The Santa Fe is a three-row sport-utility vehicle that can seat up to seven occupants. The first two rows of seats are very comfortable but the third row is better suited to kids or shorter adults.
Cargo area is very good unless all three rows of seats are in use. With all the seats folded, there is a very impressive 80 cubic feet of cargo volume; this drops down to diminutive 13.5 cubic feet when all the seats are in use.
The controls are nicely arranged with decently sized knobs and buttons for the major controls as well as some redundant steering-wheel-mounted controls. The Santa Fe comes in three trim levels: SE, SE Limited and the subject of our road test, the Limited Ultra with all-wheel drive.
There are luxury features throughout the vehicle, with heated and cooled leather seats, a large navigation screen, a premium sound system and real wood accents. The standard panoramic sunroof helped open up the interior.
All models of the Santa Fe are powered by the same 3.3-liter, V-6 engine that develops 290 horsepower and is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models are available. The ride is smooth and quiet with good isolation from rough roads. Performance from the V-6 engine is quite good, although fuel economy is lower than I would have expected. The EPA rates the mileage at 17 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.
During my road test, I averaged 20 mpg in an even mix of city and highway driving. Safety on the Santa Fe is addressed with a full complement of airbags, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and dynamic bending HID (high-intensity discharge) headlights.
There was a time when I would recommend Hyundai vehicles because of the excellent warranty and value. Today, Hyundai competes with any brand. The Santa Fe doesn’t excel in any one area but the sum of its parts results in a very good vehicle. If you are shopping for a mid-sized, three-row SUV, the Santa Fe is certainly one to consider.