• Apr 27th 2007 at 1:47PM
  • 50
Click on the Veracruz for a high-res gallery from our first drive

Back in January at the Detroit Auto Show, Hyundai finally peeled the camo off its newest product, the Veracruz. The Veracruz is aimed right at the heart of the increasingly popular mid-sized crossover segment that includes such perennial best sellers as the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander and new entries like the Saturn Outlook and Ford Edge. Hyundai identifies the Honda and Toyota entries as their main competitors, but interestingly neither was their primary benchmark. That honor falls to the Lexus RX350. More on that in a bit.

Hyundai invited a group of automotive media to a park in northern Oakland County north of Chrysler's headquarters for a first drive of the new Veracruz. We set out on a cool rainy morning in a fleet of new vehicles in various trim levels and front- and all-wheel drive configurations. We only had about an hour and a half to drive, so this was strictly a first impression.

A full review will be coming in the next few weeks but you can find Autoblog's preliminary look at the Veracruz after the jump.

Before we got to hit the road in the biggest Korean CUV to date, Hyundai's Miles Johnson and Product Planning Manager Mike Mino gave us some background on the company's recent history and design goals for the Veracruz. The biggest problem with using existing vehicles as benchmarks to design a car is that anything on the market was designed at least 4-5 years before and the carmakers are already well on their way to the next generation. Hyundai tackled this problem by using a vehicle one level up as the benchmark for the market they wanted to compete in. So while they wanted to compete with the Pilot and Highlander, they claim to have used the RX350 as their benchmark.

The result is a vehicle that is generally better equipped and yet still priced lower than it's direct competitors, a typical Hyundai move. The test vehicle we drove was a high-end Limited model with most of the goodies like a sunroof, dual-zone climate controls and a leather interior. The look and finish of the interior was top notch with soft touch surfaces and well located controls. Like the latest Chrysler small and mid-sized cars, chilled air from the A/C system is ducted through the center console compartment to keep drinks cool.

The front seats were comfortable and felt reasonably supportive over the relatively short drive. The second- and third-row seats, on the other hand, are pretty flat. The second-row bench can slide fore and aft providing plenty of leg room for three passengers, though. The rear door openings are large and access to the third row is fairly easy. Even with the middle row pushed all the way back, my knees didn't touch the seat backs from the back row, which is a minor miracle.

On the road, the 3.8L V-6 moves the 4,300 lb. wagon without seeming to run short of breath. The six-speed automatic shifts imperceptibly and kicks down quickly and smoothly when you put your foot in it. The ride was well controlled with no wallowing over a number of different surfaces and body roll never got out of hand, although it was never really pushed too hard. The steering was nicely weighted with no center slop. The only major flaw that cropped up on our rainy day ride occurred during a full throttle lunch launch at an intersection. On the uneven road surface with intermittent puddles, the traction control seemed to loose its way and started to oscillate applying the brakes back and forth across the front axle generating some very nasty wheel hop. Several later launch attempts on wet pavement, gravel and a split didn't reproduce the shuddering, however.

A decade ago driving a mid-size to large SUV was usually a very unpleasant experience for a typical car lover. They were always based on trucks with terrible handling and ride, sloppy steering that was all over the road and mushy, weak brakes. Sport utilities and crossovers have come a long way in the intervening period and overall the Veracruz was a pleasant ride and very livable. Hopefully in the very near future, we'll be able to give you a better picture of what it's like to live with a Veracruz on a day-to-day basis. In the meantime, if you can't wait, the Veracruz is available now starting at $27,000 and ranging into the upper thirties for the loaded Limited models.

Autoblog accepts vehicle loans from auto manufacturers with a tank of gas and sometimes insurance for the purpose of evaluation and editorial content. Like most of the auto news industry, we also sometimes accept travel, lodging and event access for vehicle drive and news coverage opportunities. Our opinions and criticism remain our own – we do not accept sponsored editorial.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think my fav comment was about the 4800lb SUV with fuel and family of 4 weighing 6000lbs. If you, your wife and 2 brats average 250lbs each youre pathetic. Lose some weight fatty. 1000lb family? Try 500lb for 2 adults 2 kids, tops. Absolutely ridiculous.
      On the car at hand, big deal, another Suv averaging less than 20mpg. Remember when a family of 4 was good with a midsize sedan?
      • 8 Years Ago

      I think they call it humor.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Oh my goodness...what was life like before GPS. GPS is not the deciding factor on whether a car is competitive or not.

      I sat in a Vercruz at the auto show and the leather seating was top-notch...not the grainy vinyl kind you normally see in mid-20k to low 30 price range.

      They will be offering GPS by fall or spring.

      Yes the GMC Acadia is nice but overweight. It would have been better if they put a detuned LS3 engine in the rig for the torque to pull that heft. Yet still a very nice vehicle.
      • 8 Years Ago
      saw it in person at berkeley with one driving in front of me for while. not bad looking, but the rear really made me think that it was a new minivan at first perhaps due to the roundness and dimension. then i saw the vera cruz label and saw the rest of the car. not bad. kind of nice. like a bigger version of santa fe. excellent fit and finish. essentially lexus like. job well done.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I actually saw one of those yesterday evening parked at the mall so I took time to look around in and out... was pretty impressive. The front IS a big weird but the rear is very impressive. Interior quality was also pretty good. I test drove an Azera last year wich uses the same engine and the only downer was the 5 speed automatic that didn't deccelerate fast enough but this is gone now... All and all a good SUV/CUV/call it whathever the hell you want.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Gee.... I wonder if Hyundai and Kia are still the most popular brands in the MBB lanes at Manheim Auctions. They were just a couple years ago.

      MBB stands for Manufacturer Buy Back, cars that were purchased back from consumers who exercised their rights under state Lemon Law regulations. I've been to a few dealer auctions and have seen more Hyundai and Kia vehicles go thru them than any other brand.

      I get a laugh out of people stating, "Lexus quality at a Hyundai price" and comparing Hyundai to Infiniti and Acura. Those brands have PROVEN they're reliable and well made over the past 15-20 years. Their track records for quality are verifiable and accepted throughout the automotive world. Is Hyundai on the same level? Good God... hardly! They haven't proven a thing except that they seem to be getting better (it would have been hard to get worse).

      I do find it ironic that people will happily give Hyundai and Kia a pass on quality and design when they clearly have not earned it, while at the same time lambasting the domestic brands for making lousy cars 10 years ago ("I had a '96 Achieva and it numerous problems...") or spewing hate and vitriol like a ranting lunatic ("die Ford die").

      Hyundai's track record over the past 10-15 years is nothing to crow about and certainly does not trump the track record of certain domestic brands. Comparing Hyundai to Lexus or Infiniti is ridiculous in the extreme. Maybe we can compare the Korean brands to establish mfrs like Toyota and Honda if they can put together 20 years of solid, well built product. So far I'm not impressed - my neighbor's '06 Sonata has spent almost as much time at the dealer as it has on his driveway. A/C problems, electrical gremlins, paint and finish flaws.... hardly the mark of a quality car. My GM truck has spent a whoppin' 1 day at the dealer in the past 3+ years.

      And for the record, I think the Veracruz is nice looking inside and out. Certainly worth a test drive and a close look.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Did you really just compare a 1996 Achieva (Skylark, Grand Am, Cutlass) with GM's new lambda? You must ride the short bus."

      Did you just compare a Hyundai Stellar with a current Hyundai?
      • 8 Years Ago
      An AWD Enclave CXL with all options except nav is $42k. An AWD Veracruz Limited with all the options is $37. The only difference is HID between the two.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Felipe: ignorance is bliss, right?
      • 8 Years Ago

      Sorry, my bad.
      • 8 Years Ago
      nice looking go hyundai

      i think you full with heatres
      • 8 Years Ago
      Nice but you're not going to play with Lexus or even Honda or Toyota till you can offer an integrated nav system.
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