Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hyundai Veracruz 2011 fails to close the luxury gap in the crossover market

Conservative to a fault, the 2011 Hyundai Veracruz crossover represents the point on the age/value equation that the Toyota Highlander had just a few years ago.


It’s undeniably handsome, if a bit anonymous, but the Veracruz has an interior that’s built almost to Lexus standards for feel and look. It’s also a spacious place, at least in the front rows; the third row seat’s as proportionally small as the Veracruz is to the bigger crossovers with seven seats (Highlander, Flex and Traverse), and so is the space available when all three rows are taken.

It’s awaiting some safety scores, and in its fifth year on the market the Veracruz still awaits factory-installed Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera option, and any or all of the high-tech features that define the Flex and now other crossovers, like the Dodge Journey and Durango.
Still, it’s a roomy vehicle that’s well equipped for its price. If you like the slightly luxurious look, the 2011 Hyundai Veracruz will certainly help you project a luxury image on a leaner budget.
What’s New for 2011
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Veracruz Limited includes the content of the Premium package and adds 18-inch wheels, driver memory functions, leather upholstery, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a four-way power passenger seat, a 115-volt household-style power outlet and an eight-speaker Infinity stereo with a six-CD changer. The Navigation package (available only with the Limited trim) adds a navigation system and a 10-speaker Infinity surround-sound audio system. Bluetooth is a stand-alone option on both Veracruz trims.
The 2011 Hyundai Veracruz is a seven-passenger crossover SUV available in GLS and Limited trim levels. The GLS comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, foglights, automatic headlights, rear parking sensors, cruise control, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats (on all-wheel-drive models only), a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, rear climate controls and vents, and a six-speaker stereo with CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface. The Premium package adds a sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, a windshield de-icer, a power liftgate and heated front seats (for the front-wheel-drive model).
Powertrains and Performance

The 2011 Hyundai Veracruz can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive, and is powered by a 3.8-liter V6 that produces 260 hp and 257 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the standard transmission.
In Edmunds performance testing, a Veracruz AWD went from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, which is average for vehicles in this class. EPA fuel economy estimates are 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined for the front-drive model and 16/21/18 for the all-wheel-drive model.
Safety
Each Veracruz trim level comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.
In crash testing conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Veracruz performed very well, earning five out of five stars in all frontal and side collision categories. In frontal-offset and side-impact crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Veracruz did equally well, earning the highest score of “Good.”
Interior Design and Special Features
Despite being one of the value leaders in its class, the 2011 Hyundai Veracruz offers one of the finest interiors, whether in base trim or the luxury-lined Limited. The overall design is handsome and the quality of materials is superb.
Controls are relatively well marked and easy to use. Space and comfort are also high points, although the third row is significantly less spacious than those of the Chevy Traverse, Ford Flex and Mazda CX-9. Maximum cargo capacity is similarly on the low side compared to the CX-9 and Traverse, though its 87 cubic feet will be plenty for most consumers.
Driving Impressions

The 2011 Hyundai Veracruz is a serene boulevard and highway cruiser. Its ride is quiet and supple, though on rough roads the Veracruz isn’t quite as smooth as other vehicles in its class. When going around corners, its handling is predictable despite the quick steering being noticeably inert. Power from the V6 engine is suitable for most situations and the six-speed auto shifts smoothly, though it can occasionally be hesitant to downshift. Overall, the Veracruz drives adequately but does little to leave any lasting impressions.
the Auto Press Says:
“Equip the Veracruz properly, and it has the mojo to compete with the higher-priced vehicle. It doesn’t yet match the Lexus’s overall levels of polish, but it’s darn close, which makes it very nice indeed, measured against most other offerings.” – Motor Trend
“Thanks to its tremendous value, comfortable driving demeanor and high-class interior, the 2011 Hyundai Veracruz is one of the better choices for a midsize or large crossover SUV.” – Edmunds
“The Veracruz fails to close the luxury gap in the crossover market in the same way the 2006 Azera did in the sedan sector. That car feels luxurious at a modest price. The Veracruz is just a photocopy of a photocopy.” – Detroit News
“If you want a loaded-up, smooth-riding midsize family SUV, it’s hard to find one at a better price than the Veracruz.” – Business Week


The 2011 Hyundai Veracruz is unchanged from the 2010 model, save for some package and option updates. The Premium package no longer includes a navigation system and premium stereo, and as a result, these features are no longer available on base GLS models. Also, a factory-installed rear-seat DVD entertainment system is no longer available on the Veracruz.
Introduction
It’s no accident that Hyundai’s market share is on the rise in these recessionary times. When purse strings get tight, shoppers go in search of value, and value is one thing that Hyundai knows how to deliver. The 2011 Hyundai Veracruz lives up to its manufacturer’s track record in this respect — it’s a pleasant, reasonably upscale, midsize crossover SUV offered at an appealingly economical price.
True, the Veracruz does lag behind the state of the art when it comes to crossovers in a few areas. It’s now one of the older midsize crossovers on the market, and redesigned models like the Dodge Durango and Ford Explorer outdo the Hyundai in terms of styling (the Dodge) or innovative and useful high-tech features (the Ford). Cargo capacity and rear seat room are additional concerns, as the Veracruz typically trails admittedly larger crossovers like the Chevrolet Traverse, Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander in these areas.
The 2011 Hyundai Veracruz steps into the ring armed with attributes more commonly associated with entry-level luxury models than a model built to a price point. Its ride quality remains composed in most circumstances, and its 260-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 is up for whatever task comes its way. With its relatively low levels of wind and road noise, the Veracruz also boasts one of the most serene cabins in its segment. And although its exterior styling is rather generic, the Veracruz does boast an upscale interior, with great build quality and nice touches like wood trim and an available two-tone color scheme to provide visual panache. The deal is further sweetened by the Veracruz’s long warranty and lengthy list of standard features.
While the 2011 Hyundai Veracruz might not be the best choice for all drivers, it’s hard to argue with this crossover’s generous warranty, ample standard features list and low price. The Veracruz is a must-see for shoppers on a quest to get the most for less.

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