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Avg. Price Paid:$11,165 - $15,145
Original MSRP: $27,045 - $35,895
MPG: 16 City / 23 Hwy
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2008 Hyundai Veracruz Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Hyundai Veracruz was new.

Most test drivers are pleased with the 2008 Hyundai Veracruz's performance as a stable highway cruiser, but many point out that it's not very fun to drive. "Tuned more as a luxury cruiser than an apex clipper, the ... Hyundai Veracruz offers a pleasant drive, if not a sporting one," says Edmunds. "Handling is sure and predictable, and the ride is supple and very quiet."

What really impresses the majority of reviewers is the Veracruz's lack of engine and road noise. Edmunds finds the "minimal levels of noise, vibration and harshness really are quite remarkable." Road and Track adds: "[T]he most notable characteristics of the driveline are quietness and lack of vibration. Helping with the former is carpet that has four layers of padding, whereas the latter is handled in part by semi-active mounts that actually harness engine vacuum to help offset vibration."

But others are less forgiving of the SUV's performance, which the Detroit News calls its "Achilles' heel." The reviewer goes on to note, "Sluggish acceleration and soft handling sap the fun out of driving." BusinessWeek echoes, "The vehicle's main disadvantage is that it isn't much fun to drive." And Newsday compares the Veracruz to less prestigious competition, commenting, "Overboosted steering that provides little feedback to the driver combines with a suspension designed for passenger comfort first, crisp handling second, making the Veracruz handle no better than the Buick Enclave SUV."

BusinessWeek sums up the handling debate, commenting: "The bottom line is that this isn't a driver's SUV like, say, the Acura MDX. Like the Santa Fe, the Veracruz has been heavily focus-grouped. And it has the soft, comfortable ride and easy-steer handling that appeals to suburbanites."

Acceleration and Power

Reviewers have mixed feelings on the Veracruz's engine power. It comes with a 3.8-liter V6 that is shared with the Azera sedan and Entourage minivan. The engine makes 260 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque and is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONICTM manual shift mode.

Though the engine has plenty of horsepower, some test drivers find it sluggish due to the Veracruz's hefty curb weight. "On the road, the Veracruz feels swifter than the heavier Outlook, but not as quick as the CX-9, even though it's slightly lighter than the Mazda," says Cars.com, adding that "like the Outlook, though, you can tell it's a bit burdened by the vehicle's weight." MSN also comments, "Veracruz does not accelerate from a standstill as quickly as we would have expected, given the engine's horsepower rating."

While off-the-line power disappoints some, reviewers find the Veracruz has plenty of spunk once it's underway. "We found the Veracruz to be happiest when the engine is spinning, and we expect it'll make the dash to 60 mph in less than 8.0 seconds," says Edmunds. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel similarly notes, "This one is a little slow away from stoplights but picks up the pace after about 35 mph." The Washington Post finds acceleration "excellent in the flatlands, where the Veracruz easily cruises at highway speeds," but notes the engine "gets a bit wheezy in the mountains." Newsday, on the other hand, calls acceleration "excellent, even on hills."

Fuel economy is a plus for the Veracruz, with New Car Test Drive noting it "leads the primary competition in power without paying any price in the fuel economy race." The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the front-wheel-drive model at 16 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 23 on the highway, and the all-wheel-drive model at 15 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway. The Detroit News finds the fuel economy figures "on par with similar-sized vehicles, which all had smaller engines." In addition, the Veracruz's upscale competitor, the Lexus RX 350, requires premium fuel, prompting the Washington Post to note that "the Veracruz is less expensive to operate than the RX350. But it's every bit as much fun to drive."

Some reviewers point to the Veracruz's six-speed automatic transmission as a contributor to its sometimes-sluggish acceleration. Newsday calls it "a bit lazy to respond to driver commands" and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says that "gearing in the smooth six-speed automatic gearbox isn't quite what I'd expect here to boost speed." But despite any complaints, reviewers consistently refer to the transmission as crisp-shifting (Road and Track) and seamless (Velocity Journal). Motor Trend compares it favorably to the Lexus RX 350's, commenting, "It has one more gear than does the Lexus's, shifts smoother without being mushy, and responds quickly to downshift demands."

Handling and Braking

Test drivers are generally under whelmed by the Veracruz's handling, which many find perfect for highway cruising -- but not much else. "Dynamically, the Veracruz is pretty forgettable, with little in the way of steering feedback and the kind of body control that discourages aggressive direction changes," says Automobile Magazine. "Ride quality is decent enough, but the suspension clunks loudly over bumps and potholes." Consumer Guide similarly says, "With a focus on serene cruising, its handling isn't as responsive as most rivals."

The Veracruz features an independent MacPherson strut front suspension and an independent multi-link rear suspension that Consumer Guide says favors "ride quality over sharp handling response." On the plus side, USA Today finds the suspension "kept body movements in check sufficiently to encourage snappy cornering, yet provided a very smooth ride." The Los Angeles Times appreciates the SUV's "resoundingly stiff chassis," noting, "I've got a steep driveway, and when I parked the vehicle sideways on it -- at an angle sufficient to make a hard-boned Maserati creak -- the Veracruz didn't utter a sound."

But most, like the Chicago Tribune, admit that the suspension "may be user-friendly, but it isn't race-tuned." And some heavily criticize the suspension for lack of refinement: "Drive over a speed bump or freeway expansion crack, and Veracruz reverts from Lexus luxury to Hyundai harshness," complains About.com. "Bumps feel sharp, and road imperfection that the Lexus would soak up are communicated directly into the cabin."

Several test drivers also find fault with the Veracruz's power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, which Edmunds calls "noticeably light and a little vague, especially on center." BusinessWeek similarly says, "The steering feels squishy, and I sensed a fair amount of body roll going around curves." The Detroit News is even less forgiving: "Driving the Veracruz every day on Interstate 75 felt more like piloting a skiff on the Detroit River. Floating over the bumps only made the steering feel looser and more disconnected from the road."

On the other hand, a plus is the SUV's 36.7-foot turning diameter, which prompts Newsday to call it "very easy to handle on the wiggly roads, as well as to park." Kelley Blue Book calls the Veracruz "among the most nimble three-row vehicles in any parking lot, thanks to a turning circle and an overall length similar to a typical mid-size sedan's."

Reviewers also respond positively to the Veracruz's four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist. Consumer Guide finds the brakes have "adequate stopping control and pedal feel" and USA Today says they "felt firm enough to be reassuring." While some say brake pedal is firm, a few reviewers find it lacking. Cars.com calls it "mushy," while Velocity Journal calls it "spongy and numb, with minimal feel."

All-Wheel Drive

The Veracruz comes standard in front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available for all trim levels. The system has no low-range gearing, so it's meant for slick surfaces rather than off-road adventures. Edmunds says, "The AWD version of the Veracruz is hardly an off-road machine, but it seems as if it'll wade through anything you'll find on the pavement without any trouble. When the going gets tough in really slippery stuff, you can engage a button that will lock torque distribution at 50 percent front/50 percent rear for optimum traction." USA Today notes the torque locking feature is unusual among crossover SUVs.

Towing

The Veracruz is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped -- a capacity Edmunds calls "average for this segment" and BusinessWeek says is "plenty for pulling small boats and trailers."

Review Last Updated: 2/18/09

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