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Hyundai Tucson on the Beach
Yesterday I took my '07 SE 4WD to Fort Fisher State Recreation Area in Kure Beach, NC. Here's my report:
Took the Tucson out to Fort Fisher State Recereation Area today. It is one of three places in South Eastern North Carolina that you can drive 4X4's on the beach - the other two are: north end of Carolina Beach and Surf City. I have seen the occassional Subaru and CRV out there. Had never noticed a Hyundai before. Judging by some of the looks I got from the guys in trucks, they have never seen one out there either.
How did it do? Well, it did... Great. No complaints. No "pucker factor." No problems.
Well, actually there was a small problem... As I began to make a u-turn from parallel to the ocean/dunes to park, the 4X4 idiot light came on. The Tucson stopped moving forward and began to try to bury its head in the sand. I stopped, cut the engine, restarted, pressed "4X4 LOCK" and crossed my fingers. I put the manu-matic in 2nd gear, pressed lightly on the gas was rewarded with the Tucson happily surging forward, being moved by all 4 wheels again. Whew. I carry a shovel and a tow rope, but if the 4X4 system had failed (less than 500 miles on the odo) I would have had to be pulled three miles in 1-2' (foot) deep sand
I pulled onto the access road and pulled to the side. Got out, let air out of the tires (forgot my gauge so don't know what I went down to) and got back in the Tucson. The TPMS was on indicating that I at least went below its mark. I pressed the "4X4 LOCK" and "ESC OFF" buttons, put the manumatic into gear and ventured onto the sand.
On the beach itself:
The Tucson happily plowed through the sand. I actually had to back off the gas as she was trying her best to go past 20mph. That's bad for two reasons: 1) the LOCK cuts off at 20, don't want that in 1-2' deep, soft sand! and 2) there's a 15 mph speed limit at Fort Fisher. The ride was smooth considering there were undulations and ruts caused by other vehicles. I never felt her bottom out. I did hear the occassional swishing sound of sand as the various "skid plates" slid across the sand. Compared to my 2003 Tracker that the Tucson replaced it was riding on a brand new, freshly paved asphalt interstate highway with no traffic!
After about 3-5 minutes of driving straight, parallel with the ocean (check out the video below to see what it was like when I came off the beach) you come to beach cross-over number 1. This is where you actually cross the dune line and if you get stupid and keep driving straight you will find out that your 4X4 can not go under water! As you may guess, this is one of the two hardest parts of driving on Fort Fisher. This where everyone has to cross. There's no other way to the surf. This is the deepest sand. You have to make a seeping left turn, go about 1/4 mile - uphill. At the crest of the hill you can go straight and stop just outof the traffic or (your only other choice) make a sharp right. You never know if someone's coming off the beach or if someone buried their Escalade to the frame rails so you have to be ready to stop. Once you clear cross-over number 1 it's relatively smooth sailing. Until you find where you want to stop and enjoy the beach.
To Be Continued