Hyundai has a soft spot for Detroit, with the automaker's technical center in nearby Superior Township. For the Detroit auto show, the Korean automaker was expected to debut the next-generation Tucson compact crossover. While last year's Los Angeles Auto Show — held near Hyundai's Orange County headquarters — only got the Vision T concept on which the Tucson is based, Detroit was expected to get the global reveal of the real deal.
Hyundai has big plans for the Tucson. Not just to make a bigger play in the packed compact crossover segment against sales leaders such as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, but also to match those two rivals with a hybrid version and perhaps to outdo them with a sporty N-Line version of the Tucson with more horsepower.
And with the brand's steady rollout of more sporty vehicles in general, Detroit also could have become a showcase for its performance products. Hyundai has a coming N-Line Sonata, which was shown to journalists this year wearing camo wrap. The brand also has a track-ready Veloster N variant with a new dual-clutch transmission. Both of those are expected to go on sale in the fall.
The debut of the next-generation Elantra, scheduled for Los Angeles in March, had to be a virtual presentation. Hyundai may have to do the same for the Tucson, which would be unfortunate. The brand has been stressing its new styling chops, and virtual presentations don't do the new designs justice.