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Embarking on the ‘Hyundai Driving Adventure’ with the Stargazer X

A leisurely, overnight trip to Clark

Dragon Red Pearl complements the two-tone cladding nicely. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Among the sea of seven-seater MPVs, we think nothing stands out as obviously as the Hyundai Stargazer with its futuristic design. But if you want something that looks more rugged without being over-the-top, there’s the Stargazer X.

To allow the motoring media to experience one of its latest models, Hyundai Motor Philippines held the first Hyundai Driving Adventure” of the year. The point wasn’t to test the technical performance of the vehicle, but to enjoy a chill overnight getaway to Clark with the Stargazer X.

The X doesn’t look significantly different from the standard Stargazer. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

The Hyundai Stargazer X is powered by a 1.5-liter gasoline engine that produces 113hp and 143.8Nm. Compared to the normal Stargazer, the X has new bumpers, black-and-gray cladding, a larger spoiler, 17-inch wheels, and a piano-black shroud on the dashboard. Being the top-of-the-line variant, it also has Hyundai SmartSense’s suite of safety features.

The first time I heard of the Stargazer X, I cringed at the idea of trying to make a sci-fi-inspired MPV look like an SUV. But after seeing it for myself, I was pleasantly surprised with the moderate changes. The front grille isn’t a trypophobia-inducing nightmare (unlike some Chinese cars). And I’m glad that the garnish is gray, instead of something like chrome.

You wouldn’t want to sit in the third row for long. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Starting from Chino Roces Avenue in Makati, the convoy passed through Osmeña Highway to get to Skyway and then to NLEX. This allowed me to get a taste of city driving before heading to the expressway. Despite its size, the vehicle wasn’t difficult to maneuver around tight streets. The steering was light without being numb; the throttle response wasn’t jarring; and the brakes were smooth.

The auto hold feature was a lifesaver in standstill traffic, as it spared me the hassle of having to hold the brakes or shift to Neutral. Once I was on Skyway, I gave the cruise control a try, but it wasn’t particularly helpful because it wasn’t adaptive. Since I had to override it frequently, I just left it off so I could enjoy the drive.

Although the digital instrument cluster was uncluttered, the absence of analog gauges made reading the speedometer and the tachometer more difficult. Thankfully, the air-conditioning was controlled physically with knobs. The cockpit was clean with the only thing out of place being the drive-mode button, which would have been better off on the steering wheel.

The drive-mode button is hard to press when your eyes are focused on the road. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

When it was my turn to be a passenger, I didn’t have any complaints as I could unwind and relax with the ice-cold air-conditioning. Too bad the same can’t be said for the third-row seats. Although I can fit with my 5’7” frame, I wouldn’t want to be stuck there for long.

A memorable road trip isn’t complete without good music. The Stargazer X comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, navigating through the infotainment is a bit of a challenge with the amount of menu-digging needed. You’ll also have to be tech-savvy enough to know how to pair Bluetooth devices when connecting your phone.

There's nothing better than unwinding after a long drive. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Overall, the Stargazer X was a nice ride for an overnight trip to Clark. The car looks nice on the outside and is comfortable on the inside. It doesn’t have any mind-blowing tech or features, but that’s fine for a seven-seater MPV whose job is to be a practical people mover.

The Stargazer X costs P1,348,000, and its differences with the GLS Premium variant are essentially aesthetic in nature. However, there’s nothing wrong with spending a bit moreif it will put a bigger smile on your face.

If you’re looking for a vehicle for a weekend getaway with family or friends, the Hyundai Stargazer X is a good choice.

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.