NEW YORK – Asia’s two leading automakers, Hyundai and Toyota, bid for bigger shares of the flourishing CUV market with their recent announcements of a third-generation Tucson and facelifted RAV4.

The Tucson, due in dealer showrooms in late June, is the third in Hyundai’s CUV lineup following the Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport.

Mike O’Brien, Hyundai Motor America vice president-corporate and product planning, predicts 50% higher sales of the new Tucson than the outgoing model. He believes the new CUV will help Hyundai’s overall share of the U.S. market reach 5%. The brand’s 2014 share was 4.4%.

Tucson sales totaled 47,306 units in 2014 and 11,127 in this year’s first quarter, the latter down 8.2% from year-ago, WardsAuto data shows.

Interviewed at this month’s New York International Auto Show, O’Brien tells WardsAuto CUVs “have had just monstrous growth. We’ve seen at Honda, for example, crossover vehicles replacing the Civic and Accord as their mainstay products.

“Customers now look at crossover vehicles as a good alternative to passenger cars.”

Fuel economy in the new-generation Tucson is improved 5 mpg (2.2 km/L) mainly through powertrain improvements. But O’Brien dismisses the notion that low fuel prices are driving growth in the CUV segment.

“Fuel prices are one factor,” he says, “but so are (the) higher seating position, extra utility and so on and so forth.”