Review: 2007 Hyundai Veracruz
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Hyundai has done it—moved across the $25,000 starting retail price level for a new vehicle.
The brand that for years was known in the United States for its low-priced vehicles and industry-leading warranty coverage now has a new model that's priced upwards of $26,000.
It's the 2007 Veracruz crossover sport-utility vehicle that joins nearly a half dozen other new crossovers in the market during the 2007 model year.
With standard three-row seating, comfortable ride and handling, rich styling and amenities and healthy 260-horsepower V6, a two-wheel-drive Veracruz starts at a surprising $26,000-plus.
With all-wheel drive added in, the starting manufacturer's suggested retail price for a Veracruz is $28,000-plus. And my test vehicle—a Limited model with options—topped out at more than $38,000!
The previous most expensive Hyundai—the 2007 Azera sedan with luxury appointments—has a starting retail price of less than $25,000.
Like officials at other car companies, Hyundai product planners see potential in the growing crossover SUV segment, where buyers are expected to be willing to pay amply for the latest trendy vehicle.
A crossover combines a car-like ride with a higher-than-a-car ride height and eminently flexible interior. Crossovers, especially those with three rows of seats inside, are becoming popular family vehicles.
The back two rows of seats in the Veracruz, for example, can be folded down and out of the way to provide 86.8 cubic feet of cargo space.
And to be honest, the Veracruz is priced competitively with the likes of the 2007 Honda Pilot, which starts at more than $27,000 for a two-wheel-drive LX with 244-horsepower V6, and the 2007 GMC Acadia, which starts at more than $29,000 for a two-wheel-drive SLE with 275-horsepower V6.
The Veracruz rides on a platform that's longer and wider than Hyundai's Santa Fe SUV. But the personality of the Veracruz is more refined than that of a Santa Fe.
The interior of the test vehicle was surprisingly quiet, almost like that of a Lexus, and while the Veracruz felt well-planted to the pavement, the ride was compliant and pleasant—not busy or harsh, even in the tester with uplevel, 18-inch tires.
In fact, the test Veracruz clung to off-camber, downhill curves with tenacity and passengers didn't feel unsettling, abrupt body sway. Rather, the Veracruz body structure seemed well-controlled and weight shifted predictably to give the driver confident handling.
And the turning circle of 36.7 feet was surprisingly tidy for a vehicle this sizable.
One engine only
It's the same engine that's in the Azera and Hyundai's Entourage minivan and needs only regular gasoline.
Torque peaks at 257 lb-ft at 4500 rpm, which is more than the 240 lb-ft at 4500 rpm in the 244-horsepower Pilot.
At 18 miles a gallon in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway for a two-wheel-drive Veracruz, this Hyundai's 2007 government fuel economy rating was even a tad higher than that for the Pilot.
Odds and ends
And the Veracruz earned the top rating—five out of five stars—in the federal government's front and side crash testing.
There was nary any vibration or nuisance sounds in the Veracruz drive. In fact, Hyundai officials said the Veracruz's noise and vibration measurements, in decibels, are lower than the Pilot's.
Hyundai uses active engine mounts under the hood that change from soft to firm to manage engine idle vibrations at idle as well as on the highway.
Another expensive component in the Veracruz is a new, 6-speed automatic transmission—a first for a Hyundai. It shifted with impressive smoothness in the test Veracruz, even when I manually shifted via the Shiftronic, no-clutch-pedal mechanism. Note that this shift-it-yourself ability isn't offered in some other crossovers, such as GMC's Acadia.
I kept listening for wind noise in the Veracruz, especially at highway speeds. But there was little of it, and there was little road noise from the tires.
All this, plus the nicely appointed interior, conveyed a luxurious sense inside the Veracruz. Standard equipment on all models includes air conditioning with controls for rear-seat passengers, steering-wheel-mounted controls for the audio system and cruise control, a dual exhaust, and audio system with MP3 and XM satellite radio capability that comes with free, three-month XM radio service.
But there also are new features never associated with a Hyundai before. These include optional key-free vehicle access, power adjustable pedals and a 115-volt power outlet.
Still, a navigation system still wasn't offered in the early Veracruz models. Hyundai officials said they were still working on that feature.
Last, but not least, is the Hyundai warranty, which leads the industry.
Bumper-to-bumper, limited coverage lasts for five years/60,000 miles, whichever comes first, while limited powertrain coverages goes for 10 years/100,000 miles.
Maximum towing capacity for the Veracruz is 3,500 pounds.