There’s no ambiguity about it: The 2019 Hyundai Veloster N is a great front-drive performance car. Heck, it’s a great car, bar none. We love it, and have said so every time we drove it. But if you want more proof, our friends at Road & Track named it their prestigious Performance Car of the Year – no small feat from a company that’s only just gotten serious about performance, let alone for a front-wheel drive car. So, it has enthusiast driving cred. But can it handle double duty as a family car?
The quick answer is: as long as your two kids are not lanky teens, then sure. Got a couple of toddlers or preteens? Then quite possibly.
Note: This is NOT a guide to proper car seat installation, but rather an overview of how well a particular vehicle may accommodate passengers and child seats. There are many resources for making sure your car seat is installed correctly. The National Child Passenger Safety Certification technician search and the manufacturer’s instructions are good places to start.
Rear headroom (35.9 inches) is the biggest issue the Veloster has in the back, and that’s not an issue that’s exclusive to the N, of course. I’m 5-foot-10, with a 30-inch inseam and an average length torso, and sitting in the back requires an uncomfortable slouch – it’d only work for short distances for me without discomfort. The GTI has a full 2.2 inches more. But the Veloster gives a generous amount of rear legroom – enough to adjust the front seats to accommodate someone of average height in front of a typical front- or rear-facing car seat. According to the dimensions, it’s not spectacular – 34.1 inches, much less than some other cars we compared the Veloster to – but sometimes the specs don’t reflect reality. The reality is that there’s enough room here for car seats and bigger kiddos.
Not all car seats or all front passengers will work, of course. But the seats and passengers used in this quick fitment test are no outliers. The rear-facing infant seat is a bit unusual, a Cybex Aton 2, but it’s on par with smaller rear-facing seats. The convertible seat is a well-regarded Graco 4Ever, which, although bulky, is my go-to choice for swapping between cars because it’s relatively lightweight. We also have a Chicco NextFit that wasn’t used in this test, which is heavier but easier to cinch – that’s a discussion for another article, however. The hard attachment points on the Veloster N – the LATCH anchor points on and behind the rear seats – were all easily accessible, although the cargo cover probably needs to be removed to get to the rear anchor, which is on the load floor.
With the rear-facing seat behind the front passenger, there’s enough room to get the manufacturer recommended airspace between the back of the front seat and the front of the car seat. Knees are close to the dashboard but not brushing or at an uncomfortable angle, and the seat can recline to a natural position. Likewise for the driver sitting in front of the front-facing seat. Judging by the relative positions of everything, the car seat positions could be swapped and I wouldn't be prevented from adjusting the driver's seat to a comfortable position.
Note I say "comfortable" and not "merely adequate." I can operate a car pretty scrunched up against the wheel and pedals, but the Veloster gives just enough room to actually achieve a level of normal comfort. It’s about the same overall balance as our personal Nissan Leaf provides with the same seats and occupants, although the Leaf gives considerably more rear headroom.
The other nice thing about the Veloster is a generous cargo area. It’s not class leading, at 19.9 cubic feet, but it is close to what the Focus ST (23.3) and MK VII GTI (22.8) offer. It’s shaped appropriately to hold a large stroller and a few bags – enough for two kids and two adults, certainly, in normal situations. The hatchback shape gives you options for stowing stuff you can’t get in, say, a Civic sedan or coupe – with 14.7 and 11.9 cubes, respectively. Read more about how the Veloster compares to these cars in other regards here.
A word about the three-door arrangement: Think carefully about which kid should go in which position, because the one on the driver's side is going to have to climb around the passenger side car seat or go in through the coupe-style driver's door. I found myself crouching uncomfortably in the space behind the folded-forward driver's seat attempting to buckle a tired toddler in. That three door arrangement can certainly be more convenient than a real coupe, especially for maneuvering the infant seat into its base, but it didn't help me much in my situation with the toddler seat. Test-fitting your actual seats, before you sign on the dotted line, should help you figure out if the door arrangement is a dealbreaker in real life.
Many families will want more room than the Veloster N provides if it’s going to be a primary kid-mover, but my take is that the Veloster N could be the perfect second car. You can still take a trip with the kids aboard, while keeping any front occupants relatively happy, and it’s a riot around town. My oldest, who’s 2, smiled big every time the loud pipes opened up. My wife appreciated not having her knees pressed into the glovebox. And in addition to getting to drive it, I didn’t need trigonometry to figure out how to get a stroller and groceries into the back. That makes the Veloster N one of the few truly enjoyable enthusiast vehicles that can handle the kid-hauling task.