When you read the reviews by our friends over at Mother Proof, you often hear their little ones talk about the desire to sit in the “way back.” My kids, too, used to love that concept, but the older they got the less alluring it became, and now they fight constantly over avoiding getting stuck in the third row.
Hyundai has taken some unique approaches to helping little ones get into the “way back,” and that may be the feature I found most appealing. Moving the second-row seat can be a one-handed affair, raising a lever on the outside edge of the second-row seat. While it can be done with one hand, it probably needs to be a strong hand. What’s really cool is the little handle that’s tucked away on the inside wall of the car that kids can grab to pull themselves up and into the third row. Finally, once there, Hyundai has provided pull straps on the back of the second-row seats so the kids can pull those seats back and let the rest of the carpoolers in. It was pretty nifty.
My 10-year-old really enjoyed sitting back there, given that it comes with a regular two-prong power outlet and air-conditioning vents over his head. He also liked that the third row only sat two people (the second row can seat three), so he didn’t feel so claustrophobic. The legroom in the third row was plentiful (for him), and even the second row offered decent adult legroom.
The Veracruz is a new vehicle for Hyundai, and like all its first-time offerings, there are still some areas that need improving. There’s a very noticeable lean in turns, more so than I noticed in either the GMC Acadia or the Mazda CX-9. While I enjoyed the sound system’s performance, the controls and readouts looked like something off the boom box I dragged to the beach in high school. This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed this in a Kia or Hyundai, and I know better-looking sound systems are out there. Suburban Dads really want cool-looking radios, not cheap-looking ones that make our friends laugh at us behind our backs.
My family grew more enthusiastic about the Veracruz the longer they were in it, which was over three days, and its look even drew the attention of my brother-in-law, in town on vacation from Denver. I think he might be adding it to his list of possible next cars.
If this is where minivans are headed (along with other large crossovers like the Acadia, Saturn Outlook and CX-9), I can go along, but these crossovers have got to get better mileage. In heavy city driving, I was only able to get 13 mpg in the Acadia and around 15 in the CX-9. In trips that were more highway oriented, I got about 16 in the Veracruz. For my money, I’d want a car that averages around 20 mpg.