Vehicle Review: Arizona Calling

By Howard Keeg

I am writing this article a bit prematurely, because I am scheduled to do a road test on the Hyundai Tucson late in October 2023, but as it will arrive just a teeny bit late to meet our publication deadline, I thought it would be a good idea to give a little history lesson on this South Korean beauty, as I want it to make the mag. And thanks to Wikipedia for the information

The Hyundai Tucson has been around since 2004, and is defined as a compact crossover SUV, positioned below the Santa Fe, and above the Kona and Creta. Clearly aimed at the American market, it is named after the city of Tucson, Arizona. It was also marketed for some time as the Hyundai ix35 in several markets, including Europe, Australia and China. It is the best-selling Hyundai SUV model, with more than seven million units sold globally since it launched in 2004.

The Tucson is also very popular in South Africa, as the Hyundai brand has gone from strength to strength since its introduction to our shores in the 1990’s. The 2023 Tucson N Line is one of the strongest SUV models in SA, and its distinctive profile is easily identifiable on our roads. Its combination of style, performance, and good fuel consumption, makes it a hit with Mzansi’s mobility folk, and the tech features add to the allure. Pricing is not too bad, considering the weak Rand, with the premium Hyundai Tucson 2.0D AWD N Line retailing at R799 900. For this, you get the car, plus a 7-year/200 000 km warranty (a 5-year/150 000 km manufacturer’s warranty with an additional 2-year/50 000 km manufacturer’s powertrain warranty), as well as a 6-year/90 000 km service plan. Seven years/150 000 km of roadside assistance is included.

Since I have hadn’t had the pleasure of actually driving the vehicle, I give you a verdict from David Taylor, an experienced and well-respected motoring journalist, “It’s easy to see why the (now discontinued) previous-gen Tucson 1.6T Elite Sport proved so popular in South Africa… It looked distinctively sporty in comparison with its standard siblings and boasted a notable power boost. However, its droning exhaust and polarising looks were an acquired taste. The Hyundai Tucson N Line may lack the performance punch of its locally-developed predecessor, but the sensible turbodiesel powertrain combined with all-wheel drive makes it a more sophisticated – and sensible – proposition. Granted, by and large, the flagship derivative trades on its bold kerb presence, but if the Korean marque hopes to pinch sales from premium brands’ compact crossovers (it does not have many rivals in its own segment), it needs to be refined, well specified and distinctive – which it is. Should you buy one? Forget about the N Line’s sporty image for a second (if that’s at all possible) – if you’re looking for a well-equipped and all-terrain-capable family SUV with a tremendous warranty that performs willingly and excellent fuel consumption, why wouldn’t you consider the flagship Tucson?”

Finally, my little chirp, which is less motoring in action, and more words in action. Most people pronounce Tucson correctly (too-son), but some get it wrong, pronouncing it phonetically. I can live with it, not that I enjoy it, as I do come from a country with the worst pronouncers on the planet. Not surprising, when you consider that American president Bill Clinton was introduced in our parliament in the 1990’s as the former governor of Arkansas (pronounced as ah-kan-sas), by someone who should have done his homework. And even worse, we have a talk show host on Radio 702, who boasts that he got his job because of his ability, but who manages to mangle so many words. Vehicle, category, and adolescent, are the bog standard mispronounced words, but he takes it to a new level when he gets hold of words such as fuel (I always wonder why he is fascinated by the price of birds), salvageable, and others. But his crowning glory was when he spoke about politicians feeding at the through. It took me a while to realise that he was talking about a trough. Tut, tut. Or should I say tuc, tuc.