- The Washington Times - Friday, December 11, 2009

The seven-passenger Hyundai Veracruz raised the bar in the premium, midsize crossover segment.

Veracruz is available in two trim levels, GLS and Limited. The GLS now comes standard with features that previously were options, including power driver seat, roof rack side rails, backup warning system, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, fog lights, automatic headlights and temperature-controlled storage. Owing to cold-weather consumer demand, GLS models equipped with all-wheel drive also now include heated front seats as standard equipment.

New for 2010:

* The GLS model adds standard features previously optional.

* The GLS is now available with LG navigation system and Infinity Logic 7 audio system (delayed availability).

* Six new colors, including Black Noir Pearl, Blue Titanium Mist, Sahara Bronze, Driftwood Metallic, Ultra Silver and Carbon Steel Mist

Featuring a unique blend of substance, luxury and style, the 2010 Hyundai Veracruz targets the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, while offering the kind of upscale amenities and premium craftsmanship found in the Lexus RX350 and Mercedes-Benz ML.

The Veracruz demonstrates Hyundai’s product expansion and global design evolution through its continued use of organic forms to create a refined and luxurious exterior appearance. Fluid lines, which combine with integrated headlights and taillights, help create a unified aesthetic for the vehicle.

Upfront, the sculpted bumper creates the appearance of additional height. Three-tiered headlights complement the design. The grille combines a flat-lined upper chrome bezel and a curved lower bezel. Distinctive character lines and a fast profile enhance the stylish, yet functional imagery of the vehicle. Adding to its appearance is the Veracruz’s seductive beltline, which ascends from the wraparound headlights, around the tapering body, then down to the prominent taillights. Chrome trim is strategically applied to highlight some of Veracruz’s design features, but also works to create an elegant, luxurious presence for the vehicle. The prominent wheel arches house 17-inch alloy wheels on the GLS or 18-inch alloy wheels on the Limited.

Smooth and solid in its stance, the Veracruz even impresses as it departs. The integrated rear fascia has a sculpted section that blends seamlessly into the sides of the taillights. The taillights angle toward the character line highlighting the rounded back glass and dual exhaust tips. A rear spoiler enhances the Veracruz’s sporty profile.

Inside, passengers are coddled in a rich, sophisticated environment inspired by boutique hotels. The result is an interior that could be found in the finest luxury sedans, thanks to intelligent ergonomic engineering, intuitive design, and superior craftsmanship by Hyundai designers and engineers. Hyundai has crafted a winner, combining space with elegance and including conveniences that exceed expectations.

Every major component of Veracruz has been designed to reduce cabin noise below that of the whisper-quiet Lexus RX350. To isolate outside noise, Hyundai applies acoustic damping sheets to the doors and unibody, a steel plate beneath the engine and four layers of carpet padding. Engine noise is reduced through an electronically controlled engine mount, a multi-curvature dash, custom hood insulation and a pillow tripod joint, which lessens vibrations from the driveshaft at idle.

Seating for seven adults is made possible because of Hyundai’s standard Hideaway third-row seat. Access to the third row is simple with the flip of a lever to slide the second row forward. Additionally, a well-thought-out design means cargo space is abundant in the Veracruz. Although 9.7 inches shorter than the Mercedes Benz GL, the Veracruz still has more cargo volume.

Available dual-zone climate controls for driver and front-seat passenger further enhance the Veracruz’s luxury credentials. Second- and third-row passengers enjoy a new level of comfort, owing to B-pillar-mounted adjustable vents, rear HVAC controls and roof-mounted vents.

Brushed metal accents and blue backlighting for all interior gauges, switches and buttons highlight the modern, integrated interior design. Even the front cupholders are accented with blue light to aid nighttime driving, while soft blue lighting in the overhead console provides subdued mood lighting. Hyundai’s focused attention to detail can be seen throughout the interior: The console bins and the glovebox are lined with soft flocking material. Powerpoint caps, seatbelt buckles and cupholder inserts are color-keyed for design harmony. Soft-touch, high-quality materials, low-gloss surfaces and zero-tolerance fits are used throughout the interior.

An AM/FM/XM Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 audio system includes an internal 172-watt amplifier and six speakers and comes standard in the Veracruz GLS along with three months of XM service (not available in Alaska or Hawaii). The 315-watt Infinity AM/FM/XM Satellite Radio/CD-changer/MP3 audio system with subwoofer and external amplifier is standard on the Limited. Audiophiles with even more demanding tastes will be impressed by the Infinity AM/FM/XM Satellite Radio/CD-changer/MP3 audio system that includes a 605-watt external amplifier, 10 speakers and Logic 7 surround sound available on the Limited and GLS for 2010.

Veracruz audio systems include a standard auxiliary input jack (3.5 mm mini-jack and USB input) to accommodate and charge audio devices such as iPods. When an iPod or flash drive is connected through the USB port, which is located in a center console storage compartment, not only does it play music through the vehicle’s audio system, but it also charges the iPod and allows the driver to access tracks with the steering wheel audio controls. This system also allows both driver and passengers to easily view song/artist/title information and control the music from the audio head unit rather than only the iPod itself.

The LG navigation system available on the GLS and Limited models includes touch-screen functions, point-of-interest features for all entertainment needs and audiovisual prompts to assist in getting drivers to where they want to go. Other thoughtful convenience features include a proximity key, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, mirror-mounted approach lights, memory settings for the power driver seat, exterior mirrors and steering wheel, backup warning system, power liftgate, and a rear-seat entertainment system that includes a DVD player and eight-inch overhead LCD.

On the street, Veracruz offers capable, fuel-efficient performance courtesy of a modern 3.8-liter DOHC V6 engine. It delivers 260 horsepower and 257 lb-ft. of torque. To maximize torque across the rev range, the engine utilizes continuously variable valve timing on the intake valves and a variable intake system which helps cylinders breathe efficiently at both low and high rpm. The engine has an aluminum block and cylinder heads for light weight and thermal efficiency, and features a steel timing chain with no scheduled maintenance.

To reduce vibration, the engine rides on newly developed semiactive engine mounting, which consists of three passive mounts integrated with a controllable element, rpm sensor and solenoid valve. The active mount is vacuum-activated to offset engine vibrations.

To help put the power to use, the engine is mated to an Aisin six-speed gearbox with Shiftronic manual control. The transmission offers silky-smooth shifts and a wide spread of ratios that ideally suits the engine’s capabilities. Drivers can access the Shiftronic feature by moving the gear selector into a separate gate. Pushing the selector forward or pulling it rearward will shift the transmission up or down sequentially, adding to driver control. An LED readout on the instrument panel shows the gear that is in use. The transmission uses an integrated transmission-control unit and low noise gears that help reduce friction.

All of this powertrain technology is put to efficient use in the Veracruz, which achieves an EPA highway fuel-economy estimate of 16 city/23 highway in front-wheel-drive models, and 15 city/23 highway in all-wheel-drive models. Veracruz also delivers clean air, with a Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) classification.

Hyundai engineers benchmarked the best crossovers in the world before designing Veracruz’s unibody and four-wheel independent suspension system. The rigid chassis and suspension geometry were specifically designed to deliver a supple, confident ride and help isolate the passenger cabin from imperfections in the road. The underpinnings are supported by a MacPherson strut front suspension and multilink rear suspension system.

Upfront, reverse L-shaped lower control arms and high caster angles provide superior steering feel and excellent straight-line stability. Large subframe bushings improve the ride and isolate unwanted noise, vibration and harshness. All four wheels are controlled by coil springs, fade-resistant, gas-charged dampers and front and rear stabilizer bars. The Veracruz GLS is equipped with 17-inch, five-split-spoke aluminum wheels and 245/65R17 tires, while the Limited trim rides on 18-inch, five-spoke aluminum wheels and 245/60R18 tires. Add in rack-and-pinion power steering, with a tighter turning radius than the shorter-in-length Lexus RX350 and Nissan Murano, and the end result is a vehicle with precise steering and handling, and a well-controlled yet comfortable ride.

Hyundai offers an intelligent torque controlled coupling all wheel drive (AWD) system to propel Veracruz through the elements. Using wheel speed sensors to monitor the road and the driver, this electronic system can sense when and where more torque is required and route it there automatically. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels through a multiplate clutch without any extra effort from the driver. An AWD lock mode can be engaged with the touch of a button, providing a 50/50 torque ratio when needed at low speeds.

The 2010 Veracruz embraces both active and passive safety with a host of leading-edge technologies. The vehicle’s advanced engineering provides a high level of precision during all aspects of driving and is anchored by standard electronic stability control, the industry’s most important new safety technology. By continually analyzing road speed, steering input, throttle position, lateral yaw rate and other factors, an onboard microprocessor determines if the vehicle is starting to understeer or oversteer, and automatically engages one or more brakes. The system also reduces engine output to help the driver maintain the intended path.

In addition, Veracruz adds large four-wheel disc brakes with a 10-inch tandem brake booster and an anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution for impressive stopping distance for a vehicle of its size. Brake assist, which is also standard, maximizes braking force when an emergency stop is detected.

Veracruz’s passive safety features are equally impressive, beginning with six total airbags, including advanced dual front airbags, front seat-mounted side-impact airbags and roof-mounted side curtain airbags for all three rows of seating. In addition, active front head restraints help prevent whiplash. All seating positions feature three-point seatbelts, while the second and third rows also feature adjustable head restraints. Security is provided through a standard alarm system and available engine immobilizer.

To absorb impact to the passenger cabin, Hyundai engineers optimized crumple zones and reinforced the architecture’s rails, side-sill frame, floor cross-members and center pillars. These reinforcements have been tested thoroughly in laboratory and computer simulations. Veracruz has received the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) top five-star crash test rating for frontal and side impacts.

Convenient Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) points allow child seats to be secured in the second-row seats. Additional standard safety equipment includes a tire pressure monitoring system, which alerts drivers if one or more tires are underinflated. An illuminated readout on the dash lets drivers know a tire needs inflation so corrective action can be taken.

As with all Hyundai vehicles, Hyundai put a great deal of thought and attention into every aspect of Veracruz. One touch opens and closes the available power tailgate, and the proximity key means no more fishing for keys with groceries in hand. Approach lights, sometimes referred to as “puddle lamps,” can save your best pair of shoes. An integrated memory system returns the driver’s seat to a default setting.

Additionally, equipping the rear bumper with backup warning sensors makes parallel parking a snap. Aerodynamic wiper blades improve visibility, and two-way nozzles, each with four streams of fluid, provide for remarkably clean windshields. Making wireless phone calls in your Veracruz is easy using optional Bluetooth wireless technology.

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