2008 Hyundai Veracruz Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 12, 2008

Hyundai’s most expensive model may not quite be a Lexus, but it’s impressive in its own right.

TheCarConnection.com’s car experts read all the competitive reviews on the new Hyundai Veracruz crossover to produce this conclusive review, and to give enthusiastic approval of the new Veracruz. TheCarConnection.com also drove the car to be able to give you an expert opinion on the car, and to help you figure out the truth where other car reviews might differ.

The seven-passenger Veracruz was introduced last year as an all-new crossover utility vehicle that comes with a 260-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission, with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.

The Veracruz offers a driving experience that’s in the middle of the pack, with respect to the especially crowded pack of mid-size crossover competitors, but what makes it noteworthy is its flair; it borrows styling, design attributes, and features from luxury-brand crossovers in a class above while keeping prices more affordable. The more curvaceous design sacrifices interior space only slightly, Hyundai’s impressive quality is a strong point, and it’s among the safest vehicles in its class.

8

2008 Hyundai Veracruz

Styling

The Veracruz’s curvier sheetmetal brings a little less practicality, yet avoids the boxy, traditional SUV look, and its Lexus-like interior styling might just fool you into thinking you’re in a more expensive vehicle.

Reviewers couldn’t resist the Lexus comparisons. Some, such as the Washington Post, actually thought the Hyundai the more attractive of the two. “It has a longer, more elegantly sculpted body than the RX350. Inside and out, it simply looks better,” beamed the Post reviewer, who continued: “Inside, it also feels better—more spacious, less cramped than the RX350.”

They weren’t gushing, however. Kelley Blue Book, also comparing the Veracruz to the RX 350, said, “Dual chrome exhaust outlets, a rear spoiler and available 18-inch wheels don't impart a sporty appearance as much as they defend against blandness.” Still looking at its exterior, KBB added, “Side mirrors with integrated turn indicators and puddle lights are a nice touch.”

The compliments were piled on regarding the Veracruz’s interior. Truck Trend appreciated the stylish looks and logical function and said, “Each portion of it is dedicated to its respective function: HVAC, audio, etc. The knobs and buttons are easy to understand and do what you want them to in an intuitive way.” Popular Mechanics singled out the overhead mood lighting and illuminated doorsill plates, while MyRide.com applauded the interior design as inviting and warm, and also saw plenty of hints of the Lexus, but noticed that the dash’s flattop reflected glare in daylight.

As TheCarConnection.com found in firsthand experience with the Veracruz, its curvy silhouette comes with a sacrifice compared with boxier models: its more aggressively arched roofline does restrict space at the back of the vehicle, behind the third row seat especially.

7

2008 Hyundai Veracruz

Performance

Don’t expect sport-sedan performance or off-road prowess, but the Veracruz will have plenty of gusto for most people.

Nearly all reviews we read commended the power available from the 260-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 engine. Only a couple of reviews mentioned a little sluggishness from standstill—for instance, ConsumerGuide said, “A bit slow from a stop, Veracruz has acceptable power once underway.”

An abundance of critics’ complaints centered on the six-speed automatic transmission. “Goose the gas pedal for an aggressive pass and a confused throttle or off-guard transmission causes a noticeable delay,” described MyRide.com. “In merging and passing situations the refined six-speed transmission can be a little reluctant to kick down into a lower gear,” agreed Kelley Blue Book, “but keep squeezing the accelerator pedal and the Veracruz rewards with enough power to get the job done.”

The automatic transmission has Shiftronic, which brings a manual shift gate by which drivers can manually select the gears one at a time, but there was also some criticism around how it worked. “All buyers will appreciate the manual shift control, though the Veracruz executes its own upshifts early, which serves to steal some fun,” said MyRide.com.

Reviews covered a mix of front- and all-wheel-drive models. The Veracruz’s available all-wheel-drive system sends power to the rear wheels when needed or can lock 50 percent of engine power to back.

Reviewers typically praised the Veracruz’s smooth ride and safe, stable handling, but few went so far as to say that it felt sporty or exciting. Cars.com reported that the Veracruz had quite a bit of body roll (lean) on twisty roads, while ConsumerGuide remarked, “Suspension tuning favors ride quality over handling response,” also noting the body lean in corners and the lack of steering feel. “Still, Veracruz never felt unstable, even on slick roads,” said ConsumerGuide. Popular Mechanics also mentioned the steering’s “rather numb” feel on-center.

Cars.com noted that the four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes had plenty of stopping power, but the pedal’s “mushy feel is a little disappointing,” although other reviewers didn’t single this out.

Relative to full-size SUVs, Kelley Blue Book pointed out, the Veracruz is much easier to park due to its shorter length and smaller turning circle.

When TheCarConnection.com took a Veracruz on a weekend camping trip, transmission hesitation was especially noticeable in the mountains, though it never bothered us on level ground. Even at high altitude, the V-6 had plenty of pep to haul three and loads of gear. Handling was, as reported, on the mushy side but safe. It should be noted that the Veracruz isn’t in its element even on unpaved roads, nor is it configured for extensive off-roading.

7

2008 Hyundai Veracruz

Comfort & Quality

More likely than not, you’ll get more than you expect with the 2008 Hyundai Veracruz.

Many reviewers noted similarities between the Lexus RX 350 and the Veracruz in the appearance of fine details, and were especially impressed with the materials and the upscale feel of the interior. Kelley Blue Book honed in on the premium details that might otherwise only be seen in luxury-brand vehicles, such as “soft-lined bins and consoles and ambient spotlighting,” and further declared that in a variety of uses, the Veracruz “never failed to impress us as effortless and comfortable.”

MyRide.com said, “the materials are above and beyond what one would expect from a non-luxury brand like Hyundai,” and commended the Veracruz for its quiet ride, except for what it described as “excess wind noise.” Other reviews praised the lack of engine and road noise but didn’t corroborate the wind-noise complaint.

Not everyone was completely beaming, though. Truck Trend lent a more critical eye, as part of a comparison test versus mid-size SUV competitors, and declared that “the leather and vinyl on the seats didn't quite color-match, the silver finish on the center stack doesn't appear all that sturdy, and there were a few misaligned bits of trim.”

Only a couple of reviewers commented that the Veracruz’s price, totaling more than $38,000 for a loaded Limited model, was getting too high for Hyundai, the brand that not too long ago was selling stripped-down economy cars. However, the old worries about resale value with Hyundais are no longer an issue, Kelley Blue Book reports, as the Veracruz is expected to maintain its value just as well as the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot.

9

2008 Hyundai Veracruz

Safety

All the major safety equipment that counts is included, and tests have shown that the 2008 Hyundai Veracruz provided a high degree of occupant protection.

The Veracruz achieved a top five-star rating in all of the federal governments frontal and side crash tests, along with the top Good rating in all of the crash test conducted by the insurance industry (IIHS)—including its seat-based rear-impact test, which gauges whiplash protection.

The Washington Post pointed to its standard electronic stability control, side and head airbags, front active head restraints, and anti-lock brakes, among other features, while Kelley Blue Book summarized, “The Veracruz performed well enough in government crash tests to receive ratings equal to those of its best competitors.”

Cars.com noted that while the Veracruz is available with power-adjustable pedals and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a much appreciated feature for some SUV drivers, isn’t available.

7

2008 Hyundai Veracruz

Features

The 2008 Hyundai Veracruz comes with more features than most other vehicles in its class.

Like most Hyundai models, the Veracruz offers a lot of features for the money. The Washington Post beamed about the wealth of standard equipment on the Veracruz, saying that it “has more standard equipment — including some that is usually optional, such as third-row seating — than the RX350.”

Kelley Blue Book pointed out the optional power liftgate as one of the Veracruz’s most appreciated features, along with the Proximity Key remote-sensing feature (standard on the Limited) that automatically locks and unlocks the vehicle as you walk toward or away from the vehicle, while Autoblog honed in on the cooling box, which uses ducted cooled air from the air conditioning system. “No more melted chocolate bars for the kiddies,” Popular Mechanics noted, “and the perforated leather seats keep mommies and daddies cool, too."

Other noteworthy features on the Limited include rain-sensing wipers (standard on this edition), an available 605-watt audio system, backseat DVD entertainment, and a 115-volt AC power outlet. Several reviewers noted the lack of an available navigation system on the Veracruz, but for 2008 an LG-brand system is now available.

The more modestly equipped GLS—which still has an extensive list of standard features—has a much more attractive $28,600 base price, but all the reviews we scoured were of high-end Limited models. Popular Mechanics gave a nod to the lower-priced models, saying that most of the model’s “goodness” is included on there, too, so “you can skip some features and still have one of the best seven-passenger crossovers on the market.”

Though nearly all reviewers were excited about the features list, seating and cargo space proved controversial. Like several other reviewers, MyRide.com complimented the wide bolstering and, including the padded armrests alongside, said that the seats “made for a downright comfy spot even as the miles piled on.” The same reviewer said that there was plenty of foot- and headroom in the second-row seat but criticized it as flat and low and said that the sloped roofline and wheel well hurt access to the third row, which echoed the comments in several other reviews. Kelley Blue Book had kinder, but similar words, saying, “The third-row seat is about as accommodating as others in the category—best for kids, doable for adults,” but Autoblog had a different perspective, saying, “rear door openings are large and access to the third row is fairly easy.”

Nearly all the reviews pointed out the lack of cargo space when the third-row seat is in use—an issue with many three-row, mid-size SUVs. “Traveling with a car full of people and their luggage may be rather tight, as cargo room behind the third-row seat is under seven cubic feet,” said Kelley Blue Book, which it said is significantly less than either the Toyota Highlander or Honda Pilot.

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7.6
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 8.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 7.0
Safety 9.0
Features 7.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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