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Hyundai Veracruz, 2008: Weidel on Wheels

Hyundai Veracruz, 2008: Weidel on Wheels 1The 2008 Hyundai Veracruz falls short, but the South Korean manufacturer has set lofty goals and made significant progress in its attempt to compete with Toyota, Honda and even premium Lexus.

That’s ambitious goal for a company that once produced cheap, unreliable economy cars that were the industry jokes. But those days are past; Hyundai now earns respect for nearly every vehicle it produces.

Certainly it’s true with the Veracruz, a seven-passenger crossover SUV that receives high marks in practically every auto publication. There’s much to like about this well-equipped family vehicle. It combines solid looks, good performance, versatility, safety and a reasonably priced base model.

Still, let’s not get carried away. Hyundai’s goal when the Veracruz debuted in 2007 was challenging the stylish, high performance Lexus RX, which ranks near the top of the luxury SUV. Comparing the Veracruz to a Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander is more realistic.

Hyundai Veracruz, 2008: Weidel on Wheels 2

But it’s important to note the all-wheel drive Veracruz is the largest and most expensive vehicle Hyundai has ever sold in North America. And so the manufacturer continues to raise the bar.

A recent week test-driving the 2008 Veracruz Limited was a pleasure. Mostly unchanged from the original model, Hyundai rolled some optional equipment into standard fare for the Limited Edition Veracruz, hiking the price to $35,750. Yet the base model still has plenty of standard features, and the sticker price is $26,900.

Despite the price variance, the base model shares the same engine with every Veracruz. It’s responsive 3.8-liter, V6 with 260 horsepower and six-speed automatic transmission. There are quicker SUVs, but going 0-60 mph in 8.3 seconds is more than acceptable for a mid-size SUV.

While offering commendable power, the Veracruz also receives a good handling rating. The ride possesses car-like qualities and is very quiet, while also offering responsive braking. Standard antilock brakes, stability and traction control enhance the safety factor.

The interior deserves high praise. The overall design is smart and efficient, unlike cluttered, confusing cabins offered by lesser rivals. The Veracruz is made with many soft-touch materials and features attractive metal accents and faux wood. Blue lighting on the dash adds to the appeal.

Comfort is generally good, with extra seat padding allowing for more pleasurable long-distance trips. Beware that some riders might find the from head room lacking, but that’s not the case in the roomy second row. The third row is typical of many mid-size SUVS — it’s better left to children. The cargo space is limited with the third row in place, but flip it down and the storage area opens up.

FAST FACTS: 2008 Hyundai Veracruz

Power — 3.8-liter, V6, 260 horsepower; Mileage Estimates — 16 mpg (ciity) 23 mpg (highway); Standard Features — Rear defogger, steering wheel w/radio controls, center console, keyless entry, rear privacy glass, power windows, doors, mirrors; CD/MP3 player, satellite radio; outside temperature gauge, tire pressure monitor; Warranty — Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Bumper-to-bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion 7 years/unlimited miles; Free roadside assistance, 5 years/unlimited miles; Price — $26,900 (base model).

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