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THE HYUNDAI STARGAZER X

 

 

 

The Hyundai Stargazer X, and indeed the original Hyundai Stargazer, had a bit of a challenging position. It came into a market that had its previous big brother as a stalwart icon. The old Starex was a default choice and new vehicles like the Staria and the Custin made levels of comfort and a premium feel accessible more than ever.

So it is perhaps because of those successes that the Stargazer X had to work harder. Going into a pretty fiercely competitive segment as a compact MPV, it had things stacked against it. Many were actually predisposed to dislike it. It may have been thought of more as a very capable people mover, which it was.

Except.

It is a really nice fit for just about everything. And people seem to really like it.

It is hugely flexible in terms of what you want to use it for, just the right size for most about-town crowded-streets tight-parking work but smooth and relaxed on the highway. In terms of utility, seats folded up or down or flat enough that we could load far more than expected for what looked like a small body. There are areas for storage all over, but well-designed for space. The wireless charging pad for phones is sideways, and at first that bothers you. But then you realize you shouldn’t be looking at it anyway and it means more space elsewhere. Plus, the phone synced up pretty easily anyway with Apple CarPlay. There is a small tray for the backseat right passenger, not huge so probably not a work table for your computer (iPad works, I tried), but usable for other things.

Yet, it was exactly this small body and the proper attention to how a driver saw outwards, that made this such an easy vehicle to maneuver, park and drive, a 1.5-liter engine uses an IVT transmission to smoothly put power down, not high-performance or anything but more meant for smoothness.

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Safety systems are as expected with ABS and airbags and such, but also include a forward collision-avoidance assist system that should warn you, then apply brakes if there’s a problem. Lane-following Assist helps keep you on the right track. A Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist system will light up an indicator on the rear view mirror if something approaches, particularly useful for the sadly increasing amounts of motorcycles that don’t understand physics and motion.

What was most telling for the Stargazer X was really the reaction or people who own it. When I ask about how they like the car, they usually beam. Comments are on the ease of use, how it fits so well into their family needs, kind of a people mover plus. It just feels so nice to use, they say.

It is quite interesting to see, in our market where going hybrid helps you avoid the rules that negate efficiency for a fifth of the work week, how people choose non-hybrid cars and why. The hybrid choice is now mainly for convenience and the ability to use your property as you should. Choosing something else now means that you really see something that you want.