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New for 2021

By: Ron Corbett, APA Staff Writer    

Traditionally, new vehicle reveals are carefully stage-managed at the Media Days of major car shows. Covid 19 has changed the landscape for new vehicle unveilings, which are now done either live online, or just via a news release. Of the two significant new vehicles reviewed here, the Hyundai Tucson was launched live, online, with the Jeep unveiled in a simple email.

Hyundai photo

2022 Hyundai Tucson goes on sale this spring

What’s new
The fourth-generation Tucson arrives in the spring of 2021. Built on an 86 mm (3.4 inch) longer wheelbase, the new Tucson is 155 mm (6.1 inches) longer overall than its predecessor. There are two new engines, a normally-aspirated 2.5L four and a hybrid that combines a 1.6L four with an electric motor. A high-performance "N" line model is a possible addition, as is a plug-in hybrid.

Hyundai revealed the styling of the new Tucson during the 2020 car show season in the guise of the radical T Vision concept. The new Tucson is essentially a four-door, slightly taller version of the avant-garde concept car. It features a wide grille with segmented elements at its periphery that house the daytime running lights and head lamps. Strong accent lines flow from the tops of the front fenders into the front doors. The most radical styling elements are the two, forward-sloping, accent lines that originate near the door handles and flow down to the bottom of the doors.The cabin has a strong horizontal emphasis, with a small gauge package (TFT in premium trims) and a large infoscreen integrated into the centre of the dashboard. The dashboard sweeps dramatically into the front door trim panels. A wireless version of the iOS-Android cellphone interface should be standard, as will be heated front seats, with ventilated front seats offered on premium trims.

Hyundai photo

2022 Hyundai Tucson interior

Most Tucsons will be powered by a 187 horsepower 2.5L four that is working its way through the Hyundai lineup this year. It delivers good usable power without the complexity of a turbo. The 2.5L is hooked up to a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission, with a six-speed automatic used on the hybrid.
Except for the base trim where it is optional, all-wheel drive is standard.

Standard active safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, including for pedestrians and cyclists, and a lane-keeping system. Blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors, active cruise control with stop and go, and self-parking will likely be optional. Rear seat occupancy and unsafe exit warnings will be available, possibly as options. 

FCA photo

Clean and contemporary Jeep Grand Cherokee L

What’s new
After a successful eleven year run, FCA has finally renewed the Grand Cherokee. In a move that is sure to induce confusion, FCA has two generations of the same model on sale as 2021s. The new Grand Cherokee is being launched as the three-row Grand Cherokee L, with a two-row version to follow later. Jeep eventually plans to offer a plug-in hybrid powertrain, to be sold as the 4xe.

Compared with the previous-generation Grand Cherokee, the new Grand Cherokee L is built on a 77 mm (3 inch) longer wheelbase, is 382 mm (15 inches) longer, and taller. The Grand Cherokee L features three rows of seats, to compete with mainstream three-rows like the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade and Toyota Highlander, but with the added cachet of the Jeep brand. The Grand Cherokee L could also be a viable alternative to luxury vehicles like the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLS.

The Grand Cherokee L is fronted by slim L.E.D. headlights that bracket a low-profile variant of the traditional, seven-segment, grille atop a massive lower air intake. The grille tilts forward as it rises to the hood, adding a little retro flair to the front end. The side profile bears a resemblance to the Volvo XC90, with a longer third window. Much of the new Jeep is fashioned from high-strength steel; the hood and tailgate are aluminum.  

FCA photo

The sumptuous cabin of the Grand Cherokee L is a tastefully conservative design

Two familiar FCA engines, the 3.6L-V6 and a 5.7L-V8, return. Jeep has announced the 4xe, a plug-in hybrid version of the new Jeep, that pairs a turbocharged 2L turbo four with an electric motor to produce 375 horsepower and a robust 470 lb-ft. of torque. The 17 kWh, lithium-ion-manganese- cobalt battery pack is liquid cooled, ensuring consistent thermal management and performance. FCA estimates a 40 kilometre range in all-electric mode. A plug-in hybrid powertrain is still fairly unique in this class of vehicle. All engines are hooked to a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission.

Like its predecessor, the new-generation Grand Cherokee uses a unibody platform. Three all-wheel drive systems are available. i) The single-range Quadra-Trac I, ii) Quadra-Trac II, which adds a dual-range transfer case that can send torque to the axle with the most traction, and iii) Quadra-Drive II, which can direct torque to the individual wheels with the most traction. Selec-Terrain, with five drive modes, Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow and Mud/Sand, is standard, with Hill Descent control standard on the premium-priced Overland and Summit trims. Suspension is fully-independent front and rear, with premium models featuring Quadra-Lift air suspension with variable ride heights. The Normal ride height (NRH) is 210 mm, Off-road 1 mode adds 40 mm, and Off-Road II is 61 mm higher than Normal. Aero Mode lowers the truck by 21 mm for highway driving, and Park Mode is lower than Normal for easier access. Towing capacity is 2812 kilograms (4,500 pounds) with the V6, and 3262 kilograms (5,300 pounds) with the V8.

Active Driving Assist is a hands-on-the-wheel, Level 2 driving assist system that features lane-centering and active cruise control. Hands-Free Active Driving Assist, is planned for 2022. Also new is a night-vision camera that incorporates a head up display. Standard active safety features include forward collision warning for objects, pedestrians and cyclists, autonomous emergency braking, including in reverse, blind spot, rear cross traffic and lane departure warnings, as well as a lane-keeping system.

The new Grand Cherokee L should arrive in spring 2021. Jeep's recent new models have been reliability disasters at launch. Your best bet would be to wait at least until the next model year for the bugs to be resolved.