Hyundai vehicles seem like a smart bet on the surface. They come with a durable warranty of 10 years or 100,000 miles, overshadowing offerings by comparable manufacturers like Chevrolet or Honda. Additionally, the brand is known for building quality vehicles that come with a full complement of great safety, technology, and convenience features.
With these factors in mind, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe personifies the brand’s strength. Here’s a closer look at its offerings and how it measures up to its competition:
The best expression of the Santa Fe’s design is “California dreaming.” This isn’t surprising given Hyundai designed this SUV at its Southern California center. The angled rear and elongated hood give the model a sportier appearance. To complement this further, Hyundai equipped the Santa Fe with 18-inch alloy wheels.
A focal point for the new Santa Fe was form and function. To achieve this, designers made the SUV with convenience features such as the optional hands-free lift-gate with auto open. This differs from other lift-gate systems in that you don’t have to swing your foot under the bumper to activate it. Instead, you stand within three feet of the SUV’s rear for more than three seconds while having the Proximity Key. This is beneficial in that you don’t have to try to do conduct maneuvers when accessing the cargo area of your SUV–which can be difficult if you are trying to corral your children or have hands-full of cargo. Additionally, the feature also comes with a height-adjustable function to stop at the tailgate at a specified height.
Overall, the Hyundai Santa Fe offers a good design that will appeal to most. At the same time, it’s far from distinctive, as it features many of the same design elements (like LED tail lights, alloy wheels, etc) you’ll find on other models in its segment.
The crisp interior design offers you the touch of luxury and convenience. If you upgrade the trim, you’ll receive helpful features such as the Integrated Memory System for the driver’s seat, heated front, and ventilated front seats–with leather trim, a dual-zone climate control system with the CleanAir ionizer, and a heated steering wheel. These upgrades elevate the Santa Fe to luxury quality.
Versatility is a big factor weighing on many prospective buyers’ minds. To enhance the Santa Fe’s appeal, you have your choice of the Santa Fe SE which seats up to seven passengers or the Santa Fe Limited which seats six passengers comfortably. Along with your choice of seating preferences, you’ll receive a cargo capacity of 80 cubic feet, allowing you to store strollers, sporting equipment, and more on your journeys.
The Santa Fe delivers robust performance thanks to its 3.3L V6 engine. The engine achieves a maximum horsepower output of 290, giving it an advantage over V6 engines in the Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander. To deliver exciting acceleration, the Santa Fe delivers a torque output of 252 lb-ft. Moreover, a standard offering for all trims is the trailer-prep package. This allows the SUV to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
To tailor your drives more to your liking, you have your choice of three drive modes. How this works is each mode has a steering and throttle response set to match your driving mood. If you want to conserve fuel, then the Eco mode is great as it reduces engine throttle to reduce the energy exerted. Meanwhile, if you want a sporty driving experience, the Sport mode opens up the engine throttle to provide a good boost of acceleration and tighter handling when conducting turns. In addition, there’s the Normal mode if you want a more traditional driving experience.
If you are newer to driving SUVs, one of the challenges you’ll face is learning how fast to approach corners. Hyundai anticipated this, so it equipped the Santa Fe with the available Active Cornering Control All-Wheel-Drive system. This works by having the system transfers power to the rear wheels while applying braking to the inside rear wheel, according to Hyundai. This results in smooth handling as you negotiate the SUV through hairpin turns.
One area where the Hyundai Santa Fe struggled in the past was in safety performance, as it didn’t fare well in crash test performances. Hyundai went back to the drawing board, identified the weaknesses of the SUV, and made improvements. Now, the crash test scores earned the SUV top safety marks, instilling confidence back into the model.
Of course, the Hyundai Santa Fe comes with a bevy of available driver-assistance features like Lane Change Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, and more. These features provide you with more real-time information of your surroundings so you can make safer choices.
Another helpful benefit is the rear parking sensors. Parking a vehicle the size of the Santa Fe can be stressful if you don’t have much experience doing it. Thankfully, the parking sensors work by reading the conditions behind you. If the sensors detect an object in your path, it triggers an audible alert that grows in frequency the closer you approach an object. While it isn’t a substitute for looking behind your shoulder and using your rearview mirror, it does offer another level of information you can use to ease the stress of parking.
How the Hyundai Santa Fe Compares
To see how the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe compares to other 2017 full-size SUVs, we used data from AxleGeeks to see how it measures up in key areas:
- Price: With a starting price of $30,800, the Santa Fe is $19,075 less expensive than the average cost of a comparable model.
- Fuel efficiency: The Santa Fe earns a combined 21 miles per gallon, giving it a 3 mpg advantage over some of its competitors.
- Power capabilities: The Santa Fe delivers 65 horsepower fewer than its segment averages. This deficiency extends to its towing capacity as well, where it tows 3,000 pounds less than its competitors do.
- Trunk space: The Santa Fe has 13.50 cubic feet of trunk space, placing it at a 22-percent disadvantage.
Overall, the Hyundai Santa Fe is far from the most capable SUV available. However, it does achieve excellent affordability, reliable safety performance, and possesses enough interior versatility to make it an appealing choice for many.