Hyundai will launch its Tucson rival for the Land Rover Freelander, Suzuki Vitara (aka Chevrolet Tracker), Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V worldwide later this year.

The Tucson, unveiled at the Chicago motor show, begins its global roll-out with launches in South Korea and North America.

Engine options include 2.7-litre V6 and two-litre, four-cylinder petrol engines plus a two-litre diesel.

The five door-only SUV is slightly larger than its rivals but smaller and more conventional looking than the oddly styled and bulbous Santa Fe on which Hyundai cut its sport utility teeth.

The Tucson uses an electronic torque management four-wheel-drive system that routes up to 99% of the available power to the front wheels. As driving conditions change, the system automatically diverts up to 50% of the power to the rear. There is also a dashboard-mounted 4WD lock button.

The company is keen to expand its presence in the burgeoning sport utility market. Hyundai design chief Jong-Suh Park said the Tucson, along with the Santa Fe and Terracan, will be joined by another larger, luxury 4×4 within the next two years.

Park said there are currently no plans for a three-door version although sister company KIA will have its own knock-off ready next year.

Hyundai plans to show a ‘concept’ of a new family car claimed to be designed specifically for the European market at next month’s Geneva motor show.