Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Veracruz 1st Hyundai to Top $25,000

Veracruz 1st Hyundai to top $25,000

Hyundai has done it- moved across the $25,000 starting price level for a new vehicle.

The brand that for years was known in the United States for its low-priced vehicles and industry-leading warranty coverage now has a new model that’s priced upward of $26,900.

It's the 2007 Veracruz crossover sport utility vehicle that joins nearly a half dozen other new crossovers in the market this year.

With standard three-row seating, comfortable ride and handling, rich styling and amenities and healthy 260-horsepower V-6, a two-wheel drive Veracruz starts at $26,995. With all-wheel drive added, the starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $28,695.

The previous most-expensive Hyundai - the 2007 Azera sedan with luxury appointments - has a starting price of $24,895.

Indeed, the test top-of-the-line Veracruz Limited with all-wheel drive, was priced at just over $38,000.

Competitors include the 2007 Honda Pilot, which starts at $27,690 for a two-wheel drive LX with 244-horsepower V-6, and the 2007 GMC Acadia, which starts at $29,990 for a two-wheel drive SLE with 275-horsepower V-6.

The Veracruz rides on a platform that's longer and wider than Hyundai's Santa Fe SUV.

But the personality of the Veracruz is more refined than that of a Santa Fe.

The interior of the test vehicle was surprisingly quiet, almost like that of a Lexus, and while the Veracruz felt well-planted to the pavement, the ride was compliant and pleasant - not busy or harsh, even in the tester with uplevel, 18-inch tires.

It clung to off-camber, downhill curves with tenacity and passengers didn't feel unsettling, abrupt body sway. Rather, the body structure seemed well-controlled and weight shifted predictably to give the driver confident handling.

And the turning circle of 36.7 feet was surprisingly tidy.

The only engine - a 3.8-liter, double overhead cam V-6 with continuously variable valve timing - was readily responsive from the get go, had plenty of passing power on highways and seems well-matched to a vehicle that can carry up to seven people.

It's the same engine that's in the Azera and Hyundai's Entourage minivan and needs only regular gasoline.

Torque peaks at 257 foot-pounds at 4,500 rpm, which is more than the 240 foot-pounds at 4,500 rpm in the 244-horsepower Pilot.

At 18 miles a gallon in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway for a two-wheel drive Veracruz, this Hyundai's government fuel economy rating is even a tad higher than that for the Pilot.

Best of all, the Veracruz comes with all safety equipment standard, including six air bags, active front head restraints to reduce whiplash injuries, antilock brakes and electronic stability control.

And it earned the top rating - five out of five stars - in the federal government's front and side crash testing.

There was nary a vibration or nuisance sound in the Veracruz drive. I kept listening for wind noise, especially at highway speeds, but there was little of it and there was little road noise from the tires.

Hyundai uses active engine mounts under the hood that change from soft to firm to manage engine idle vibrations at idle as well as on the highway.

Standard equipment on all models includes air conditioning with controls for rear-seat passengers, steering wheel-mounted controls for the audio system and cruise control, a dual exhaust and audio system with MP3 and XM satellite radio capability that comes with free, three-month XM radio service.


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