A stereotype exists which states that attractive singles often appear with a less attractive friend in tow to enhance their desirability via the comparison. As a chubby, middle-aged man who hasn’t been single since the first Bush was President I’m not in a position to judge how attractive anyone of either gender is or isn’t. I can, however, state that this stereotype is 100% valid when it comes to a comparison of my wife’s 16-year-old Toyota Land Cruiser versus my 15-year-old Hyundai Galloper (which we affectionately call the Malloper). Besides cost, there is almost nothing about the Malloper that doesn’t make the Land Cruiser look better by comparison.
I’m not saying that Hyundai didn’t try with the Galloper, which delivers the ride quality of an actual horse, but the budgetary constraints were apparently insurmountable. The end result is an SUV that smacks of the McDowells vs. McDonalds saga depicted in the movie Coming to America. Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery and Toyota should be blushing, but it’s a shame that a car that costs roughly half as much is only a third as good. If you’ve never seen a Galloper up close it’s probably because you live in a part of the world, such as the United States, where they aren’t considered street-legal. For many good reasons.
There are a host of obvious similarities between the two SUVs, but let’s look at some of the McDowell-like parellels (keeping in mind that unlike the movie the differences are bad):
Instrument cluster: Yes, the Galloper’s dash features a special cluster of gauges which mirror those of the Land Cruiser. Kindof. I’m not sure a non-functioning altimeter was really needed as the Galloper could theoretically fall from a high place but it can’t fly. Moreover, using the entire left guage for a crude outline of the vehicle with an almost legible display of the current temperature OUTSIDE of that rendering seems like overkill — I get it, it’s not the temperature inside). In defense of the Galloper the Land Cruiser’s compass routinely goes haywire and indicates that every direction is north.
Third Row of seats: the LC has fold-down seats that clip in to the floor of the vehicle, preventing a bump or turn from sending passengers flying. The Malloper went safety-minus on this front. Yes, there are fold-down seats in the same basic spot but they don’t latch to the floor and instead become the equivalent of a poorly-maintained carnival ride. It took less than two minutes to remove the seats, which now reside in a closet.
There are also a few spots where the engineers at Hyundai looking over the Land Cruiser specs just threw their hands up in the air and chose to go a different, dramatically cheaper path.
Upholstery: The Galloper has the fabric equivalent of wallpaper on the inside of the doors (matching the same pattern on the seats). I don’t have anything else to offer here besides an appreciation for the gumption of whoever pitched this idea.
Windshield Washer Fluid Nozzles: the Land Cruiser has standard-issue nozzles on the hood which spray washer fluid across the windshield. Hyundai declared this a luxury item and instead provided thin metal tubes that sit in the skinny zone between the windshield and the hood under a thin screen designed to keep out leaves, and squirrels. In reality the screen traps every leaf that comes near it and the underpowered washer fluid pump can’t get the spray past the blockage.
Another way to compare these two vehicles is a simple pro/con list:
Land Cruiser Advantages:
Heavy. If you hit something, that thing will likely move.
Metal to plastic ratio: Related to the heavy issue, there’s much more metal than plastic at work here.
What will the neighbors say? Per our Spanish teacher, any report of criminal activity in the area typically ends by stating that the bad guys drove a Hyundai. Advantage Toyota.
Land Cruiser Disadvantages:
Turtle-like: All of that heavy metal could have used a bigger engine, or a nitro kit.
Cost: It costs significantly more to begin with and replacement parts are even worse (mostly due to government imposed taxes). I think the theory is that if you can’t afford it you can always buy a Hyundai.
Cost: It starts off cheap, and it stays that way. The fabric wallpaper does a good job of hiding the heads of all the screws you end up using to keep the doors together.
Relatively quick: Plastic weighs less than metal, but expect to bounce off of anything you hit.
Blending: Nobody will think you’re a tourist.
Headroom: Sure it has the profile of a toaster but, should the occasion every arise you can wear a large sombrero and never touch the headliner.
Safety: For reasons already stated, as well as the fact that all of the same short-cuts used for fit/finish were also likely taken with the parts and engineering, this should be considered a mobile, primarily-plastic coffin. It’s probably a good thing that its top-end is 85 kms.
Reputation: This is not the car you want to park in front of the bank if you’re looking for a loan. This is the getaway car parked in front of the bank.
In the short period of time I’ve owned the Malloper I’ve already used: wire, glue, caulk, sheet metal screws, tape and a local welder (3 times) to piece it back together. It’s old, bulky, creaky and cheap — the vehicle equivalent of me, the ugly horse in our family’s stable.