Hyundai's midsize Santa Fe crossover, which is all-new for the latest model year, is now offered in two configurations: the five-passenger Santa Fe Sport, and the seven-passenger Santa Fe discussed herein. Both offer handsome styling and excellent fuel economy, while the larger Santa Fe distinguishes itself with extra space for people and cargo in addition to a standard V6.
While they both ride on a sturdy, lightweight version of the platform used by the Kia Sorento (Kia is partially owned by Hyundai), the Santa Fe has a four-inch longer wheelbase than the Sport and is nearly nine inches lengthier overall. That additional space is sufficient to house a third-row seat, which ups passenger capacity to six or seven depending on whether a bench seat or captain's chairs are specified for the second row.
Up front, the driver faces a flowing, organically-shaped dashboard that can be fitted with an optional eight-inch touchscreen navigation system. Second-row passengers enjoy stretch-out space, including more legroom than the full-size Chevrolet Traverse. The third-row seats, however, are best reserved for children, though they can fit small adults for short journeys.
Cargo space is ample for a midsize Â‘ute: 13.4 cubic inches are available behind the third-row seat, 41 with the third-row folded, and 80 with all but the first-row seats folded flat. Extra carrying capacity for all kinds of smaller items is provided by an oversized central storage console, a front storage bin and an under-floor storage space, and a cooled glovebox and numerous cupholders are present for beverage hauling.
In addition to the aforementioned navigation system, the Santa Fe offers technology features such as a standard Bluetooth hands-free phone system with audio streaming and an optional Blue Link telematics service with voice text messaging, points-of-interest web search download, automatic collision notification and more. Four different sound systems are available, ranging from a basic six-speaker unit to a 12-speaker, 550-watt Infinity Logic 7 setup.
The Santa Fe comes standard with a direct-injection 3.3-liter V6 that produces a healthy 290 horsepower to go along with 252 lb-ft of torque. This engine mates to a six-speed automatic transmission, and the pair is good for 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway with front-wheel-drive.
Those looking for extra foul-weather security can opt for all-wheel-drive, which provides extra traction in return for a drop in fuel economy. The AWD system is a sophisticated unit with an "intelligent control unit" and a multi-clutch plate that can distribute torque to any wheel as necessitated by driving conditions, and brake force can also be sent to any single wheel through the software system. Together, these features help to ensure optimal traction as well as neutral handling.
New to the Santa Fe is a driver selectable steering system, which allows the driver to tailor steering heft to suit his or her preferences.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Santa Fe is available in GLS and Limited trim levels.
The GLS comes standard with A/C with 2nd and 3rd row vents, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM stereo system with AUX/USB inputs, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming capability, Blue Link infotainment system, cruise control, a multifunction trip computer, a 12-volt power outlet and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The Limited adds dual zone climate control, a 4.3-inch touchscreen display, a backup camera, power-adjustable and heated front seats, heated second-row seats, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated compass, a Homelink integrated transceiver, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob, a proximity key with push button start, fog lights, automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, a 115-volt power outlet and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Options include a navigation system with an eight-inch touchscreen display, a heated steering wheel and a panoramic sunroof. Additionally, many of the Limited's features can be outfitted to the GLS as extra-cost items.
All Santa Fe models are fitted as standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag, traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
As a mid-size crossover with three rows of seating, the Hyundai Santa Fe's primary competitor is the popular Toyota Highlander, which offers a larger cabin and an efficient hybrid model. Those looking for maximum interior space can also step up to full-size Â‘utes such as the burly Dodge Durango, which offers an optional HEMI V8, the refined Nissan Pathfinder or the spacious and distinctive Ford Flex.