THE HYUNDAI VISION T CONCEPT TRADES PSEUDO-RUGGEDNESS FOR PLUG-IN HYBRID REFINEMENT

Parametric Fantasy and Transcendent Connectivity, together in one vehicle? Sit down, folks, because it’s just been done.

Bigger than a Tucson, smaller than a Palisade, the Hyundai Vision T concept is a plug-in hybrid crossover with few off-road pretensions.

A few years back, Hyundai claimed that an elegant, exaggerated coupe was the perfect way to express a new design language. But then crossovers took over and automakers collectively decided that flashy concepts with limited production prospects made little sense (and also, Genesis became its own brand).

So it should come as no surprise that, when it wanted to show off the next phase of what it calls its “sensuous sportiness” design language, Hyundai created the Vision T.

According to Hyundai, the plug-in hybrid Vision T—just unveiled at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show—is meant to embody both Parametric Fantasy and Transcendent Connectivity, a feat that surely only a handful of automakers are capable of pulling off. We’ve been trying to figure out exactly what those terms mean since the vehicle was teased awhile back, and to be honest, we’re not making much headway.

What is clear is that the Vision T has few off-road pretensions; it gets the seemingly inescapable plastic cladding over its wheel arches, but its sloping roofline and frameless side window treatments point to a not-too-distant future where crossovers are so ubiquitous that nobody has to pretend they’re descendants of body-on-frame trucks.

Beyond stating that it’s a plug-in, Hyundai has said little about the Vision T’s powertrain; the concept seems to be more about the vehicle’s skin than what’s under it. Take the front end. Hyundai describes it thus: “When stationary, the grille is closed and static. Once in motion, each individual cell of the grille design continues to move in a prescribed sequence, creating a truly dynamic forward demeanor.”

This seems a little gimmicky at first, but it does serve a function. Opening and closing the grille’s shutters balances aerodynamics with the hybrid powertrain’s need for airflow. Active grille shutters already exist—you’ll even find them on non-fuel-sippers like the Ram 1500—but rather than tucking the tech away and out of sight, the Hyundai concept turns it into a highly visible feature, which is cool.

The Vision T seems to be all about hiding things away when they’re not in use. That theme carries over to the headlights, which feature “a half-mirror system that has a chromium appearance which transforms into functional lighting on demand.”

Size-wise, the concept is 181.5 inches long on a 110.4-inch wheelbase with a height of 67.1 inches, making it a little smaller all around than the Palisade, but larger than the Tucson—and a touch bigger than the Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid.

Again, we don’t have much to go on when it comes to powertrain. The Hyundai Ioniq’s plug-in system could be a good start here, but its 156 hp total system output wouldn’t do this larger, taller vehicle any favors.

Hyundai hasn’t committed to production plans for the Vision T just yet. But splitting hairs—and segments—doesn’t seem to be a problem when it comes to crossovers these days, and plug-in SUVs are all the rage. So if you like what you see here, stay tuned. Just don’t count too much on the hideaway headlights and transformer grille making the leap to the dealer showroom.

When you shut down the Vision T concept, its taillights turn off in a special farewell sequence; the Hyundai logo in the center of the tailgate is the last bit illuminated.

By GRAHAM KOZAK 

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