- Standard third-row seat
- Lots of standard features
- Handsome, well-finished interior
- Uninspired handling
- Third-row and cargo space are tighter than rivals
- Transmission programming
- Poor rearward visibility
Comfortable and spacious, the 2012 Hyundai Veracruz lags in fuel economy, ultimate interior space and to some degree, techno features.
The 2012 Hyundai Veracruz is conservative to a fault. It lacks the pizazz of a seven-seat Ford Flex or the hybrid aura of a Toyota Highlander. Instead, it executes the basics of family vehicles very well, with ample room and good safety scores occasionally tempered by its lower gas mileage and cargo space.
Anonymous but handsome still, the Veracruz doesn't resort to the kinds of folds and creases that have turned some big crossovers into caricatures. It's simply a good-looking vehicle, relatively unadorned by details like the Chevy Traverse, but without the upscale ritz of a Buick Enclave. Hyundai says the inspiration was the Lexus RX, and that vehicle's sleek and flowing shape are smoothed out even more here--a complete departure from the Sonata, Accent and Veloster, Hyundai's latest styling efforts. It's more adventurously, slightly, inside, where attractive soft-touch finishes lift it above the dreary plastics found inside a Honda Pilot, for example. It's a flowing, curvaceous design without too many ergonomic foibles and no miscues.
A single powertrain drives the Veracruz. it's a 3.8-liter V-6 with 260 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque, teamed up with a six-speed automatic. Performance is adequate, not blistering, thanks to the Veracruz' chunky 4300-pound curb weight. It doesn't step off the line smartly, but once it's up to speed, the drivetrain keeps up with highway cruising pretty well. The transmission needs improvement: in our most recent drives, the automatic hesitated to downshift and had a lumpy shift quality not common with Hyundai's newer efforts. Even in manual mode, it won't allow redline shifts.
Softer handling is the Veracruz's defining trait compared with some of the big sellers in the class. Steering is light and doesn't have much feedback in corners. Body roll is plentiful, but that translates into a plush ride quality that's one of the Veracruz' best features. Slightly smaller than other seven-seat crossovers, the Veracruz can feel easier to maneuver and to park. All-wheel drive is an option, but the weight penalty and dip in gas mileage (to 16/21 mpg) means it's better left to those who live in four-season climates and really need it.
The Veracruz is spacious in the first two rows of seats, and adults will have enough room in the front four positions, with space in the second-row bench for a smaller person. The third-row seat isn't quite big enough for fully grown humans, though, in proportion with the rest of the Veracruz' body. Cargo space suffers from that too; the curvy rear end cuts into rear-end space that's a snap to tap in a Flex.
Safety scores are available from the IIHS, which gives the Veracruz "good" scores for front- and side-impact protection. The NHTSA hasn't re-tested it since a formula change in the 2011 model year, though. Curtain airbags and stability control are standard, but to get a rearview camera or Bluetooth, you'll have to order them as options. Blind-spot monitors and other more exotic tech innovations are not offered.
All Veracruz crossovers come with power windows, locks and mirrors; air conditioning; an AM/FM/CD player; tilt/telescoping steering; and a power driver seat. Major options include a sunroof; a CD changer; 18-inch wheels; and a power tailgate. A new feature this year is an Alpine audio system with satellite and HD radio, streaming radio via Pandora and Bluetooth, a rearview camera, DVD playback and touchscreen navigation--but it's only available on the Limited model.
2012 Hyundai Veracruz
The 2012 Hyundai Veracruz is rounded in all the right ways but memorable from few angles.
With so many shoppers making the switch from big SUVs to almost equally large crossovers, carmakers have gone to extremes in defining a new look for these car-based utility vehicles. There's the passionately drawn Buick Enclave, for one, and the resolutely right-angled Ford Flex, for another. A few even resort to overt SUV styling cues to hedge their bets, even when it doesn't work--isn't that right, Honda Pilot?
The Hyundai Veracruz looks contemporary as a Lexus RX, but it's not a particularly distinctive vehicle. It's rounded in all the right ways, but we can't find many angles where the Veracruz is truly memorable to look at. It's good-looking, sure, but there isn't much detail applied to the sheetmetal. There's none of the drama infused into Hyundai's newest vehicles--like the Veloster, the Elantra, and the Sonata--just a big helping of tasteful curves that cut a straight line between bland and handsome.The Veracruz is more sure-footed inside, where upscale details and attractive, soft-touch surfaces carry the crossover into a higher plane than you'll experience in the grainy Pilot. It's more like the Toyota Highlander, with subtle curves and flowing lines enveloping the front passengers very mildly. It's a functionally fine workplace too, with big controls and clear divisions of authority, with gauges front and center for the driver, climate and audio controls up high on the center stack where the passenger can read and see them as well. A piece or two detracts from the overall warmth--the windshield reflects a dash piece pretty starkly--but nearly everywhere else, the Veracruz shows how big a leap Hyundai's made in quality feel and perception with its latest products.
2012 Hyundai Veracruz
There's not much enthusiasm in its road manners, but the 2012 Hyundai Veracruz is never too slow or too bouncy.
Variety isn't the driving force behind the 2012 Hyundai Veracruz. It comes with just one powertrain configuration, with an option for changing its front-wheel drive to all-wheel drive. It keeps things focused on a competent, family-friendly driving feel--one without much enthusiasm.
The Veracruz' powertrain pairs a 3.8-liter V-8 with 260 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed automatic. Since the Veracruz weighs about 4,300 pounds, its straight-line performance hits respectable levels, and not much more. When it's cruising, it's fairly serene, but runs out of steam when it's filled with passengers and their stuff.
Some refinement to its transmission programming might help. In previous test drives, we've observed the gearbox hesitates when a downshift is needed, like on a steep hill climb, and shifts themselves aren't as smooth as those in the big Honda and Ford crossovers. There's a Shiftronic mode with some manual control over gear changes, but even doing so won't let the Veracruz' V-6 run to its redline.
The big Veracruz may only rarely encounter really foul weather, and it's already a chunky piece. So if you're outside the usual winter-weather belt, think twice about adding a few hundred pounds of all-wheel-drive hardware.Handling is set on the softer side, which gives the Veracruz a smothering quality. The steering feels numb on center, and doesn't build up much weight as the vehicle builds up cornering forces. The brakes lose some sensitivity when saddled with power-adjustable pedals, like all other such systems do. There's plenty of body roll, but on the plus side, the Veracruz rides quite plushly. And since it's a bit smaller than some crossovers in its class, the Veracruz has a compact turning circle and can be easier to park.
2012 Hyundai Veracruz
Comfort & Quality
The 2012 Hyundai Veracruz loses valuable third-row and cargo space to a sloping roofline.
Third-row seats are a funny thing: they're hardly used as much as you think, and are mostly designed for kids, but buyers want them to be capable of toting adults on occasion. That's where crossovers like the Veracruz lag behind very big vehicles like the Ford Flex and Buick Enclave.
The Veracruz has great passenger space in the front row. Head and leg room are good, though the seats don't have enough bolstering for our tastes. The front seats don't swallow up all the second-row leg room when they're moved back on their tracks, though, which makes the middle seats almost as good, in terms of passenger space. Entry and exit is easy, too.
It's the third row where the Veracruz doesn't quite measure up. The curvy roofline slopes down in such a way that head room suffers. The rearmost bench seat just isn't an option for many adults; kids will be just fine back there, but leg room isn't that plentiful, and entry and exit could be difficult.
The biggest sacrifice to style is in cargo space. The Veracruz has just 13.4 cubic feet of space behind the third-row seat. With the second and third rows folded nearly flat, it can hold up to 86.8 cubic feet of stuff, which makes it almost as spacious as a Ford Flex or Honda Pilot.
2012 Hyundai Veracruz
Some crash-test scores are good, but the 2012 Hyundai Veracruz is missing some of the latest safety technology.
The Hyundai Veracruz has earned good safety scores throughout its life span, and for the 2012 model year, it's still hanging on to "good" ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS gives it that score in both front- and side-impact crash testing, but doesn't assign it a roof-crush score--which means the Veracruz doesn't earn the Top Safety Pick designation.
The IIHS is ahead of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at least--the federal agency hasn't re-tested the Veracruz since it changed its testing methodology in the 2011 model year. We'll update this review if new ratings are published, but since the Veracruz is nearing the end of its life cycle, we don't expect the Feds to re-test it until a new model replaces the current one.
The Veracruz' standard safety equipment includes dual front, side and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control; and front active head restraints. Rear parking sensors are also standard, but the Veracruz has no option for blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, or some of the other high-tech features that have infiltrated the competition. A rearview camera is an option, built into a new navigation system, but it's only offered on the Limited model.
2012 Hyundai Veracruz
Full of features in base trim, the 2012 Hyundai Veracruz doesn't have some of the latest infotainment features found on other crossovers.
Infotainment is where the action is, when it comes to standard and optional features. It's a tussle the Hyundai Veracruz is mostly steering clear of, now that it's in its last year or two on sale.
In basic trim, the Veracruz is actually pretty well equipped. A Veracruz GLS comes with standard features like dual-zone climate control; a tilt/telescoping steering wheel; a power driver seat; keyless entry; power windows, locks and mirrors; an AM/FM/CD/XM stereo; a rear washer/wiper; and a third-row seat, which used to be an option. To this model, buyers can add on a Premium trim package that bundles in a power tailgate; a sunroof; auto-dimming rearview mirror; and a universal garage door remote.
For those wanting more luxury in their family crossover, there's the Veracruz Limited. It has all the features of the GLS, plus leather upholstery; automatic climate control; a power front passenger seat; a CD changer and a USB port; 18-inch wheels; power tilt/telescoping steering; a 115-volt power outlet; and a conversation mirror, which tips down so drivers can see just what's going on back there, in the second and third rows.
Hyundai sells a navigation system on the Veracruz Limited. The optional LG system takes the place of the CD changer and USB port, not a happy tradeoff for some buyers. A Bluetooth connection is a port-installed option, which means it doesn't have the neat integration with audio systems that a factory system would have--so test it out to see if it meets your needs.
New this year is an Alpine audio system with satellite and HD radio, streaming radio via Pandora and Bluetooth, a rearview camera, DVD playback and touchscreen navigation--but it's only available on the Limited model. Off the menu entirely are features like in-car Wifi and telematics, which are found on vehicles like the Ford Flex and Explorer, and Dodge Durango.
2012 Hyundai Veracruz
Gas mileage lags in the not-so-big Veracruz: it's less efficient than some bigger seven-seat crossovers.
The 2012 Hyundai Veracruz is only available with one powertrain, and an option for all-wheel drive. While it makes the trip to the dealer an easy one, it doesn't help the Veracruz overcome mediocre gas mileage, since there are no options for more efficient driving.
The EPA's gas-mileage ratings for the Veracruz carry over into the 2012 model year, at 17/22 mpg for the front-drive model, and 16/22 mpg for the all-wheel-drive edition.
Compared to other seven-seat crossovers like the Ford Explorer, the Veracruz falls behind by at least a few miles per gallon on the highway cycle. With the four-cylinder Toyota Highlander, rated at up to 20/25 mpg, the difference is even more stark.