Full 2008 Hyundai Veracruz Review
What's New for 2008
An all-new model last year, the Hyundai Veracruz receives previously optional equipment as standard on the Limited model. A power tailgate and a 115-volt outlet are now available on the SE model, while a Hyundai-first navigation system is now an option on the Limited.
The 2008 Veracruz is the largest and most expensive vehicle Hyundai has ever sold in North America -- and it might be its best yet. All-new last year, this seven-passenger crossover goes up against impressive new models like the Toyota Highlander. Perhaps even more surprising, the luxury-trimmed Limited model has enough niceties to legitimately be considered an alternative to models from upscale brands like Acura and Lexus. By adding even more standard equipment for 2008 and including Hyundai's first optional navigation system, the Veracruz is one Hyundai that's not only meeting the bar, it's raising it.
While the Veracruz's exterior styling looks awkward from certain angles, opening up a door to the interior reveals a handsome design and very impressive quality. Rich-looking soft-touch materials are found throughout the cabin, highlighted by tasteful faux wood and metal accents. Cool blue dash lighting and available two-tone leather add a hip touch. In a seven-passenger crossover SUV, comfort and space are of paramount importance, and the Veracruz delivers a lot of both despite not being as big as some others in its class.
Whether you're a value or luxury buyer -- or something in between -- the 2008 Hyundai Veracruz is a very impressive vehicle that does just about everything right. Priced at around $26,000, the well-equipped base GLS trim level is less expensive than practically all of its competition and still offers that lengthy Hyundai warranty. At the same time, the range-topping Limited model matches the feature content and build quality of seven-passenger luxury crossovers that cost thousands more. Its competitors are too good for us to declare the Veracruz the class leader, but it's hard to imagine being disappointed by this biggest and arguably best Hyundai yet.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Hyundai Veracruz is a seven-passenger large crossover SUV available in three trim levels. The entry-level GLS features 17-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-telescoping steering column, cloth upholstery, rear climate controls, a trip computer and a single-CD/MP3 player with satellite radio. The optional GLS Premium package adds a sunroof, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and rear parking assist.
The midlevel SE trim is pretty similar to the GLS, with 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a cooled center console being the major upgrades. The SE Premium & Leather Package includes the GLS Premium package's equipment plus a power tailgate, leather upholstery and an eight-speaker Infinity audio system with in-dash CD changer and satellite radio.
The Limited trim level includes all of the above equipment and adds driver memory settings, a power steering column, adjustable pedals, a power passenger seat, rain-sensing wipers and dual-zone automatic climate control. Available only on the Limited, the Navigation package adds a touchscreen navigation system and a 10-speaker Infinity Logic 7 surround-sound system. A rear-seat entertainment system that also includes the Logic 7 sound system is available on the SE and Limited. Bluetooth is a stand-alone option on all trim levels.
Powertrains and Performance
All 2008 Hyundai Veracruz models are powered by a 3.8-liter V6 that produces 260 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the standard transmission, while all trim levels can be equipped with either front- or all-wheel drive. In performance testing, the Veracruz went from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, which is average for vehicles in the class. Fuel economy is also on par, with 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway EPA estimates for the front-wheel-drive model, while the all-wheel-drive model gets 1 mpg less in both driving conditions.
Each Veracruz trim level comes with the same excellent menu of safety features. Standard are antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, three-row 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 front-offset 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 2008 Hyundai Veracruz offers one of the finest interiors -- whether in base trim or the luxury-lined Limited. The overall design is handsome and quality of materials is superb, although the center stack is a little button-heavy. A touchscreen navigation system by LG debuts as an option on the Limited this year, and incorporates some audio controls. When fully loaded, the Veracruz comes tantalizingly close to matching the interior craftsmanship found in the Acura MDX and Lexus RX 350.
Space and comfort are also excellent, with ample passenger room throughout. The third row isn't quite as spacious as that of the Mazda CX-9 or GM's full-size crossover triplets (specifically regarding headroom), but there's still enough room for an average-sized adult on short journeys and you won't need a spine made out of Nerf for entry and exit. Cargo capacity also trails those two competitors, but is still sizable, with 40 cubic feet behind the second row and 86.8 cubic feet with both rows folded flat.
With Lexus keenly in its sights, Hyundai tuned the Veracruz to be a serene boulevard and highway cruiser. The ride is supple and very quiet, and the handling predictable despite the steering being noticeably inert. Acceleration is about average for vehicles in this class, and the six-speed auto provides smooth gearchanges up and down the power band, though, as we've noticed with other V6-powered crossovers, it can be slow to downshift. The brakes perform reasonably well, though in testing we noticed some brake fade after multiple hard stops.
Read our Hyundai Veracruz Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test