2007 Hyundai Veracruz Limited – Short Take Road Tests
A really big bang for the bucks.
|The Highs: Silent, smooth; great
cargo capacity; plenty of “free”
|The Lows: Too much body roll,
slightly numb steering, obstructionist
Like the Tucson and Santa Fe before it, Hyundai’s third crossover SUVand easily its largestis named after a sunny tourist destination. In this case, the Mexican state of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico, a region renowned for umbrella drinks and for depleting the wallets of bleary-eyed Americans.
If the Veracruz likewise depletes U.S. wallets, it won’t be by much. The base front-drive GLS begins at $26,995; five trim levels later, this Hyundai tops out at $34,695. All ride on a stretched Santa Fe platform; all are powered by the 260-horse, 3.8-liter V-6 found in the Azera sedan; all come with a third-row seat; and all include an Aisin six-speed automatic, Hyundai’s first.
The Veracruz is aimed squarely at the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, although its wheelbase and length are longer. It will also become a thorn in the sides of the Mitsubishi Endeavor, Suzuki XL7, and Subaru B9 Tribeca.
Our front-drive Limited test sample ($33,120) arrived with an alluring load of standard-equipment creature comforts: leather, an A/C-cooled center console, a sunroof, a tilting-and-telescoping wheel, a power liftgate, backup radar, a 315-watt Infinity stereo, stability control, and more.
Inside and out, the Veracruz emits a strong whiff of Lexus RX350not a bad SUV to copy. Even the center stack, with its zillion buttons and switches, is Lexus-like. Three rotary HVAC controls would have simplified matters, but Americans nowadays equate complexity with luxury.
All of the Veracruz’s interior surfaces equal or exceed the finish of those in the Pilot or Highlander, apart from the cheesy “brushed aluminum” plastic on the steering-wheel spokes and center console. The front seats are firm and multi-hour comfortable, although the cushions could use more bolstering.
Fire up the Veracruz and what you notice first is what you don’t notice. There’s minimal road noise or engine noise, and the exhaust is as mute as Harpo. At both idle and WOT, the Veracruz is quieter than the Pilot or Highlander. Even the turn-signal stalk’s clicks are subdued.
Similarly Lexus-ish is throttle tip-ingentle, gradual, almost lazy. Disable the stability control and you can churn the front Michelins for four feet at step-off. In the sprint to 60 mph, the Veracruz is 0.2 second behind the Pilot but 0.3 second ahead of a V-6 Highlander. Full-throttle upshifts are supremely smooth, and the V-6 evinces no peaks or valleys as it pulls to its 6500-rpm redline. Torque steer manifests only when you combine major throttle with a 90-degree turn. The standard-equipment manumatic proved so adept at matching revs on downshifts that we batted at it regularly on our handling loop. It still feels counterintuitive, however, to pull back for downshifts and push forward for upshifts.
Body roll is more pronounced than we’d like, but the upshot is a cushy ride.
2007 Hyundai Veracruz Limited – Specs
Except for a low seat cushion, the split middle bench is a gemroomy for three and adjustable fore-and-aft by five inches. Yank one lever and the middle seat pivots forward to afford access to the third row, where a pair of adults can ride without complaint for, well, 20 minutes. With both rows folded flat, usable floor space measures about six feet deep and 45 inches widein total, an excellent 87 cubic feet, sufficient to swallow a bicycle whole.
Our beefs were few. The foot-operated parking brake hangs so low it sometimes rubs your shin. Rear visibility is diminished by the fat D-pillars. Although the speed-sensitive steering tracks like a champ and is nicely weighted, it doesn’t transmit much info about road textures, and your first warning of understeer is the stability control, which is aggressive about pulling out engine spark. At least you can turn it off. The underlying platform feels satisfactorily solid until you begin bouncing along muddy two-tracks, where our confidence would have been bolstered by the optional all-wheel drive ($1700).
Off the freeway, the Veracruz isn’t quite as engaging as the Pilot or Highlander, which are a titch more visceral, more hard-wired to the driver’s inputs. But the Hyundai’s ride, extra measure of isolation, and myriad standard features will be construed by many as a bonus layer of luxury. In fact, the Veracruz represents so much bang for the buck that Hyundai would do well to ditch its old flying-H logo, which still carries the “it’s all I could afford” stigma.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 5-door wagon
PRICE AS TESTED: $33,120 (base price: $32,995)
ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 231 cu in, 3778cc
Power (SAE net): 260 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 257 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with manumatic shifting
Wheelbase: 110.4 in
Length: 190.6 in
Width: 76.6 in
Height: 68.9 in
Curb weight: 4470 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 7.8 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 21.1 sec
Street start, 5-60 mph: 8.2 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 16.1 sec @ 89 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 122 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 185 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.77 g
EPA city driving: 18 mpg
C/D-observed: 17 mpg
BY JOHN PHILLIPS, PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFFREY G. RUSSELL
Car & Driver