On-track safety: Defensive driving in our Hyundai Tucson long-termer
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While the rest of the DRIVEN team used our long-term Hyundai Tucson for daily duties, my time behind the wheel was very different. This is because the Tucson was my weapon of choice when I completed Downforce Auto Events’ Level One Driver Training course at Hampton Downs.
When you look at the Tucson, you would be forgiven for assuming that it is much more at home completing the school pickup run rather than on the track. But there weren’t any break-neck speeds achieved during my time with the Tucson, instead, Downforce uses the track to create a closed-road environment where young drivers can find the limits of their vehicles without putting themselves or others in danger.
So while Coast’s Jase Reeves and DRIVEN’s Editor Dean Evans were busy testing how many car seats they could fit across the back seat, I got the chance to test the car’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and ABS systems on the track.
Full disclosure, the Tucson felt a little out of place on the Young Drivers course, due to the fact that most first cars aren’t SUVs. If anything, this gave me an advantage over the Corollas and Swifts as the Hyundai comes with the latest driving safety tech.
Tasks such as the slalom and the distracted driving course were completed with ease, but the high-riding nature of the Tucson became clear when attempting the ABS and ESC activities. Here, the driver gets up to around 70km/h before a light indicates which lane to swerve into while fully on the brakes. It is meant to create the scenario of a child running out in front of the vehicle, leaving the driver just milliseconds to react and stop.
Despite the Tucson’s high-riding nature, it remained extremely composed under heavy braking, and managed to come to a complete stop within the coned-off area. For context, I would’ve liked to experience the same test in a car without ESC, but I was still immensely impressed with how the Tucson took the activity in its stride, and how I was able to drive it home that afternoon without missing a beat.
So while Hyundai’s 2WD Tucson may not be at home on the track, or be a popular first car choice, it was an eye-opening experience that showed how much safety tech is packed into a standard family SUV in 2020. This lower-spec Tucson may not have all the bells and whistles that other SUVs have, but it offers superb safety at its price point of $45,990.