2009 Hyundai Veracruz Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
June 16, 2009

The 2009 Hyundai Veracruz is an impressive SUV for the price, but it’s no Lexus.

TheCarConnection.com has driven the Hyundai Veracruz in order to give you an expert opinion, presented here alongside highlights from available road tests on the Veracruz.

The 2009 Hyundai Veracruz looks a lot like a Lexus RX 350, and that's the intent. With the Veracruz, Hyundai aims to take on luxury crossovers, though with a much lower price.

The exterior style of the Hyundai Veracruz is sleek and flowing, rather than rugged, from a distance; up close Hyundai has taken its own direction with the details, with upscale interior styling and attractive, soft-touch surfaces.

A 260-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine moves the 2009 Hyundai Veracruz. It's hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission and delivers power via front- or all-wheel drive. The powertrain provides adequate performance, though the transmission isn't as decisive or quick to downshift as most others in rival vehicles.

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The seven-passenger Hyundai Veracruz has three rows of seating to accommodate up to seven, but the third row is quite cramped. Whether with cloth or leather upholstery, the interior is pleasant but not quite luxury-caliber, though functionally the Veracruz is every bit as useful and comfortable, with plenty of headroom and legroom for the first and second rows and family-friendly cubbies throughout.

The 2009 Hyundai Veracruz sacrifices some interior space, but Hyundai’s crossover is a quality-built vehicle and one of the safest in its class. With styling borrowed from more expensive luxury crossovers, the affordable Veracruz impresses with its list of features and design attributes; its driving experience, however, ranks squarely as average among its many mid-size competitors.

Handy features available in the Veracruz include a cooler box, an AC power outlet, and a powerful 605-watt premium sound system. For 2009 Hyundai simplified the Veracruz’s trim level packages by eliminating the SE model and narrowing the choice to the GLS and the Limited, with the GLS Preferred Package incorporating the most popular SE features.

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2009 Hyundai Veracruz

Styling

The interior styling of the 2009 Hyundai Veracruz might fool you, at first, into thinking you’re in a more expensive vehicle.

In their firsthand experience, TheCarConnection.com’s editors find that the Veracruz’s curvy silhouette, with its more aggressively arched roofline, sacrifices space at the back of the vehicle and behind the third-row seat.

When it comes to making comparisons to Lexus, reviewers can't resist. The Washington Post actually considers 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,” beams the Post reviewer, who continues: “Inside, it also feels better—more spacious, less cramped than the RX350.”

Although the 2009 Veracruz is priced against more affordable models such as the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, Hyundai reportedly benchmarked the Lexus RX 350 when designing and engineering the Veracruz. It shows in the Veracruz’s styling, as it has the same streamlined shape and similar design details.

When comparing the Veracruz to the Lexus, not all comments are favorable. According to Kelley Blue Book, “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 adds, “Side mirrors with integrated turn indicators and puddle lights are a nice touch.”

More kudos are bestowed on the Veracruz, with Popular Mechanics singling out the overhead mood lighting and illuminated doorsill plates. MyRide.com applauds the interior design as inviting and warm, as well as sees plenty of hints of the Lexus, but notices that the dash’s flattop reflects glare in daylight. Truck Trend appreciates the stylish looks and logical function, saying, “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.”

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2009 Hyundai Veracruz

Performance

The 2009 Hyundai Veracruz doesn't dazzle anyone with its sport-sedan performance or off-road prowess, but it does possess enough gusto for most people.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com cover a mixture 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.

The 2009 Veracruz’s automatic transmission has Shiftronic, which brings a manual shift gate by which drivers can manually select the gears one at a time, but there is some criticism around how well it works. “All buyers will appreciate the manual shift control, though the Veracruz executes its own upshifts early, which serves to steal some fun,” says MyRide.com.

The majority of critics' complaints, in fact, are 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,” observes MyRide.com. “In merging and passing situations the refined six-speed transmission can be a little reluctant to kick down into a lower gear,” agrees Kelley Blue Book, “but keep squeezing the accelerator pedal and the Veracruz rewards with enough power to get the job done.”

When it comes to the 3.8-liter, 260-horsepower V-6 engine, most reviews are favorable, with only a few criticizing the engine for its sluggishness when accelerating from a standstill. ConsumerGuide says, “A bit slow from a stop, Veracruz has acceptable power once underway.”

The Veracruz isn’t described as sporty or exciting, but its smooth ride and safe, stable handling are commended, though few go so far as to say that it feels sporty or exciting. ConsumerGuide remarks, “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,” says ConsumerGuide. Popular Mechanics also mentions the steering’s “rather numb” feel on-center. Cars.com reports that the Veracruz has quite a bit of body roll (lean) on twisty roads.

The Veracruz’s four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes possess plenty of stopping power, according to Cars.com, but the pedal’s “mushy feel is a little disappointing.” However, other reviewers don’t single this out.

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

During a weekend camping trip, TheCarConnection.com’s editors note a transmission hesitation that is especially apparent in the mountains, not on level ground. Even at high altitude, the V-6 has plenty of pep to haul three and loads of gear. Handling is, as reported, on the mushy side but safe.

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2009 Hyundai Veracruz

Comfort & Quality

With the 2009 Hyundai Veracruz, you’ll get more than you expect and a quiet, refined experience.

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. Only a couple of reviewers comment that the Veracruz’s price, totaling more than $38,000 for a loaded Limited model, is too high for Hyundai.

Kelley Blue Book also hones 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 declares that in a variety of uses, the Veracruz “never failed to impress us as effortless and comfortable.” Other reviewers note similarities between the Lexus RX 350 and the Veracruz in the appearance of fine details and are especially impressed with the materials and the upscale feel of the interior.

“The materials are above and beyond what one would expect from a non-luxury brand like Hyundai,” says MyRide.com, which commends the Veracruz for its quiet ride, except for what it describes as “excess wind noise.” Other reviews praise the lack of engine and road noise but don’t corroborate the wind-noise complaint.

Truck Trend, however, lends a more critical eye, as part of a comparison test versus mid-size SUV competitors and points out 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.”

TheCarConnection.com notes that the Veracruz isn’t in its element even on unpaved roads, where the ride is harsh, nor is it configured for extensive off-roading.

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2009 Hyundai Veracruz

Safety

Safety tests confirm that the 2009 Hyundai Veracruz is one of the top picks in its class.

The Hyundai Veracruz receives a Good rating in all of the crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)—including its seat-based rear-impact test, which gauges whiplash protection. The Veracruz also achieves a top five-star rating in all of the federal government's frontal and side crash tests.

Kelley Blue Book summarizes, “The Veracruz performed well enough in government crash tests to receive ratings equal to those of its best competitors.” Cars.com notes 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.

The Washington Post points to its standard electronic stability control, side and head airbags, front active head restraints, and anti-lock brakes, among other features.

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2009 Hyundai Veracruz

Features

Compared to other vehicles in its class, the Veracruz comes loaded.

In terms of features, not much has changed for 2009, but Hyundai gives the Veracruz USB/iPod auxiliary inputs in the vehicle’s audio system. Trim packages are also modified to include a GLS with Preferred and Premium Packages, and a new black-leather interior and monochromatic exterior is offered on the Limited. Like most Hyundai models, however, the Veracruz already offers a host of features.

“No more melted chocolate bars for the kiddies,” Popular Mechanics notes, “and the perforated leather seats keep mommies and daddies cool, too." Kelley Blue Book points 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,

Autoblog hones in on the cooling box, which uses ducting from the air conditioning system. The Washington Post beams 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.”

The extensive list of standard features on the $28,600 base-priced GLS is impressive, but all the reviews we scoured are of high-end Limited models. Popular Mechanics gives 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.”

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. An LG-brand nav system is now available.

As impressive as the features lists on the GLS and Limited are, seating and cargo space prove controversial. Nearly all the reviews point 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,” says Kelley Blue Book, which it states is significantly less than either the Toyota Highlander or Honda Pilot.

Kelley Blue Book also remarks, “The third-row seat is about as accommodating as others in the category—best for kids, doable for adults,” but Autoblog has a different perspective, commenting, “rear door openings are large and access to the third row is fairly easy.” MyRide.com compliments the wide bolstering and, including the padded armrests alongside, declares that the seats “made for a downright comfy spot even as the miles piled on.” The same reviewer observes plenty of foot- and headroom in the second-row seat but criticizes it as flat and low and points out that the sloped roofline and wheel well hurt access to the third row, which echo the comments in several other reviews.

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7.6
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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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