Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Junk in the trunk

If you are from a city in the western United States whose name people identify with the outdoors, sports, nature, speed, or fun, you expect, sooner or later, your hometown's name will be co-opted by a car manufacturer. Your only hope is that, when that happens, the car will be a pretty good one, bringing pride upon your city's good name. How about a sporty german roadster? Or a manly pickup truck that can yank a four-ton tree out of the ground and haul it thirty miles?

Or how about a little Korean mini-SUV that industry insiders refer to as a "cute ute?"

Enter the Hyundai Tucson. This thing brings something to the good name of my hometown, but I don't think it's pride.

Consumer Reports raves:
The Tucson is not very agile. The ride is reasonably comfortable, but suspension noise is pronounced.

Automobile Magazine gushes:
[D]espite its 173 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque, the Tucson's noisy 2.7-liter DOHC V-6 is anything but [noteworthy]. . . . Ride quality and body control are noteworthy only in relation to other Hyundais. The Tucson is certainly more willing to change direction than the Jell-O-legged Santa Fe, but it still feels a bit ponderous for such tidy dimensions, lacking the playful demeanor of its Japanese rivals.

Car and Driver is enthusiastic:
The Tucson certainly fits th[e "cute ute"] description, its stubby ends and flaring fenders imparting the appearance of a clumsy shar-pei puppy. Whether this is a good or bad thing, we don’t know—it’s a matter of personal taste. We do know that cute generally translates into “chick car,” so, like the roly-poly dog, the Tucson’s fetching façade is likely to garner more attention from women than men.

Rawr. Shar-pei.

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