Hyundai XRT brand to appeal to off-road enthusiasts

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Hyundai is about to introduce a range of models with more serious off-road credentials – and the looks to match.

The XRT range has been available in the US market for some years and Hyundai Australia has confirmed it will launch a number of variants in the local market from later this year.

New XRT variants were unveiled at this week’s New York motor show, including one based on the updated Tucson mid-sized SUV and another on the Santa Cruz ute.

“We can confirm XRT is coming to Australia,” said a Hyundai Australia spokesman.

The brand is not yet willing to reveal which models will get the XRT treatment, but the mid-size Tucson, seven-seat Santa Fe and larger Palisade are likely candidates.

“We are working on a plan,” the spokesman said.

XRT models typically get more aggressive design highlights, including black wheels and black highlights, as well as XRT embossing on the seats.

Depending on the model they may also pick up all-terrain tyres that are designed to boost off-road grip and better resist punctures.

Other off-road focused elements include underbody protection to look after key mechanical components and, in some instances, a higher ride height for better off-road ability.

It’s all about catering to those who yearn for more capability from vehicles typically designed to do most of their work on the bitumen.

There is one caveat: the XRT models shown at this week’s New York motor show may not be entirely representative of what we see in Australia.

That’s because the likes of the Santa Fe XRT are manufactured in the US, whereas our XRT variants will come out of the same Korean factories that supply models such as the Santa Fe and Tucson.

One SUV that hasn’t yet been given the XRT treatment is the all-electric Ioniq 5.

While off-road capability hasn’t been a focus of the EV market to date, it’s only a matter of time until it is addressed.