2007 Hyundai VeracruzHyundai is successfully changing the way Americans look at their product line.
During the past decade, the Korean automaker's lackluster build quality and stodgy designs have given way to sophisticated styling and improved fit and finish -- the likes of which mimic their Japanese competitors.
"Our company is experiencing the fastest quality improvement in its history," Hyundai Product Manager Miles Johnson said. "Our entire organization is fanatical about quality."
Hyundai's redesigned Sonata sedan and Santa Fe sport utility are current samples that have helped fuel the company's annual U.S. sales growth from 91,217 units in 1998 to last year's 455,520 units.
The newest member to join the Hyundai product line is the midsize 2007 Hyundai Veracruz crossover vehicle outfitted in GLS, SE or upscale Limited models.
Veracruz is larger than its Santa Fe brethren with a 4-inch-longer wheelbase and 6-inch overall length increase that yields a car-like ride quality akin to most large sedans. Cabin acoustics and body sound insulation absorbs engine and road noise to whisper levels.
Unlike a sedan however, Veracruz can manage up to seven passengers with a standard third row 50/50 split-folding seat that accommodates adults for short jaunts, but caters best for children. Second row occupants enjoy adult-size head, leg and knee room with split seats that slide and recline to suit their comfort needs.
Second and third row seats easily fold down to create a cargo hold that swallows everything from bicycles to building material.
Up front, user friendly controls greet the driver with easy-to-read gauges that turn to a soft blue hue for nighttime driving.
Supple cloth seat cushions and soft-textured materials create a pleasing and comfortable ride for all passengers. Limited models are available with two-tone leather upholstery.
Veracruz teams a 260-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission that propels its standard front-wheel drivetrain managed by 17-inch, 5-spoke alloy wheels wrapped in all-season rubber. All models are available with all-wheel drive.
Electronic stability control with traction control, anti-lock brakes, front and three-row side curtain airbags are standard.
Veracruz is equipped with power accessories, steering wheel audio controls, air conditioning with separate rear climate controls, cruise control, rear window wiper and a keyless entry system.
Popular option packages include a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, rear-obstacle detection system, power sunroof, heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers and power adjustable pedals. Bluetooth hands-free phone system, auxiliary iPod jack and XM satellite radio also are available.
The 2007 Hyundai Veracruz GLS enters the crossover segment at $26,995, followed by the SE model for $28,695. Limited stretches the bottom line to $32,995. Add $1,700 for all-wheel drive.
Sunday, July 29
BY JIM JACKSON
Times Auto Writer