Full 2009 Hyundai Veracruz Review
What's New for 2009
The Veracruz is a recent addition to the Hyundai lineup so little changes for the 2009 model year. All Veracruz models now include iPod-friendly USB and auxiliary ports, and the GLS can be ordered with Premium and Preferred option packages. Finally, a new monochromatic all-black paint scheme is offered in an effort to keep the biggest Hyundai's look in line with other luxury crossover vehicles.
Most people know Hyundai as an automaker that produces affordable cars and SUVs that are big on value. In the past couple of years, however, Hyundai has been making an effort to bring value to vehicle segments that are a bit more expensive than their norm. A perfect example of this is the 2009 Hyundai Veracruz.
The Veracruz debuted two years ago as the company's largest and most expensive crossover SUV. At the time, there was a lot of talk about Hyundai benchmarking the Lexus RX 350. True enough, we bet if you covered up all the Veracruz's badges and showed it to the average person, there's a good chance he or she would likely mistake it as coming from a luxury brand.
The exterior isn't as distinct looking as, say, the Acura MDX's, but it's still sharp-looking with swept-back headlights, a sleek greenhouse, rounded rear glass and dual chrome exhaust tips for the standard 260-horsepower V6. Inside, the look is both distinct and luxurious. There's plenty of faux wood trim and aluminum-looking accents, while glowing blue dash lights lend a modern flair. Even the cupholders are accented with blue light.
The Veracruz packs plenty of versatility and convenience, too. Base GLS models come equipped with a pleasing collection of features, and you can load up the Veracruz Limited with leather seating, a navigation system and rear-seat entertainment if you want. The Veracruz also has an easily accessed third-row seat for a maximum capacity of seven passengers. However, the third row isn't as roomy as those found in other large crossovers, and adults will find it tolerable only for short trips.
Overall, though, the 2009 Hyundai Veracruz is an excellent choice for a midsize or large crossover. True, it's not as prestigious as a Lexus, nor is it as roomy as the Buick Enclave/Chevy Traverse/GMC Acadia triplets or as sporty to drive as the Mazda CX-9. The new Ford Flex beats out the Veracruz for the "cool" factor as well. But for the money and compared to more common choices like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, the Veracruz is exceptionally nice. It's comfortable to drive, has a great-looking interior and boasts top safety scores and warranty coverage. Anyone shopping for a seven-passenger crossover SUV should add the Hyundai Veracruz to their short list.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Hyundai Veracruz crossover SUV is available in two trim levels: base GLS and luxury-oriented Limited. The GLS features 17-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-telescoping steering column, cloth upholstery, a third-row seat, rear climate controls and a six-speaker audio system with a CD/MP3 player, satellite radio and auxiliary and USB audio jacks. The optional GLS Preferred package adds a sunroof, rear parking assist, foglights, a power driver seat, heated front seats and a 115-volt household-style outlet. The optional Premium Package requires the Preferred Package and adds 18-inch wheels, a power rear liftgate, leather seating and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The Limited trim level includes all of the above equipment plus an Infinity sound system with a six-CD changer, driver memory settings, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjusting steering column, adjustable pedals, a power passenger seat and keyless ignition/entry. Optional are a navigation system and a rear entertainment system; both come bundled with a 10-speaker Infinity surround-sound audio system.
Powertrains and Performance
All 2009 Hyundai Veracruz models are 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, while all trim levels can be equipped with either front- or all-wheel drive. In performance testing, a Veracruz AWD 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 EPA estimates of 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined for the front-wheel-drive model. All-wheel-drive models get 1 mpg less.
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 2009 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, although the center stack is a little button-heavy.
Space and comfort are also very good. The third row isn't quite as spacious as that of the Mazda CX-9 or GM's full-size crossovers (specifically regarding headroom), but there's still enough room for an average-sized adult on short journeys. The second-row seats slide forward at the flip of a lever, making access to the third row fairly simple -- you won't need a spine made out of Nerf for entry and exit. Maximum cargo capacity checks in at a respectable 87 cubic feet.
The 2009 Hyundai Veracruz is a serene boulevard and highway cruiser. Its ride is supple and quiet, and handling is predictable despite the quick steering being noticeably inert. Acceleration is about average for vehicles in this class, and the six-speed auto provides smooth gearchanges, but can occasionally be hesitant to downshift. The brakes perform reasonably well, though in testing we noticed some brake fade after multiple hard panic stops.
Read our Hyundai Veracruz Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test