Last spring I was smitten with Hyundai’s turbocharged Santa Fe Sport, so it was with anticipation that I hopped into the three-row, long-wheelbase version known solely as the Santa Fe. It replaces last year’s Veracruz.
By TOM STRONGMAN
I loved the Sport’s lively acceleration and firm road holding, but the bigger Santa Fe felt more mature and slightly subdued. The added size and weight (the wheelbase is 4 inches longer and the all-wheel-drive Limited weighs 500 pounds more) were noticeable. Maximum towing is 5,000 pounds.
Because of the added size and the ability to carry six or seven passengers, the Santa Fe comes with one engine, the 3.3-liter, 290-horsepower V-6 that is also used in the Azera sedan. This direct-injection engine was smooth and strong, with nice power across the rev range. The transmission is a six-speed automatic that can be shifted manually. The powertrain is covered by a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
The availability of three-row seating puts the Santa Fe in contention for shoppers who need extra seats for carpooling. The second-row captain’s chairs in the test vehicle made it easy to get to the third seat. Second-row legroom was generous but the third row was tight. Cargo space is quite small when the third-row seats are up and generous when they’re down.
The Santa Fe comes in front-wheel or all-wheel drive, in GLS or Limited models. Prices start at $28,600 and top out at $35,100.
The styling, called Fluidic Sculpture, is bright and fresh. While the rear side windows are larger than those on the Sport, rear three-quarter visibility is still a bit of an issue. All crossover utility vehicles require careful use of the outside mirrors.
The Limited model is impressively equipped. The front seats had excellent support and – hallelujah – headrests that can be adjusted fore and aft as well as up and down. So many of today’s headrests are too far forward for my posture.
The driver-selectable steering has Normal, Comfort and Sport settings but at highway speeds the on-center feel was heavy and somewhat numb no matter which setting I chose.
Standard equipment on the Limited included heated outside mirrors, keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, heated first- and second-row seats, Bluetooth connectivity, Hyundai Blue Link telematics (similar to GM’s OnStar), downhill brake control and hill start assist.
The test vehicle’s optional technology package included a heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, navigation system, upgraded audio system with 12 speakers and HD radio. The instrument panel has attractive and readable gauges and the navigation system uses an eight-inch display.
The all-wheel-drive system can be locked into permanent all-wheel mode at low speeds for pulling out of deep snow, mud or gravel. Active cornering control works with the stability control system to keep the vehicle stable in turns.
The base price of the test car was $35,100. The technology package of panoramic sunroof, navigation system, 12-speaker surround sound system, HD radio, heated steering wheel and rear side window shades brought the sticker price to $38,980.
Five years or 60,000 miles, with a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and five years of roadside assistance.
Tom Strongman’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.