We're a little more than halfway through our six-month road test of the 2012 Hyundai Veloster. So, what have we found? Great fuel economy and technology, and shortcomings with its visibility and rear seat, as you'll see here in our video road test.
No doubt, the Veloster's styling can be somewhat polarizing. The snub-nosed front end draws attention, but we think the strong sculpting down the sides and rear end make the car really stand out. So do the hatch's curved glass and a spoiler--while they also affect visibility.
Forward visibility is terrific thanks to relatively thin A-pillars, but the thick C-pillars hinder rearward visibility, and the seat belt hanger for the driver creates an even larger blind spot. We recommend $2,000 technology package which includes backup sensors and a backup camera as these two things make backing up much easier.
In the cabin, the Veloster's seats have lived up to their long-haul potential. They're comfortable both around town and supportive on long road trips. The bolsters keep you in place when zipping around a corner, but they aren't overly firm.
With the steep roofline and narrow door opening, getting into the rear seat is somewhat of a nightmare. Once you make it into the back seat, anyone over five foot six will find a lack of headroom and legroom.
Carrying cargo in the Veloster hasn't been the sacrifice we expected. We were able to fit enough luggage for two for a three-week road trip across the country using the rear cargo area and back seats. We were concerned about the sloping roofline hindering cargo capacity, and while it probably does, once packed, we were surprised how much we were able to fit inside.
On the performance front, we've noticed both the engine and transmission's behavior have changed as the car has sailed through the break-in period. The engine revs more freely and feels more lively under 30 mph. The Eco-Shift dual-clutch transmission has learned our driving style. At first, it always went for the top available gear at all times, but now it lets the engine wind out more and shifts at higher engine speeds. We have noticed the shift times haven't grown any quicker, and still feel too long, probably with the goal of keeping them smooth.
In our real-world testing, the Veloster has averaged around 32 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. If you're driving across a state with an 80-mph speed limit, you'll quickly find your fuel economy average dropping to about 30-32 mpg.. We took it on our fuel economy loop with varying terrain and some low-speed city stop-and-go traffic. The result? An impressive average of 41.4 mpg. So as you can see, it really does just come down to how you drive.
Let's recap: the fuel economy has improved and the powertrain seems to have learned our driving style. Visibility is still a daily issue, but the technology package helps matters. We may get tired of looking over our shoulder a lot, but we haven't gotten tired of the unique styling, or attention that comes with it--though we all agree the 2013 Veloster Turbo is a lot more interesting to drive.