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July 16, 2008 > Auto Review: Hyundai Santa Fe

Auto Review: Hyundai Santa Fe

We had a chance to test drive Hyundai's all-wheel-drive, Limited Edition, Santa Fe. I have been impressed with all the Hyundai vehicles that I have driven and the Santa Fe continues to impress me. It is easy to drive, comfortable, and a strong contender in the crossover SUV market.

All Santa Fe models come with a strong list of safety features including electronic stability control, ABS disc brakes, a full complement of air bags (front, side, and curtain), tire pressure monitoring, and active front head restraints. The Santa Fe also gets the highest government crash ratings for front and side impacts (5-stars) and 4-stars for the rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Santa Fe its highest honor, the "Top Safety Pick," an award given to only 21 new vehicles.

The Limited is the high end of all the models available. It comes with a full range of convenience features. They include a dual zone AC system, trip computer, heated front seats, an 8-way power driver's seat, and power sunroof. The power sunroof is very well designed, and the Santa Fe is one of the quietest vehicles I have driven with the sunroof open. The Limited also gets a very good sound system - a 605 watt, Infinity Logic unit that has a 7-CD changer and 10 speakers. You can also add a set of additional seats in the back of the cabin to increase total seating capacity to seven people.

Hyundai vehicles come with what is advertised as "America's Best Warranty." To lead off, the basic all-inclusive warranty has a 5-year, 60,000-mile term. Then they add a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. A 5-year, unlimited mileage Roadside Assistance program is also included.

You can order your Santa Fe with choices of two different engines, two transmissions, and two choices of wheels. Engine choices are both V-6s; a 2.7-liter 185 HP unit with 185 foot pounds of torque or a larger, 3.3-liter, 242 HP (226 foot pounds), standard in the top two models. The 2.7 delivered 18/24 mpg in its EPA tests and the 3.3's numbers were 17/24.

For the 2.7-liter engine, shifting choices are a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic. The larger V-6 only comes with a 5-speed automatic. All drive trains come with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. An optional towing package allows the Santa Fe to tow up to 3500 pounds.

The lowest cost Santa Fe, the smaller V-6 with a manual transmission and front wheel drive, starts at $21,690. The highest priced Limited with the 3.3 and all-wheel drive, lists for $30,295. Our test Limited also had the $1,750 navigation system. Again, Hyundai has produced a good, safe vehicle with good warranties at a very completive price.
We enjoyed our time with the Santa Fe. It had good interior room, good outward visibility, attractive styling, was quiet, and rode well. The cup holders were even illuminated for night travel. My only complaint about the Santa Fe is that the front seats are not very supportive. They are not bad, but with some minor changes they could be first class.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists

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