Hyundai's Global Crossover Range Is Bewildering And Numerous, So Let's Make Sense Of It

Kona, Venue, Creta, Bayon, Tucson. Depending on where you live, you can buy some of these, but not all.

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Leaked images of a facelifted Hyundai Creta — one of the automaker’s many compact crossovers — began making the rounds today. If the Creta name is unfamiliar to you, there’s good reason for that. You won’t find that nameplate on the lot of an American Hyundai dealer. Rather, the Creta is sold in Mexico, Brazil, India and Russia, among other markets.

Oh sure — the Creta shares a family resemblance with the snub-nosed Venue, the smallest SUV Hyundai offers in the U.S. But they’re built on different platforms: the Creta uses the same SUV-B architecture as the U.S. Kia Seltos, which also shares those underpinnings with the Kona. Meanwhile, the Venue is built on Hyundai’s K2 plan, like the Bayon in Europe. And the Seltos too, but only in certain countries.

Why am I bringing this up? Because it’s a complete mess.

Yes, I know Hyundai isn’t the only carmaker that sells similar-but-not-quite-identical versions of vehicles in a multitude of markets. But the company’s compact SUV range is especially dizzying — the stuff of those clever infographics with overlapping circles, one of which I’d try to make if I wasn’t already writing this. I’d have asked our top graphicist Torch, but he was working on an article about the Ioniq 5's nifty lighting at the time I was doing this one. These are in addition to the thing about the Hyundai restomod I wrote this morning. There’s sure been a lot of Hyundai on Jalopnik dot com on this Tuesday, for whatever reason.

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But anyway, here’s Hyundai’s crossover and SUV lineup for the U.S. in case you need a refresher. In the interest of keeping things as trim as possible, I cut the list off after the Tucson. If I hadn’t, we’d see a Tucson hybrid and plug-in hybrid, much like the trio of Konas. Brevity is not Hyundai’s strong suit.

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Since we already mentioned the Creta being available in Mexico, here’s the entirety of Mexico’s SUV roster. And this really is the whole thing at the time of writing — no Venue, no Kona, no Palisade.

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Now let’s hop across the pond to the U.K., where you can buy a Kona and Tucson, but not a Venue. Instead, you can get something called a Bayon, which Hyundai U.K. technically classifies as a hatchback. It has a cool dashboard and can be ordered with a manual. It’s these good qualities that, I assume, forbid Hyundai from selling it to Americans. Oh, and as for the Nexo, that’s a weird hydrogen fuel-cell thing. I wasn’t going to count that, but you can if you want; it shares a basis with the Tucson, we get it in the States too, and it starts at $58,000.

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Now for China, which is worth a look because it’s, you know, China. Please excuse Google Translate re-christening the Tucson as the “TOSSING L.” The Shengda and Ansino are similar butcherings of the Santa Fe and Kona, respectively, but I’m more interested in the ix25 and ix35. The former is actually the Creta, while the latter is an entirely different thing exclusively made for China. You see, the ix35 used to be the global name used for the Tucson, until Hyundai decided to spin them off into separate models exclusively for that part of the world.

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If we dig a little deeper, we find that the ix25 and Creta aren’t exactly the same, as their interiors sport very different dashboard designs for some reason. The ix25 of China certainly looks more upscale.

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Finally, we can’t end this globetrotting tour without paying a visit to Hyundai’s domestic market. The selection of SUVs on offer from the brand in South Korea is actually closest to what we have in the U.S. There’s the Venue, Kona, Tucson, Santa Fe and Palisade. But there’s also one more crossover Hyundai won’t sell us — my favorite of the lot, with the coolest interior. The $12,000 Casper.

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In each region you’ll find a slightly different mix of Hyundai’s many SUVs. India, for example, sells both the Venue and the Creta, which seems redundant; there Hyundai also offers a lengthened Creta with third-row seating called the Alcazar, but also retains the Tucson. The Alcazar is actually due for Mexico soon, where it’ll be badged the Creta Grand.

I’m sure that there’s a good reason for all this, that if you asked Hyundai’s bean counters they’d rattle off some very persuasive arguments about optimizing the manufacturer’s product range for the various market in which it plays. When you’ve got the scale to make what’s essentially the same SUV four different ways, and can squeeze every last cent by doing so, why wouldn’t you?

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Nothing about this practice is unusual, just neat to us car nerds. When I travel overseas, every taxi ride to and from the airport on ordinary highways is a car-spotting expedition of the most thrilling order. I love that minor amusement of seeing a riff on a car you recognize from home, done up just a little differently for customers elsewhere. The humble Civic tends to be a source of fascination for me when I travel — especially the older generations where Honda created completely unique cars for each territory. I hope this little exploration of Hyundai’s countless SUVs sparked a bit of that delight; I also hope the company reconsiders not selling the Casper in a place where I can drive one.