AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards results are in. AutoPacific’s awards collect the opinions of OWNERS. There is no subjectivity added by AutoPacific at all.
Truck-Based Traditional SUVs Most Satisfying
As usual, there are expected winners and unexpected losers, but let’s take a look at some overall results that will surprise many of you.
The vehicle type with the highest Vehicle Satisfaction Score is the Traditional Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are truck-based SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade
, Toyota Sequoia
, Ford Explorer
, Toyota 4Runner
, Kia Sorento
, HUMMER H3
and Toyota FJ Cruiser
. In fact, the Toyota Sequoia was the top scoring vehicle – car or truck – in AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction results.
Car-Based Crossover SUVs More Satisfying than Cars, Minivans, Pickups
The second highest scoring category was the Crossover Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are car-based SUVs like the Audi Q7
, BMW X3
, Acura RDX
, Buick Enclave
, GMC Acadia
, Hyundai Veracruz
, Suzuki XL-7
, Ford Edge
, Saturn Vue
, Toyota RAV4
and Nissan Rogue
. Crossovers are the response by the automakers to make more user-friendly SUVs and in 2006 Crossover SUVs began outselling Traditional SUVs… a trend that will not be reversed.
Rated substantially behind SUVs are Cars, Minivans and Pickups.
Clearly, even in times of high and increasing fuel prices, SUVs are here to stay. Their Swiss Army Knife utility guarantees they will be a central part of a high many family fleets in the future. The continuing jihad against SUVs has failed again!
Just a few years ago, I never thought I would drive a Hyundai priced over $38,000, but today I did. This was an all-wheel-drive Hyundai Veracruz
Limited with the Ultimate package. The Veracruz is Hyundai’s new top-of-the-line Crossover SUV. Basically, it had all the boxes checked. Think of it this way… a 2008 Lexus RX350 base base base MSRP is $37,400. Think FWD, cloth seats and not much equipment. Begin adding equipment, like AWD and leather seats, and that will take it well above $38,000 and you quickly go above the top-priced Veracruz. Of course, Veracruz’ pricing starts at around $27,000 and that makes it seem more like the Hyundai value proposition we are accustomed to.
VehicleVoice and AutoPacific staffers were suitably impressed with the new Veracruz which is at dealers now.
The Veracruz is based on the same platform as the lower-priced Hyundai Santa Fe that has been a winner for Hyundai since it was launched a generation ago. Santa Fe is the winner of six straight AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Awards – no small feat. If that is any indication, Veracruz will be a strong contender in the Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV category.
Vehicle Configuration – Unitized Body, V6-powered, IRS
Based on the Santa Fe, Veracruz has a stiff unitized body with Macpherson strut front suspension and an independent rear suspension. Veracruz is powered by a version of Hyundai’s Lambda V6 engine family – 3.8L V6 with 260-horsepower and 257 foot pounds of torque. It has Hyundai’s 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic.
Driving the Veracruz – Perfectly Acceptable; Almost Lexus-like
Driving the Veracruz showed a vehicle that is equal to or better than the RX350 and has a better package. In other words, the Veracruz is easier to get into and out of. Its cargo room seems more commodious. Visibility is excellent. The seats, for my porky body, may be a bit small. Cases in point. The cushion length seems short even for my 5th percentile legs. The seat back seems a bit too narrow and does not give much lateral support. This is just picking nits. Overall, the Veracruz is a winner. And, in some ways, seems to be more of a piece than the vaunted Lexus.
Not All is Perfect – Nits to Pick
What were some other nits? Well, the interior door handles are black instead of the more traditional chrome or nickel plating. We’d prefer the nickel plating (which corresponds to the other brightwork on the Veracruz), but Hyundai stylists actually preferred the black. The digital clock was difficult to read in bright sunlight and needed some sort of lip to block the sunlight. The 3.8L V6 was a bit raspy under hard acceleration. Sounded more like a run-of-the-mill SUV than the top-of-the-line.
The Good Stuff – Almost Everything Else
But other than these small issues that are easily adjusted if Hyundai cares to, the vehicle was outstanding. Good ride quality. Good NVH – meaning it was relatively quiet under all situations except hard acceleration as noted above. Controls felt good and were easy to understand. Filips include side mirror turn signals with puddle lamps, projector (but not HID) headlamps, blue backlit instrumentation and blue lighted scuff plates in the upper models.
Seven Passenger Seating – 3rd Row is Usable for Smaller Folks
Auto journalist and famed rally driver Sue Mead tries out the 3rd row of the Veracruz while John Krafcik and Gary Vashilash look on. Check out the seat trim on this Veracruz Limited Ultimate!
The thing that differentiates Veracruz most from its Santa Fe stablemate is that Veracruz is 100% 7-passenger. Only about a quarter of Santa Fe buyers select the 7-passenger version. Frankly, I’d like for Veracruz to be available in a 5-passenger version as well – more cargo room. The 3rd row seat is adequate as can be seen here with journalist Gary Vasilash and Hyundai Product Planning VP John Krafcik crammed in the rear. These are both smaller guys, so at least large children can be accommodated.
Gary Vasilash, editor of Automotive Design and Production Magazine and John Krafcik, Vice President of Product Planning and Strategic Planning for Hyundai Motor America, check out the 3rd row seat.
While the LA Auto Show opens to the public at the beginning of December, Detroit’s North American International Auto Show is also just around the corner, in January 2007. With the holidays, it’ll be here before you know it.
Detroit’s show has long been the most important in North America, in terms of media attendance and coverage as well as industry attention and presence. By comparison, the other U.S. shows are but a blip in the media clip file. But several others claim more consumer attendance, and Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York rank as significant events in the U.S. automotive calendar.
In past years Detroit and Los Angeles started within days of one another, and while manufacturers are drumming up news with the closer Los Angeles show, several strategic announcements are being made about what we’ll see in Detroit as well.
Just this week, the Chrysler Group released sketches of two of its 2007 concept vehicles, the four-door coupe Chrysler Nassau and what looks to be an ultimate Jeep in the TrailHawk. Chevrolet has announced we’ll get our first look at the 2008 Malibu in Detroit (and released a photo of the interior as a tease).
Hyundai announced the Veracruz will be in Detroit, seemingly ages ago (click here
for our Veracruz
story). We’ve already commented on Nissan’s Rogue (and its European sibling Qashqai), scheduled for Detroit as well (click here
). Cadillac will show the updated 2008 CTS, Hummer is rumored to be showing a concept H4 that could take aim at the Wrangler about 2010MY (if they can find a platform), Infiniti may show the G35 coupe, and Mitsubishi will show their Lancer (though we will have a drive review available ahead of the reveal). Though MINI revealed the latest Cooper in Paris in September (click here
for our story), U.S. buyers get their first look in Detroit.
The winner here? You, the consumer, with lots of new products coming down the pipe and exciting new vehicles to see when it comes time for your local auto show, even if you can’t get to the big events.
Hyundai has developed a new SUV/crossover to go up against the likes of the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, and Mitsubishi Endeavor. In size terms, it falls neatly between the Pilot and Explorer, or between Mazda’s new CX-7 and upcoming CX-9. On sale in the States in December 2006 and being formally introduced to U.S. buyers at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in January, Veracruz has already arrived in the home market. Here are some photos of the Korean-specification model, from VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents, along with some speculation and fact about what we think we’ll see here in three month’s time.
At first glance, the Veracruz styling is attractive and the expected equipment level looks to be competitive. We’re looking forward to seeing it in the tin, the real measure. As Hyundai product executions make solid strides in quality and overall look with each successive product, the Veracruz has potential to be one of the best Hyundai offerings yet.