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2007 Hyundai Veracruz – I Drive a $38,000 Hyundai


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.

Safety – a New Hyundai Communications Advantage
Not yet known for its safety message, Hyundai has very strong safety credentials. Over 70% of Hyundai vehicles have electronic stability control – substantially higher than Toyota or Honda. The Veracruz has achieved 5-star safety ratings for front and side safety ratings and a 4-star rating for rollover. A 4-star rating is considered to be pretty good for an SUV – even a crossover SUV like the Veracruz.
No Navigation System – YET


The glaring omission in the Veracruz is a lack of a navigation system. This may be rectified in 2008 when Hyundai may implement a navigation system developed with LG, the Korean consumer electronics giant. There is a central question at HMA whether or not an integral navigation system priced at $1,500 or more would be preferred over presently available hand-held GPS systems from Garmin, TomTom or Magellan. From our view, the integral version should be offered until a GPS system that would sync with a monitor in the Veracruz is available. Maybe next generation.

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