Monday, June 30, 2008

Hyundai Adds Luxury Features to Veracruz


Hyundai debuted its then all-new premium mid-size crossover utility vehicle, the Veracruz last year. In the past, I haven't been terribly impressed with Korean attempts to penetrate the luxury market. Some may recall my rather unflattering review of the Kia Amanti. So, my expectations weren't exactly stratospheric about the Veracruz. For 2008, the Veracruz gets a number of new luxury features, including navigation, memory for the driver's seat and mirrors, rain sensing wipers, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and several others. This is all aimed at enticing buyers who would otherwise be considering upscale crossovers like the Acura MDX, Subaru Tribeca, Mazda CX9, and Nissan Murano, to name a few.


The Veracruz is powered by a supple and smooth 3.8-liter V6. I can’t say enough about how impressed I am with the engine/ tranny combination. Without question, this is an area that separates the men from the boys. This might also be the area where the Veracruz shines most brightly. Not only does its 260 horsepower come on swiftly, but up-shifts occur so smoothly as to almost go unnoticed.


While I would never compare the Veracruz to a BMW or a Lexus in terms of cornering agility and responsiveness, the Hyundai is still pretty darn good. Frankly, I doubt if many would ever drive a mid-size crossover to its cornering limits anyway. Those driving under normal conditions should be especially pleased with ride quality. Additionally, AWD is available in all three trim levels. So, budget shouldn’t interfere with inclement weather motoring.


Walking around the Veracruz, I found that its exterior does a pretty good impression of a luxury crossover. In fact, it bears some resemblance to a Lexus RX 350, especially the rear three-quarter view. However, the front fascia cannot be mistaken for anything but a Hyundai. It features a prominent “flying H” logo centered under a wide grill. Its oversized wraparound headlamps also draw attention to the front end. With the addition of the new luxury features for 2008, the Veracruz offers everything you would expect to see in any luxury crossover. One interesting twist which is sure to draw both raves and disgust is optional two- toned brown over black interior, as was the case with my tester. While I think it looks quite sharp, it is sure to be a love/ hate look for many.


I think that the new Veracruz should be on your short list of premium midsize crossovers. Take away the Hyundai badging, and you would think that this was a far more expensive vehicle.

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