The 2008 Hyundai Veracruz was first introduced to the public in October of 2006, and started production in 2007. It is Hyundai’s largest and most luxurious vehicle to date. The seven passenger SUV’s price tag starts at a reasonable $27,000. The price is attractive but very similar to the competition; the acclaimed Mazda CX9 ($29k+) or the newly redesigned Toyota Highlander ($28k+). All Veracruz trims are equipped with the same 260 horsepower V6 engine, matted to a six-speed automatic transmission. Our Veracruz Limited version is loaded with all wheel-drive, leather seats and a navigation system. At an MSRP of $38,000, it is not any cheaper than a loaded Toyota Highlander Limited.
Take the Mazda CX9, the Lexus RX350 and the Buick Enclave, shake them profusely and you will know where the Veracruz came from. Even so, it still manages to include the Hyundai brand identity and feels very close to its smaller sibling, the Santa Fe.
In the front, the Veracruz is rather rounded and slanted, which gives the front-end a sleeker and sportier appearance, much like the Mazda CX9. The sporty vibe is further accentuated with a small chrome grill and headlamps that stretch alongside the fenders.
A large bumper takes up most of the front end. It is accented with a two fog lamps, which are standard on the SE and Limited trims, and only as an option on the GLS trim.
As we walk along the side, we see Veracruz’s overall shape mimicked by a chrome line around the windows. Again very similar to the CX-9, the front end gets wider and taller towards the rear to give more room to accommodate 7 passengers.
The back features large combination taillights, which is standard on the limited, and optional on the SE and GLS trims.
The dual exhaust, nicer than its competition RX350, integrates well into the rear bumper and is distinctively oval.
Overall, the Veracruz presents itself well, as a new contender, in the 7-passenger SUV market. There is no shortage of luxury and attention to details anywhere on this vehicle. In addition to competing with similarly priced vehicles, the Veracruz can easily be compared with more expensive SUVs, such as the Buick Enclave.
The interior is as spacious as you would expect to see in a vehicle of this size. The center stack is slanted and some of the controls are hard reach and difficult to see when exposed to direct sunlight.
Our test vehicle has the optional navigation package, included at an additional cost of $1,750. This package gives you an easy to use touch screen that also controls the 10 speaker Infinity surround sound system. The touch screen, however, is difficult to see and reach as it is located at the top of the center stack.
The instrument cluster is sleek and easy to read, but it falls behind in sophistication when compared to its rival the Toyota Highlander, which features fancy illuminated needles.
Our limited edition features some equipment that are optional for the other trims, such as the leather wrapped (not just a fake leather pattern) 4-way electric steering wheel and the must have electronically adjustable pedals that guarantees a perfect driving position for anyone.
Also standard on the limited edition are leather seats and door trims. The seats are comfortable, however, they can sometime be too wide to provide good lateral support.
Side sills that light up in a warm blue shade are standard on all trims. It is a nice detail that is rarely available on sedans or SUVs under $100k.
Hyundai took into consideration that this indeed a family vehicle, and thus created a fold down rear view mirror to provide a view the younglings in the back seats.
At the rear, the second row passengers will enjoy reasonable legroom and seats that slide and recline. Third row passengers should be able to seat comfortably as well, but legroom is limited for the average sized adults.
The rear passengers can adjust their own temperature settings via two knobs located on the back of the center glove box. This central glove box also acts as a cooler if the vents located at the bottom are opened.
Another important feature that makes this a perfect family car is the amount of storage. This people mover offers numerous storage compartments on the center console, on the center glove box, and many more throughout the vehicle. This should help you stay organized and clutter free.
Overall, the interior feels as luxurious as the exterior. And it doesn’t look or feel cheap either. The materials (plastic and leather) are high quality and all the electrical features you could hope for are included.
It is equipped with an RF entry system that allows detection of your key while still in the pocket/purse. Simply press the little button located on the door handle, and you door will unlock. Get in and turn the ignition knob to start the engine. It is that simple! Engine vibrations are minimized thanks to the electronically controlled motor mount system under the hood. Put the car in drive, and you will realize that Hyundai engineers really aimed for the Lexus RX350 feel. The steering, braking and overall driving sensation offers a very similar Lexus touch. However, we noticed one annoying detail about the steering feedback. For some reason the steering wheel has a very strong tendency to pull back to its center position, as if there was some kind of auto-center feature or something. Past this detail, the drive is very sharp and comfortable. The very high seating position combined with a large windshield offer a great view of the road and contribute to the spacious feel.
The 260 horsepower engine delivers smooth acceleration. At cruising speed, the cabin is very well isolated from external noises but the engine can get a little loud when pushed hard. 0 to 60 times are up to par with the competition at 7.8s compared to 7.3s for the Highlander for example. If you have any doubt about how fast can the Veracruz go, check out this video where the speedometer reads 250kph (155mph)!
Lucky for you, brakes are strong and combined with the four wheel drive system, the Veracruz always provide a sensation of control and security.
Veracruz is Hyundai’s first attempt at a full size 7-passenger SUV and it is already keeping up with the competition. With this vehicle, Hyundai is getting further away from its image of cheap car manufacturer and show skills only demonstrated by more established brands. The competition is nothing less than the award winning Mazda CX9 and newly redesigned Toyota Highlander. Nonetheless, the Veracruz bring a style of its own that will certainly win sales just by the way it looks, and the feeling of driving a bigger car for your money.
If you are shopping for a 7-passenger SUV around $30K, the Hyundai offers a great alternative to the old dogs: Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander. Make sure to test drive the Hyundai Veracruz before making your decision.
Pros Style In/Out
Handling in 4WD version
illuminated door sills
very wide seats
RF key / keyless ignition
large cargo area with (7) seats folding totally flat.
Cons Engine sound
steering wheel, odd center feel
Navigation system to be perfected
limited seats support
instrumentation cluster design a little basic