Veracruz could be another big hit
The hard-working team at Hyundai would be quite flattered if it found out you were comparison-shopping the Korean automaker’s 2007 Veracruz crossover wagon against the Lexus RX350.
That’s unlikely but there is good news, though. Because, while the Veracruz targeted the RX350 during its development, its real-life mission is to take on the likes of the Honda Pilot, Toyota’s Highlander and GM’s new family of crossovers such as the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook. For them, the Veracruz will be a formidable foe.
The ‘Cruz shares its basic platform with Hyundai’s Santa Fe, but has been stretched and widen for true seven-passenger capacity. Offered in two models, the $39,995 GLS and the $46,295 Limited, it marks the company’s first step into upper-class crossover country.
But the value card is still played heavily here; a ‘stock’ GLS gets standard equipment that includes V6 power, all-wheel-drive, a six-speaker stereo, tilt/telescopic steering with audio and cruise controls, heated mirrors, leather seats, dual-zone climate control, a moonroof, 18-inch alloy wheels wearing 245/60R18 tires, and a back-up warning system.
On the cosmetic front, the Veracruz bears more than a passing resemblance to its $50,000+ Lexus target. As expected of modern Hyundai’s, build quality is rewardingly high all round. And the Veracruz drives very much like the RX350 it’s modeled after.
As you might expect, there’s no highway ramp athleticism here, just effortless steering and a suspension tuned for comfortable touring.
Fittingly, its 260 horsepower, 3.8-litre V6 has been sourced from Hyundai’s flagship Azera sedan. And Hyundai has bolted in its first six-speed automatic transmission, complete with a manual shift mode for added driver control if desired. The result is sufficient performance and decent fuel economy for a seven-seater.
The Veracruz’s interior also gets high marks for style and functionality as well as fit and finish. Insulated by four layers of carpet padding and double seals around the doors, it’s quieter inside than an RX350 or Volvo’s XC90.
First and second-row seating is plenty spacious, with the latter slidg to give 19 cm (7.5 in) of fore/aft travel. Even the third-row seats are roomy enough for full-size adults in a pinch, with access granted by a single lever on the second-row chairs.
Hyundai says the interior has greater volume than anything in its class and more cargo room than a Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, even though the Veracruz is 246 mm (almost 10 inches) shorter.
On the safety front, the Veracruz is fitted with disc brakes front and rear, backed by standard ABS, EBD, ESP and TCS with rollover protection. There’s also six airbags inside, including roof-mounted side curtains for all three rows of seating.
The Veracruz is a big step for Hyundai, figuratively as well as literally.
While it may seem a bit pricey it’s worth every penny when compared with its mainstream competition.