2021 Honda CR-V vs. 2021 Hyundai Tucson

2021 Honda CR-V vs Hyundai Tucson

The Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson are two of the most respected and popular compact crossovers on the road. They’re similarly sized—about 73 inches wide and tipping the scales at around 3,400 pounds—priced under $30,000 upon entry, and quite well-equipped, all things considered.

Compared side-by-side, however, the differences between the 2021 CR-V and 2021 Tucson become clear as day.

The Power. The Prestige.

Hyundai’s Tucson can be fitted with one of two engines: a standard 161-horsepower 2.0L inline-four or an available 2.4L powerplant that makes 181 horsepower. Neither of these engines can match up to CR-V’s 1.5L turbo-four, which produces 190 horsepower. But let’s take a closer look why CR-V’s engines are superior.

First up: Hyundai’s entry-level 4-cylinder. It makes 161 horsepower at 6,200 rpm, pounds out 150 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm, and comes mated to a standard 6-speed automatic transmission. While adequate for an SUV, Tucson’s sharp rpm requirements really overburden and over-rev the engine when towing.

The available Tucson 2.4L engine is definitely an upgrade over the base. It makes 181 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and churns out 175 lb.-ft. of torque at just 4,000 rpm—certainly more capable of chewing up torque with a light trailer hitched to the back, though it’s hindered by the model’s only transmission option: a 6-speed.

CR-V’s 1.5-liter engine is, by all accounts, better than both of Tucson’s options. It brings in 190 horsepower at just 5,600 rpm and makes 179 lb.-ft. of torque on a rpm scale (2,000-5000). This ensures maximum torque output when you need it and without Tucson’s sharp drop in production after hitting that sweet spot—just a nice, smooth plateau.

Horsepower Torque (lb.-ft.)
2021 CR-V 1.5L Turbo 190 @ 5,600 rpm* 179 @ 2,000-5,000 rpm*
2021 Tucson 2.0L 161 @ 6,200 rpm 181 @ 6,000 rpm
2021 Tucson 2.4L 181 @ 6,000 rpm 175 @ 4,000 rpm
Horsepower, Torque and MPGs

All About Them MPGs, Baby

Spending more time at the gas station is almost as bad as spending more money on gas. Unfortunately for Hyundai, Tucson forces its owners to do both. The 2021 Tucson with FWD returns just 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway; those fuel-efficiency numbers crater to 22 city/25 highway mpg with the AWD Tucson. It’s one of the least efficient SUVs in its class.

The gas is much, much greener on Honda CR-V’s side of the yard. In fact, the 2WD CR-V returns the same mpg in the city (28) as the Tucson does on the highway! The all-wheel-drive CR-V’s EPA-estimated ratings are even better: 27 city/32 highway mpg. And because the Tucson doesn’t come in a fancy hybrid form, it’s no match for the 2021 CR-V Hybrid and its 40 city/35 highway mpg rating.

If fuel efficiency is important to you, the choice between a Tucson and CR-V is a no-brainer.

City MPG Highway MPG
2021 CR-V 2WD* 28 mpg 34 mpg
2021 Tucson SE FWD 23 mpg 28 mpg
2021 CR-V AWD* 27 mpg 32 mpg
2021 Tucson SE AWD 22 mpg 25 mpg
2021 CR-V Hybrid* 40 mpg 35 mpg

More Junk in CR-V’s Trunk

Why do more parents choose the CR-V over just about any other compact SUV, Tucson included? Just open the rear liftgate to find out. Behind the second-row, the Honda CR-V offers 39.2 cubic feet of room for strollers, luggage and all parental must-haves. In a crunch, that 60/40-split back row folds flat to expand cargo capacity to a maximum of 75.8 cubic feet. It’s one of the largest cargo holds in the segment.

With the Tucson, you’ve got 31 cubic feet in the very back and only 61.9 cubic feet of storage room up to the front row. Sure, it’s just enough room for a few items; but when has a parent needed just enough room to get through the day? CR-V is the clear choice.

2021 CR-V 2021 Tucson
Rear Cargo Volume 39.2 cu. ft.* 31.0 cu. ft.
Max Cargo Volume 75.8 cu. ft.* 61.9 cu. ft.
Cargo Volume

More Junk in CR-V’s Cabin, Too

The new Honda CR-V doesn’t just accommodate inanimate items better than the Hyundai Tucson. For people with beating hearts, the CR-V is much cozier. With the base CR-V LX, you get 3.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Tucson, plus sizably more front headroom, rear legroom, and cabin-wide shoulder room.

2021 Honda CR-V FWD 2021 CR-V LX 2021 Tucson
Passenger Volume 105.9 cu. ft. 102.2 cu. ft.
Headroom (front/rear) 40.1 in/39.2 in 39.6 in./39.2 in.
Legroom (front/rear) 41.3 in./40.4 in. 41.5 in./38.2 in.
Shoulder Room (front/rear) 57.9 in./55.6 in. 57.1 in./55.5 in.

Safety First

Safety is a strong suit for both Honda and Hyundai—the CR-V and Tucson were IIHS 2020 Top Safety Picks last year—though Honda’s SUV makes an ironclad case for being the superior model.

Auto High-Beam Headlights come standard with the base CR-V LX; Hyundai’s comparable High Beam Assist feature is only standard on the Tucson Ultimate—a nearly $7,000 price difference.

Another CR-V LX standard feature: Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow. All CR-V models come with this convenient system. Meanwhile, the rival Tucson’s Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go system is only standard on the pricier Ultimate trim.

The Tucson may be cheaper, trim-by-trim, but as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for.

We Got the Beat, Yeah.

In the 1980s, when the Go-Go’s released their massive hit song, good car sound systems featured a cassette player, AM/FM rotary dial, 200-watts, six speakers and more treble than the human eardrum could handle. Oh, how times have changed.

Standard in the 2021 Hyundai Tucson Sport, Limited and Ultimate models is a 315-watt audio system with eight speakers spread across the cabin. It sounds good to the untrained, naked ear, though some Tucson-owning audiophiles claim that there’s a tinny sound quality with its windows down.

Premium Audio System

The available CR-V audio system is an upgrade to the Tucson. Standard on the CR-V Touring, this 330-watt sound system boasts 9 glorious speakers, including a subwoofer, to deliver crisp, high-quality tunes to jam to. Best of all, thanks to Honda engineers’ design prowess, CR-V’s active noise-cancelling technology and sound-deadening materials ensure those high-fidelity tunes aren’t overwhelmed by engine drone or road noise.


190 @ 5600 rpm (SAE net), 143 @ 6200 rpm (SAE net)

179 lb-ft @ 2000-5000 rpm (SAE net), 129 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm (SAE net)

28 city/34 highway/30 combined mpg rating for 2WD trims. 27 city/32 highway/29 combined mpg rating for AWD trims. 40 city/35 highway/38 combined mpg rating for hybrid trims. Based on 2021 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, battery-pack age/condition (hybrid trims) and other factors.

Based on SAE J1100 cargo volume measurement standard plus, where applicable, floor space between seating rows and seats in their forward-most and upright position.