have everything one might consider standard, such as multiple air bags, anti-lock brakes, three-point seatbelts, and tire-pressure monitoring systems. In addition, these models have several driver-assist technologies that can continually watch out for potential problems.
Standard in the Tucson are driver attention warning, lane keeping assist, and forward collision-avoidance Assist. This means that the Hyundai SUV can actively try to prevent frontal collisions by warning driver and hitting the brakes, if necessary, alert drivers when their attention needs to be re-focused, and warn driver as well as help correct steering if the vehicle is drifting out of position. Higher trims could have pedestrian detection built into their forward collision-avoidance assist programs, and they have blind-spot collision warning and rear cross-traffic collision warning. A surround view monitor can be found on the top two trims.
Every one of the RAV4 SUVs has a Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 package. It comes with pre-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, steering assist and lane departure alert, lane tracing, road sign assist, and adaptive cruise control. With road sign assist, the vehicle read road signs relating to the speed limit, changing traffic patterns, and other situations, and then it can display that information in the dashboard just in case someone might not have noticed it. Adaptive cruise control is useful when driving on highways, as it allows the RAV4 to adjust its speed in the even that the leading vehicle slows down, or then speeds up. Adaptive cruise control is only found on the top trim of the Hyundai Tucson.
Higher trims of the RAV4 have blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert, and they could have front and rear parking assist. This would come with automatic braking to prevent minor fender benders associated with maneuvering in tight spaces. Finally, a surround view camera can also be installed in the RAV4. Toyota calls it a Bird's Eye View Camera.
Which Has the Best Value?
Budget is going to be a key factor as customers shop for new vehicles, and if price is the main concern, the Tucson would be the better pick.
The Hyundai Tucson starts at just $23,700 with the SE trim. The Value, which is the other trim that has the smaller engine, is priced at $25,150. The SEL costs $26,100, the Sport is priced at $28,250, and the Limited has a price tag of $29,400. The Ultimate, which has all the best safety and technology features, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, leather upholstery, and a panoramic sunroof, costs $32,050.
With the RAV4, there are 11 trims, so it can be hard to keep track of everything. There are so many trims because several are available as hybrids. In general, a Hybrid is about $2,500 more expensive than its non-hybrid counterpart. The RAV4 lineup starts with the LE ($26,250), and it ends with the Limited Hybrid ($37,330). The Limited Hybrid has SofTex upholstery, which is a synthetic leather, and it has available heated and ventilated front seats, dark brown accents in its interior, a digital rearview mirror, and a power moonroof. A panoramic moonroof is available.
When looking at the details, it seems like the Hyundai Tucson has the nicer interior amenities. Leather seats and a standard panoramic sunroof are going to attract some attention from people with more refined tastes. However, the RAV4 is clearly the more capable of the two models, and it has higher quality mechanical components.
Which is Better?
Both the Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4 are excellent choices. While the RAV4 is more expensive than the Tucson is, it still has a reasonable cost. Plus, it's quite powerful and fairly efficient, and it has the hybrid option. It's the larger model in terms of overall size and cargo capacity. Finally, it has more comprehensive safety and technology packages.
The Tucson, though, does have more second-row leg room. Its sophisticated cabin is very appealing, and it's not as if it doesn't have a decent amount of capability. The infotainment system on the Tucson is exactly what many customers are looking for, and it's great that this model comes with many standard driver-assist systems.
Buyers will have to decide whether they're more attracted to the sportier, more athletic nature of the Toyota RAV4 and are willing to pay a little more for this model when compared with the Hyundai Tucson.