I recently decided that I needed a second car – one to get me to work and back without fuss, and maybe tow a trailer on the occasional weekend. My trusty 1998 Ford NL Fairlane received early retirement after an altercation with a tree some months earlier.
I set about the fun, sorry, I mean frustrating chore of car hunting. Scrolling through online ads, searching endlessly on Gumtree and Carsales to find something, anything, that would fit the bill. I was beginning to think it was mission impossible, and then suddenly there was a glimmer of hope.
I spied a front-runner, a 2005 Hyundai Tucson Elite, in a rather fetching shade of a sparkling mid-blue colour. I had looked at these when new but never took the plunge, which is quite regrettable in hindsight. It looked, well, great in the photos, but as we know photos can fool. So I called the seller, popped over one day after work to take a look and bought it after a brief test drive. Deal done!
Firstly let me say, those who talk of Korean carmakers (such as Hyundai) as being cheap and unremarkable should think again. My Tucson has just clicked over 303,000km and runs like a dream. It doesn't seem to have had any problems during its previous 11 years of ownership. It came with original purchase receipts and a host of other documents as well as a full service history.
The engine starts instantly every time, runs as smoothly as the day it was made, never uses any oil or makes any noises. The same can be said about the entire car that, although it is not brand new, has certainly been loved and well looked after. The car is comfortable to drive, has a host of convenient features such as cruise control, sunroof and selectable 4WD, is easy to get in and out of, (not that I'm old, but hey, I'm not getting any younger) and the air-conditioning is like ice.
Inside and out, it has proven its quality with shiny and sparkling metallic paint and a beige cloth trim that is like new. At first acquaintance, things look a little sparse inside. There don't seem to be many shiny buttons or knobs to any degree. However, once acclimatised to the interior, you learn that nothing is missing at all. In fact, it just comes down to good design and control placement, but everything is there, just not cluttered, confronting, or 'in your face' like some makes.
The only downfall is the fuel consumption, which is a little high, but hey, this is a 2.7-litre V6 engine hauling around a 1600kg body with four-speed auto. That is a small price to pay really. I paid less than one-tenth of the original purchase price for the car, so I'm in front regardless.
In all, this is an impressive SUV for a second hand, 12-year-old car. It has proven that while a badge might make heads turn, a good reputation, good quality and design integrity will turn the tide.