With record sales month after month, has been kicking butt and taking names lately in the North American market, thanks in large part to its all-new Elantra and Sonata. However, as phenomenal as both sedans are, it wouldn’t be fair for them to take all the credit — spend a week behind the wheel of the slightly older but similarly-redone Hyundai Tucson compact crossover and one could have foreseen the rise of Korean automaker months before either model launched.
It has been several years since the latest Tucson went on sale; even so, the 2012 Tucson Limited AWD we had at our disposal painted a good picture of why Hyundai has been doing so well. It features attractive styling inside and out, a very competent powertrain and unprecedented value. At a Canadian price of $32,349 (priced at $27,320 in the U.S.), it was loaded with many features, including power heated outside mirrors, panoramic sunroof, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, steering wheel audio controls, front heated Seats, leather seating surfaces, AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3/Aux/USB Stereo with 6 speakers and, suggestively, an all-wheel drive setup..
Let’s begin with the exterior. Those fluid lines, contours and curvatures you see on the latest Elantra and Sonata, all part of Hyundai’s evolved “fluidic sculpture” design language? The Tucson adopted them first. Just imagine a crossover version of the attractive Elantra and the Tucson is what you will likely get. But as attractive as the small crossover is, it’s not perfect. Up close, its looks top notch with its sweeping coupe-like lines; from afar, it looks a tad bit too short and pinched from the side. Or am I seeing thing?
Fortunately, the pinched look is only an illusion. Step inside the Tucson and you are greeted with a roomy interior. Compared to a compact sedan like the Chevrolet Cruze, it almost seems cavernous. Push the front seats back enough for 6′ 2″ passengers and there is enough leg room in the back for 5’10” passengers. Open the cargo hatch and you are immediately reminded why crossovers are so popular. Luggage space behind the second row seats is 25.7 cubic feet, while folding the seats down increases that figure to 55.8 cubic feet. Not the roomiest in the class—the CRV probably takes the cake in that regard—but very respectable, nonetheless.
The rest of the interior does a good job at mimicking the exterior, styling-wise. A nicely-designed dashboard and centre console, in addition to aluminum accents on the steering wheel and air vents add some flair to an aesthetically-pleasing, functional and cohesive cockpit. The plastics could be hard to the touch, but why would you want to touch them, at least on a regular basis? What really matters is that soft-touch materials can be found in the areas that you interact with the most, while the lower-quality materials in the other areas do a very good job at, well, not looking low-quality. The overall build quality is good—there are no noticeable panel gaps or other examples of poor build quality.
The Tucson is attractive and spacious, but does it go? Our Limited AWD model was powered by Hyundai’s optional 2.4L I4 DOHC Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) engine, good for 176 horsepower and 168 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, acceleration was better than adequate; the ride was fairly smooth; and gear changes were seamless, both on the highway and in stop-and-go city driving. The engine never seemed to struggle, unless pushing really hard, and (as it should be with a crossover) steering was very mainstream car-like. While far from being a sports car, it did offer a bit of steering feedback, at least when compared to a certain compact sedan — the Toyota Corolla — but that’s not saying much.
On the fuel-economy front, the automatic-equipped Tucson Limited AWD promised 10.0L/100km in city driving and 7.1L/100km on the highway, for a combined 8.7L/100km. That’s right up there with the segment’s best. In mostly city driving, we achieved 9.5L/100km, which is very close to estimates.
With the 2012 Tucson, Hyundai is aiming squarely at the compact crossover segment’s big players — the Ford Escape, Honda CRV and Chevrolet Equinox. After speeding a week in one, we believe that the Korean automaker has delivered a compelling product. While the Limited AWD model we had wasn’t exactly budget-oriented, it is priced competitively once you consider the slew of added features. If you can do without the extra features, the base Tucson L model, which offers one of the best value propositions in the segment, is always there for the picking. Either way, with attractive styling inside and out, great on-road manners and class-competitive practicality, all trim levels provide the essentials that have made Hyundai the success it is today. Prospects of a compact crossover will be doing themselves a disfavor by not giving the latest Tucson a look.
Sikh Motorcyclists Can Soon Ride Without Helmets In Ontario
Canada’s largest province, Ontario, will become the fourth province in the country to allow Sikh motorcyclists to ride without helmets.
Male Sikhs wear turbans for religious purposes. In an August roundtable interview with the Sikh community in Brampton, ON, premier Doug Ford said “It’s going to be one of my agendas, I’ll move forward with it, I’m keeping my promise” when asked about exempting male Sikhs.”
“Promises made, promises kept,” he added.
Alberta became the third province to exempt Sikh riders from helmets in March 2018, following in the footsteps of British Columbia and Manitoba. Bills regarding the matter were introduced in Ontario as far back as 2013 but were shot down and failed to pass.
The helmet law as it pertains to Sikhs was first challenged in Ontario in 2008, when the Ontario Human Rights Commission took up the cause of Baljinder Badesha, who was fighting a $110 ticket for refusing to wear his motorcycle helmet.
Ontario Court Justice James Blacklock ended up ruling against Badesha and the OHRC. In his 35-page decision, he stated that an exemption would render the province’s helmet law unwieldy since anyone violating it could simply claim they were devout, a , if you ask me, even when not considering for the safety implications.
Let us know, is it fair for only Sikh motorcyclists to be exempt from the helmet law, and is there a solid argument for the exemption? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Credit: Surjit Singh Flora
Canadians Build World’s Fastest Hot Tub
Canada isn’t known for brash accomplishments, but two engineers lit a big spotlight on the introverted country when they took a 1999 Cadillac DeVille and built it into the world’s fastest hot tub.
Why anyone would want to build the fastest hot tub is beyond me, but what Phillip Weicker and Ducan Forster managed to achieved is quite the accomplishment. Before we delve into how they were able to do what they did, let’s look back at how it all started.
Time travel to 1996, when the two gearheads were engineering students at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Presumably after drinking a lot of Molson beer, they became inspired by the famous Ernest Hemingway quote: “Always do sober what you say you’d do when intoxicated.” Empowered by those strong, motivating words, they planned the impossible.
Weicker and Forster took an abandoned car left on their campus (a 1982 Chevrolet Malibu) and — you guessed it — turned it into a hot tub. More specifically, a fully-operational and fully-drivable, hot tub…
Fast forward several years after that ‘little’ project and the duo have landed jobs as professional engineers. And as often is the case with those born with an insatiable creative urge, the desire to go “bigger and faster” reared its head, and bigger and faster they went…
“The Carpool Deville” project they began involved purchasing an $800 1999 Cadillac DeVille and then gutting it. Its interior was removed and an elaborate, custom fiberglass tub was installed.
For driving, a marine-style steering wheel, a gauge cluster, and throttle controls were fitted, while the 427-cubic inch V8 was rebuilt to not only propel the DeVille to speeds of over 50 mph, but also to heat the pool water to a balmy 102 degrees.
Since completing the Carpool DeVille in 1999, Phillip Weicker and Ducan Forster have become minor celebrities and emblematic of what can happen when you think creatively. Those who said that “a 50+ MPH hot tub was just a dream and could never be created” didn’t know what they were talking about. Let’s face it, the two persistent Canadian engineers have made automotive history. OK, sort of…
Hot Wheels Launches Track Builder Challenge in Canada
Thinking about the future of our young children, Hot Wheels Canada has launched a Track Builder Challenge to encourage their learning and creativity. The cross-national challenge will take place over a six-month period throughout the spring and summer of 2014.
As part of its launch, an interactive track exhibit featuring the Canada’s first Ultimate Track will be shown at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) from March 8 to 16 during the Gallery’s March Break drop-in program. The Ultimate Track is built by a team of ‘Track Experts’ and is comprised of over 1000 pieces of track and connector, and stretches over 625ft.
“The exhibit at the AGO is the perfect benchmark for this program, as the house inspired set educates both parents and kids on the endless track building possibilities using the surfaces they have at home,” said Michael Ng, Brand Manager, Mattel Inc.
In addition to the exhibit, Hot Wheels’ website will house a nationwide Hot Wheels Track Builder Challenge contest that will allow kids to learn from the aforementioned Track Experts. It will also give them the opportunity to submit their best Hot Wheels tracks for a chance to win a custom built track in their home, and a Track Party hosted by Hot Wheels.
After its display at the AGO, the Hot Wheels Track Builder Exhibit will make its way to other Canadian locations. Entries for the contest will be open until August 31st, 2014, and the grand prize winner will be announced in September. Those interested should visit .