After three days and 1000kms in a Hyundai Tucson ActiveX this week, it's easy to understand this market success.
The car was brand new, and I was the first hire. It was head and shoulders above what they usually give me - the stodgy but comfy Outlander.
The ActiveX is actually a bit of a curate's egg. the good parts are the interior fit-out, the standard kit, and the user friendly nature of most of the equipment (except the Bluetooth - but more about that later). It is also a very refined vehicle in terms of ride, noise control and driver comfort.
These last features put it a cut above the Outlander and X Trail. I can't compare it with a Mazda CX-5, as I've never driven one.
It also drives and handles very competently.
The not-so good bits are the engine, which needs to be revved to get the most out of it, and a wheel tyre combination included for appearance rather than practicality.
The ActiveX spec comes with front-wheel drive, six-speed auto and is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 121Kw of power and 203Nm of torque.
The front wheel drive bit is funny, as AVIS contracts to provide four wheel drive vehicles for the routes I travel. Maybe this one just slipped through.....
You can buy a diesel with four wheel drive, but that moves well into thirty grand plus territory. There's also a turbo charged 1.6 litre available. Maybe that version has the torque lacting in the ActiveX.
Don't get me wrong. The 2 litre does get up and boogie on demand, but it is a long way from effortless. I saw 5500rpm overtaking a road train.
Sometimes it's the little things that count. The extension on the sun visor is just the thing when heading west with a northern sun belting on your face.
The Hyundai Santa Fe has the same feature. I've driven plenty of these in the past, and the road feel was similar. The Santa Fes have a grunty diesel. Based on my experiences with Santa Fes and this Tucson, I'd go for the diesel if I was buying one.
As for the Bluetooth - it worked fine except that the phone had to be paired every time I started the car - a nuisance, to say the least.
And the low profile rubber might look great, but it is out of place on a vehicle that has pretensions to handle gravel roads. Don't even think about off-road...
In summary, this is a very competent, comfortable and user friendly vehicle. Expect to see lots of them on the road.