DETROIT - An axiom of old school automotive design goes something like this: Exterior styling will get customers into the showroom but its interior design that closes the sale. By that rule, Hyundai can expect to sell a bunch of its Veracruz utility vehicles.
Our test vehicle was stylish enough sitting in our driveway. But when we climbed inside, we forgot about the exterior styling. The Veracruz's black and saddle brown interior was in a phrase word elegant, soothing and understated.
Materials were surprising pleasing to the touch. The leather was perforated and the smooth surfaces felt nonetheless soft.
It was one of the rare occasions that we approved of the understated use of silver satin plastic. In this case, it formed the template for the Veracruz's center stack which was simple, not cluttered with a lot of buttons and dials and it was easy to use. After a week in the Veracruz, the interior made us feel like we were still sliding into a comforting balm.
That ambience was present in the second row seats, where we found plenty of head and leg room. We think that the second row seats could hold three adults comfortable. Our test vehicle was equipped with a rear entertainment system as well as rear climate controls.
The 60/40 split second row seats were also adjustable. The backs could be tilted and the seats themselves could be slid back.
We were particularly interested in the third row seats. They folded flat creating an even cargo floor. When we got back there we thought the space snug. But our knees were not in our chest. In fact, after sitting in the third row for a few minutes, we thought a couple of average sized adults could survive a not too long ride back there.
Our test vehicle ran silent and it ran fast when we needed it to. It was powered by a 3.8 liter V6 that made 260 horsepower and 257 pounds-feet of torque. The engine was mated to a six speed automatic transmission.
The engine ran smoothly and gear selection was almost silent. Even when we press down on accelerator, the Veracruz ran relatively quietly.
We were particularly impressed with the Veracruz's driving characteristics. Although it weighed almost 4,500 pounds, our test vehicle was rather spry on its treaded. It responded to driver input smartly. It cornered well it stayed fairly flat in the curves.
Every now and then we'd catch ourselves driving the Veracruz like it was a sedan rather than a utility vehicle. We were really pleased with the way it responded to our every command.
We had the top of the line Limited model. That meant that our Veracruz had all-wheel drive, a sunroof, premium audio system that included satellite radio and an in dash six disc CD player that included MP3 capability. It also had fob that would allow us to start the vehicle with put the key in the ignition, adjustable pedals and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel.
Our test vehicle didn't have a navigation system, nor was it equipped with Bluetooth that turns compatible cell phones into hands free car phone. That's okay. We were still awfully impressed with Hyundai's Veracruz.
The sticker on our test vehicle was $38,225.