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The Hyundai Veracruz is a four-door, seven passenger mid-size crossover sport-utility vehicle. Hyundai’s desire to prove that they are capable of producing more than just high quality, inexpensive economy cars has lead the company to the point where it is beginning to seek out fresh, upscale markets. The idea is for Hyundai to apply the same focus on quality that has made their previous vehicles so successful to a brand new line of luxury cars and trucks. This is a bold strategy designed to take on companies such as Lexus and Acura, undercutting them in terms of price while still offering the same features and performance. The success of the Santa Fe SUV lead to the Hyundai Veracruz crossover being introduced in 2007 as the first tangible result of the new brand philosophy.

The 2008 Veracruz is an attractive mid-size package that builds off of some of the more successful styling cues of the competition. A rounded passenger compartment gives way to a somewhat pointed, friendly front end, and the vehicle has a tall stance that immediately suggests strength and utility. Larger than the Santa Fe, the Veracruz’s appearance gives the impression that it is targeting buyers of the Acura MDX or Lexus RX.

This is a notion that Hyundai definitely does not dissuade buyers from holding. The base GLS is chock full of features such as front and rear air conditioning, power windows and door locks, cruise control and keyless entry. The SE provides 18-inch wheels and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, along with fog lights and a refrigerated center console. The Veracruz Limited includes a power sunroof, heated leather seats with memory, rain sensing windshield wipers and dual-climate controls, along with a very classy exterior upgrade consisting of chrome accents.

The Limited is a real step up for Hyundai, and care has been taken to ensure that the vehicle presents a new corporate face to the world. The interior is well put together, with a focus on making sure that components fit well and that passengers in all three rows of seating have adequate space and comfort.

When it comes to engine choices, the Veracruz keeps things simple. A 260 horsepower, 3.8 liter V6 that makes 257 lb-ft of torque is the only available option, shifting through Hyundai’s first 6-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is an option for each trim level. This power train helps vault the Veracruz above similarly-priced options from Honda and Subaru. Performance is excellent, with quiet, assured acceleration aided by a transmission which outclasses the competition. The suspension is firm without being jarring, and it adequately controls the body roll inherent in such a tall vehicle. Fuel mileage is not spectacular, but at 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highway for the front-wheel drive version of the vehicle, it is right up there with other mid-size SUV’s.

The Hyundai Veracruz is a very serious shot across the bow of luxury SUV makers across the globe. Now that the company has realized that they can do comfort as well as they can do economy, it seems as though the crossover might represent the tip of the spear for Hyundai’s newly expanded product lineup.

The 2009 Hyundai Veracruz is a carryover from 2008. The 2009 Veracruz crossover comes in three trims that all share identical mechanical configurations. The GLS, SE and Limited trims are all equipped with a 3.8 liter V6 that produces 260 horsepower and 257 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is optional, with front-wheel drive standard. A 6-speed automatic transmission is provided, and fuel economy comes in at 16 miles per gallon in city driving and 23 miles per gallon during highway cruising.