Crossovers can be surprisingly capable in the right set of hands, but having a slight lift and lots of cargo room doesn’t automatically make for a stellar 4×4. That apparently comes as news to the driver of a rental Hyundai Tucson who got extremely stuck after wheeling the CUV down a technical off-road trail in southern Utah earlier this month, necessitating the rescue operation seen here.
Matt’s Towing and Recovery, a company based just outside Zion National Park that specializes in off-road vehicle retrieval, posted a video of the ordeal to YouTube. The stage for this particular pageant is the Toquerville Falls trail, a popular path leading to a beautiful waterfall that beckons tourists like a desert oasis. But four-wheel-drive is required, a lifted vehicle is highly recommended, and all it takes is a glance at the TripAdvisor page to confirm that’s the case. Or better yet, watch the full video below and marvel at just how deep the little Hyundai made it into the wilderness on this bombed-out “road.” (The rescue operation begins at 8:45 if you want to skip ahead.)
The full video is also worth a watch because the crew in the yellow XJ Cherokee actually picks up the Hyundai driver halfway to the Hyundai—he had to hike quite a ways to get a cell signal to make a call for help—so you can hear his halfhearted attempts to explain his decision-making firsthand as they close in. Eventually the SUV comes into view lodged sideways across the trail (he was trying to turn around) at the bottom of a wash, with one wheel in the air, countless fresh scratches, and a fair amount of undercarriage damage.
Really, it’s a wonder the Tucson was able to make it as far as it did, especially since this model is only front-wheel drive and doesn’t feature any sort of modifications. It has just 6.4 inches of ground clearance to manage all those sizable rocks and imposing ledges littering the trail—by comparison, a Subaru Crosstrek has 8.7 inches—which alone explains how the crossover’s underside got to be in such sorry shape.
Getting it unstuck is the easy part. The second half of the video shows why these off-road extraction companies often charge upwards of $200 an hour—towing a crossover back up a rocky trail without completely ripping out its oil pan is no small feat. Even with that beastly XJ pulling and the unfortunate driver behind the wheel of the Hyundai to steer around obstacles, it still takes a lot of careful rock stacking and a keen understanding of off-road angles to get it out in one piece.
Eventually, the Hyundai reaches level ground, oil pan intact, and the driver is sent along his merry way to cook up a whopper of an excuse for the rental company. Even if he sprang for the insurance, those policies do not cover off-road driving. Chances are he’s got a long fight ahead of him if he wants to avoid writing a check for a few thousand bucks.
If all that has you itching for more completely unsuitable off-road action, check out the above video Kia made when it decided to send a Kia Sorento up the famous Hell’s Gate obstacle in Moab. Spoiler alert: It’s a far happier ending.