Web Spin: Hyundai Terracan

Terracan? Yes 'e Can!

Test Vehicle: Hyundai Terracan CRDi Turbo Diesel 4WD

Terracan under test. Photo: Sandy Sharma

A Diesel Dark Horse

When you talk about the Hyundai Terracan (pronounced terra-KARN) amongst your dinner party guests, the most common response is likely to be; “Terra What?” Few would have seen it, even fewer driven in one. So far in 2005, Hyundai have sold just 500 of these vehicles, compared to the segment leader (Medium 4WD), the Ford Territory at over 3500 units.

Hyundai (pronounced he-un-DAY), the Korean industrial giant making everything from container ships and locomotives to mp3 players, has had a presence in the Australian retail landscape since 1986 when Alan Bond brought the first Excels here. That utilitarian little runabout made history in 1998 when it became the top selling car that June. Yes, it sold more units (8663) that month than either the Ford Falcon or Holden Commodore! So, from inauspicious beginnings, Hyundai have shown they can both make quality cars and sell them.

The Terracan was a watershed for Hyundai when the first incarnation, a 3.5 V6 petrol was launched here in November 2001. The bulky 4WD was the Korean giant’s first foray into the bigger 4WD market occupied by the well-established bully-brands like Toyota (Prado, Kluger), Nissan Pathfinder and Jeep Cherokee. In January this year Hyundai rolled the dice and introduced the Terracan CRDi 2.9l DOHC Turbo Diesel. CRDi stands for Common Rail Diesel Injection and is the current state-of-the-art in oil-fired engines. Gone are the days, claims Hyundai, of “the slow, smelly, smokey and sooty evils of old-tech oilers.”

Recent diesel fuel prices certainly aren’t working in Hyundai’s favour, but the really outstanding economy of the force-fed diesel is. Tough Government benchmark testing puts the Terracan’s fuel consumption at a smidge over 10 litres/100kms for both auto and manual models. But the CRDi returned 7.29 litres/100kms during a well-publicised economy rally in New Zealand late last year. Our own driving experience tends to back these claims as we drove it all the way to Bateman’s Bay, around and around, then back to Sydney without topping up. Drive it carefully on a long interstate trip and you may get a figure in the high 6s.

Not all the critics, however, are in harmony over the Terracan’s on-road performance. Certainly, it doesn’t share the nimble, near sports handling of Hyundai’s smaller, zippy Tucson or Sante Fe, but for a chunky ‘proper’ 4WD, it’s still acceptable if unremarkable. Our off-road tests were limited to a couple of steep climbs on loose surface and a twisty forest tour. Neither found the limits of the Terracan, but certainly exceeded the most common requests of urban-dwelling 4WDs. Off-the-shelf, the Terracan may not be ready for the Old Telegraph Track, but Hyundai do offer a locally developed, retrofit “Trek’n’Tow” package ($2000) that considerably lifts the off road and towing capability of the stock vehicle, When fitted, it lifts ground clearance by 20mm and boosts tow-ball load mass by 50kg to 250kg.

Styling of the Terracan has also created a certain amount of chin rubbing amongst the motoring press. Terms like “interesting”, “generic”, “dated” and even plain “ugly” have been used in reviews for this poor beast. Sure, it lacks the chic of the European heavy 4WDs like the Touareg, X5 and Cayenne, but is a damn sight smarter than some of the Asian 4WDs I can think of; Daewoo’s hideous Korando for one. Not too proud to take criticism, Hyundai have moved to re-style the Terracan with the latest models. Gone is the buck-toothed, slatted grille of yore, replaced by a more pleasing honeycomb one, along with smoother styling around the bumpers and taillights.

Inside, the Terracan packs seven seats and is replete with the mandatory retractable cup-holders and storage trays, map pockets and electric do-dads. In seven-seat mode, luggage capacity is restricted to what you can put on the roof or carry on your lap, so Mr and Mrs Brady should look to larger vehicles (or a trailer) for family holidays. In five-seat mode, luggage space is recovered but is still limited by the spare wheel stowed under the rear tray – a trade-off for the extra rear-view vision it affords.

For all its worth, the Terracan, in either petrol or diesel, isn’t about to wipe Ford, Toyota or Nissan off the map, yet it raises the bar in diesel engine technology and performance that will need to be countered by the big brands to stay ahead.

Price Comparisons: (AU$)

Ford Territory starts at $38,990
Toyota Kluger starts at $43,990
Mitsubishi Pajero starts at $47,490
Nissan Pathfinder starts at $41,490
Hyundai Terracan V6 starts at $34,990 (CRDi $37,490)

Factory Specifications (Diesel)

Drive train arrangement Longitudinal front mounted driving front and rear wheels
Engine capacity 2.9 litres (2902 cc)
Number of cylinders 4 in-line Configuration
Valve system Double overhead cam
Max power 120 kW @ 3800 rpm
Max torque 345 Nm @ 1750-3000 rpm
Fuel system Common Rail electronically-controlled Direct injection (CRDi), turbo charged with air-to-air intercooler
Bore x stroke 97.1 mm x 98.0 mm
Compression ratio 19:3

Report by Rod Eime. Photos: Sandy Sharma, Hyundai Australia

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buy a used or new hyundai terracan from a fctory dealer in great condition. It's a four wheel drive or 4wd for use off road or in the outback.