Should You Take the 2021 Hyundai Tucson Off Road?

The 2021 Hyundai Tuscon can technically go off-road, but it’s clear from its ground clearance and torque specs that it wasn’t designed for the purpose.
Written by Ethan Moser
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Nov 23, 2022
Strictly speaking, you could take the 2021
Hyundai Tucson
off road, but it’s clear—given the SUV’s ground clearance, torque, and tires—that it wasn’t designed with off-roading in mind. When it comes to mild, moderate, and serious off-roading, you’ll probably want to turn your sights to more capable vehicles. 
If your vehicle can handle the great outdoors and maneuver along even the most unorthodox terrain, then you’re all set for the adventure of a lifetime. But how can you differentiate between cars that are actually off-road capable and those that simply look capable? 
With this comprehensive guide from
Jerry
—the #1-rated
car insurance
comparison shopping
super app
—we’ll break down the 2021 Hyundai Tucson’s off-road capabilities spec by spec to determine whether or not the SUV is trail-ready or if it should stick to the highway. 
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Can the 2021 Hyundai Tucson go off road?

Strictly speaking, yes—the 2021 Hyundai Tucson can tackle certain mild off-road terrains thanks to its all-wheel-drive drivetrain. But it is far from being a capable rock climber like, for example, the
Jeep Wrangler
Considering that the Tucson is only $26,175 at its cheapest, it’s no surprise that it isn’t decked out with the necessary specifications to tackle serious off-road terrain. But where exactly does the 2021 Hyundai Tucson fall flat and where does it measure up to its off-road capable competitors? Let’s take a close look at the key specs that determine whether or not the Tucson is capable of off-roading. 

Ground clearance

Perhaps the most important spec when it comes to off-roading is a vehicle’s ground clearance measurement. Ground clearance refers to the distance between the ground and the bottom of a car’s chassis. Ideally, only vehicles with a ground clearance spec between 8.8 and 10.8 inches should be used for off-roading. 
That said, it’s no surprise that the 2021 Hyundai Tucson is less than ideal for offroading considering its 7.3-inch ground clearance spec. While Hyundai still insists that the Tucson can be used for off-roading purposes thanks to its all-wheel-drive drivetrain, we’d recommend against any serious off-roading to avoid damaging your Tucson’s undercarriage

Torque

When it comes to the ideal off-road SUV or truck, a low-end torque output is paramount. Low-end torque refers to a high torque output at a lower RPM. This is because, while off-roading, power is more important than speed, making it unnecessary for your vehicle’s tires to spin incredibly fast.
The 2021 Hyundai Tucson falls flat yet again with a torque output of 178 lb-ft @ 4,000 RPM. That isn’t much power—especially if you’re heading off road. 

Tires

As a standard feature, the 2021 Hyundai Tucson features a set of 235/65R17 tires. If you have absolutely no idea what that means, here’s what you need to know. 
235/65R17 tires are approximately 235 millimeters wide with an aspect ratio of 65%. A tire’s aspect ratio refers to the measurement of its sidewalls—the distance from rim to tread. In this case, it would be approximately 65% of the tire’s total width, or 153 millimeters. Finally, the ‘17’ at the end of the tire code suggests that the tires are designed to be outfitted on a set of 17-inch wheels
While classified as all-weather tires, 235/65R17 tires are not all-terrain tires. While they might be suitable for snow and mud, they’re less than ideal for the rock-climbing associated with typical off-roading. 

Drivetrain

One of the few places where the 2021 Hyundai Tucson shines is with its standard all-wheel-drive drivetrain. All-wheel drive is an absolute necessity when it comes to off-roading. 
But don’t run off to the trails just yet! The Tucson’s all-wheel drive might make it great at driving uphill in the snow, but it’s not enough to assuage all of the SUV’s other off-roading sins. 

Angles

Off-roading is all about angles—specifically, the approach angle and departure angle: 
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
The 2021 Hyundai Tucson’s respective approach and departure angles of 17.9 and 24.5 degrees confirm that the SUV was designed for the highway as opposed to the trail. Like most of the Tucson’s specs, these angles might be capable of handling mild off-road terrain but wouldn’t be recommended for anything advanced. 

Off-road rating: In a pinch

Using
Jerry’s
super-sophisticated DIRT rating system, we’ve rated the 2021 Hyundai Tucson’s off-roading capabilities. Here’s a breakdown of the system:
Rating
Meaning
Description
D
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
I
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
R
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
T
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
We’re going to give the 2021 Hyundai Tucson an I rating. While the SUV is capable of handling a dirt road or other mild off-road conditions, attempting to tackle moderate or advanced off-road terrains in your Tucson could prove destructive and dangerous. 

The best off-road alternatives to the 2021 Hyundai Tucson

Thankfully, the market is full of fuel-efficient, affordable, and powerful off-roading alternatives to the 2021 Hyundai Tucson. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite options:
Alternative
Model
Price
Details
Best affordable alternative
2022 Subaru Crosstrek
$22,445
Despite being $4,000 cheaper than the Tucson, the Subaru Crosstrek’s 8.7-inch ground clearance spec is a full inch and a half higher—making it a better option for off-road exploration.
Best fuel-efficient alternative
2021 For Escape
$30,705
Available as both a hybrid and a PHEV, the Ford Escape is significantly more fuel efficient than the Tucson with a combined fuel economy of 28 mpg.
Best alternative for serious off-roading
2022 Ford Expedition
$51,080
With a ground clearance spec that is more than two inches higher than the Tucson's, the Ford Expedition is more capable of tackling advanced off-road terrain.
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How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

Regardless of the off-road truck or SUV you decide to go with, you can rest assured that you’re getting the best deal on the car insurance coverage you need when you shop using
Jerry
Jerry is the #1-rated car insurance comparison shopping
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