Camping with the Hyundai Tucson
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The summer camping ritual brings with it plenty of gear. But it's all manageable when you have a worthy packhorse like the Hyundai Tucson at your disposal.
When summer finally remembers to turn up (more often than not, once everyone is back at work these days), it remains a magical season. And for many, a spot of camping beside the sea is an essential component of the warmest months; something that planning for begins back in about September.
Camping appeals to gearheads in a particular way. In my experience, it's not uncommon to angst over a necessity or a way in which to set up the campsite for maximum efficiency, only to walk past a fellow camper's impressive set-up half an hour after arriving and perform the slow shake of the head that denotes "I wish I'd thought of that".
More than gas cookers, shelters and air mattresses, the vehicle you elect to take camping will have a big impact on two vital parts of the process; getting everything to your campground of choice and getting everything home again.
If you're taking a boat or hauling a caravan (cheat!), your decision will revolve primarily around pulling power.
I tow neither, but fervently believe that when it comes to camping with kids, bikes maketh the holiday. These essential items are awkward to store efficiently among all the other family detritus though, and with the family trailer out of action (it's WOF expired when?), a towbar-mounted bike rack was the only real option.
With no gigantic trailer to tow, a mid-sized wagon or SUV was just the ticket. Hyundai's Tucson is a model I've sampled only briefly, around the time of its launch in 2015, so I was keen to see how the revitalised medium offering fares 18 months on.
Hyundai reckons the twin-scroll turbo-armed Tucson 1.6T GDi AWD Limited will tow its fair share of trailer-packed treats (it has a 1600kg braked towing capacity, 750kg unbraked). The amount of stuff requiring transport to a sublime campsite in Northland would have stretched this to its maximum, I imagine.
However, the Tucson is a peppy performer, offering 130kW of power and 265Nm peak torque if asked; the bigger 2.0-litre R-Series engine in the turbo diesel-powered Tucson CRDi AWD Diesel boosts available torque to 400Nm, giving you more pulling power at the top end of the spectrum.
Our petrol Tucson was sprightly on the road though, even with its 488-litre boot packed to capacity and a full complement of five on board, the kids' feet nestled atop sleeping bags, duvets and bags of food.
It wasn't quite an "everything but the kitchen sink" scenario but we did have the fridge -- well, a gas-powered mini-fridge.
Food items kept cool all the way to the campsite thanks to the handy 12V socket in the Tucson's boot, into which we plugged the fridge while we still had the luxury of electricity.
We've been to this camping spot several times but, for the sake of evaluation, Hyundai's satellite navigation system was a breeze to use. It remains one of the simplest and most logical on the market to input address information into. The touchscreen doesn't shut down while you're driving either, as some do, allowing the front seat passenger to safely take care of navigational duties while the driver presses ahead.
Hyundai's GPS system also features SUNA real-time traffic updates, that give you information on congestion ahead (essential when escaping the city during a long summer weekend) and offers alternative route suggestions if things have ground to a halt.
There was the usual "Are we there yet?" sing-song from the three pint-sized tag-alongs in the rear seat, but that had nothing to do with any lack of comfort.
Despite being a mid-sizer (the popular Santa Fe remains Hyundai's large SUV), the Tucson has space for all. Not that the boot-load behind afforded the option, but you can even recline the rear seats slightly in their 60:40 split format for extra comfort.
The Limited grade gave us leather seats (electronically adjustable for both front chairs), privacy glass to keep the sun's glare out, and an uprated LCD instrument screen.
All Tucsons arrive with plenty of standard safety gear including LED Daytime Running Lights, ABS braking, Hillstart Assist, Downhill Brake Control, Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Management software to help keep you on the straight and narrow.
Being a top-shelf model, our tester also featured extras such as a Rear Cross Traffic Alert system, Blindspot Detection and an Autonomous Emergency Braking system to help avoid low-speed rear-enders.
A reversing camera is standard with every Tucson; something I became grateful for whenever manoeuvring around a child/bike/sports equipment-strewn campsite.
The first ritual of camping after arrival is the slow realisation of what you've mistakenly left at home. Last year it was our pillows, which caused no amount of consternation. This year? Our laundry rack, always handy for drying togs and towels between morning and afternoon swims.
I can solemnly report though, that the Tucson's wing mirrors are perfect for hanging beach towels on. Problem solved.