Long-term Weekend: 2008 Hyundai VeracruzFor the past week, Southern California has been rainy and wet. That's why I took our long-term 2008 Hyundai Veracruz home for the weekend.
Unlike most of the people who travel to L.A. every day for work, I happen to live at the 4000-foot elevation mark, which means I'm more at risk of getting snowed in and left stuck at home when rainy days turn into freezing rainy nights.
Rewind to last Thursday: It was ten o'clock at night; I was driving up home in my MINI Cooper. It was raining and the clouds were low. The famous 15 highway was covered in fog as I started to climb the dangerous part of the highway known as the Cajon pass. The temperature dropped, and the roads became super slushy. I couldn't see the lines, and my speed dropped to 35 mph. Big trucks were passing me on both sides, and I felt uneasy because I couldn't see the road in my little car. I eventually got home only to learn that this rain was going to stick around over the coming weekend.
So the next day at work I decided I needed a vehicle to get me through the next few days since I have a chance of getting snow where I live. I've been snowed in before, but that's only because I had a lowered vehicle with a body kit and there was no way to move that in eight inches of snow. I didn't want to have that feeling of being stuck. That's why I took our newest long-term vehicle, the AWD 2008 Hyundai Veracruz with just a little over 3000 miles on it.
Luckily, my drive home wasn't super wet. I left the office just before a huge rainfall had come in. The roads were wet but the sky was oddly clear as I started my climb up the Cajon pass. The Veracruz made its way up the steep highway, and I noticed a drop in power from its 3.8-liter V-6 as the altitude changed. I had to give it a little more gas to maintain the steady speed I required. The power was still great as it kept climbing, but it's that dropping power I hate feeling when my foot stays in one location on the gas. That's when I shifted into manual mode. The vehicle just took off as it kept climbing the pass, and I had no more loss of power as my foot rested on the gas pedal.
The Veracruz proved to be quite useful throughout the rest of the weekend. As the Los Angeles and Orange County valleys were battling the heavy downpours, our desert valley was just high enough to get the sun for most the day. In the distance, we could see the clouds were coming, and it gave us enough time to run around town to get some errands done. We loaded up the Veracruz with two of our dogs for a trip to the vet. I made the mistake of handling the keys to my mom on the way home. I couldn't pry the keys out of her hand as we went from store to store for the rest of the day. (I think she liked it.)The storm rolled in and we stayed home for the night. Sunday morning was another sunny day for us in the high desert, but we could see the clouds were on their way. We escaped the house once again to do some grocery shopping before the rain reached us. As soon as we walked out of the store, the rain started to fall and we rushed to pack the Veracruz with our bags. We had two carts full of water, soda, and food, and we didn't manage to fill the rear cargo of the Veracruz. It's that deep and can hold a lot.
My biggest fear was this last night of rains. All week long, the news reported there would be a chance of snow as low as where I live. The night came and rain fell. I was expecting to see a white blanket over our neighborhood when I woke up Monday morning (since this was the largest of the cells according to the weather folks). Instead, we had a sunny morning again and the snow never fell. But in the distance I could see those clouds again, and I knew I'd have to make my way through them to get into the office.
What I think:
Starting Mileage: 3771
Ending Mileage: 4057
Price tested (our vehicle): $38,320
Avg Fuel Consumption: 18.7 mpg
I like the Hyundai Veracruz. Its not a huge looking SUV, but it can hold a lot. The interior is not cheep looking and it's nicely laid out. The wood trim mimics that of the Mazda CX-9 and isn't overly done -- clean and simple. The dash is laid out nicely too, although the climate and audio layout reminds me of the silhouette of a transformer's head. Climate control buttons are very easy to navigate around, and I love fact that the rear seating has its own climate-control options. There are a lot of little hidden cubby holes in the center console also. Above the rearview mirror is a second concave mirror that you could use to watch children or pets without moving your rearview for safety. This worked great when we took the dogs to the vet.
The Veracruz is easy to drive, and power is great for highway and surface street driving. I did experience some loss of power when going up the steep mountain in auto, but when I switched to manual the power from the V-6 really shined through. It was almost a different beast, and the manual mode gave it a sporty feeling.
The Hyundai has almost the same shape as the Mazda CX-9 and my favorite crossover, the Subaru Tribeca, with the long sloping front window and rounded rear hatch. It doesn't stand out from the crossover pack in terms of styling, but plays it safe with its less than copycat features. The Autodim exterior side mirrors have to be my new favorite must-have feature for any vehicle. They defiantly produced less glare from headlights during night driving.
The Hyundai Veracruz I tested has a lot of standard creature comforts and still manages to be under $39K. In my opinion, it's worth every cent.
January 28 2008