The Hyundai Santa Fe crossover got a major refresh for 2017, and now enters 2018 with just a few minor updates: the Limited trim is dropped, and access to Blue Link telematics services is now standard for three years, free of charge.
This six- or seven-passenger midsize SUV comes in three trims, with either front- or optional all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive comes with a windshield wiper de-icer and adds $1,550 to the base price.
All trims have a 3.3-liter V-6 producing 290 horsepower, with a six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual shifting.
Prices begin at $30,850 for the base Santa Fe SE; the SE Ultimate is $38,850; and the Limited Ultimate is $39,550.
Only one option is available for each trim: the SE has an available Premium Package for $3,650 with Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross-traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist, Hands-free Smart Liftgate, leather seating surfaces, and more.
SE Ultimate and Limited Ultimate have an available Tech Package for $2,100 with Smart Cruise Control with stop/start, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Electronic Parking Brake with Automatic Vehicle Hold, and High Intensity Discharge headlights with Dynamic Bending Light and High Beam Assist.
For this review, I drove a Limited Ultimate in lovely dark Storm Blue with Beige interior, riding on 19-inch alloy wheels with five silver-painted split spokes in a star pattern with gray-painted pockets.
LED taillights and silver-painted exterior accents, along with a panoramic sunroof and second-row captain’s chairs set the Limited Ultimate apart. With captain’s chairs in place of a bench, passenger capacity was reduced to six.
A unique five-bar front grille had chrome trim around the sides and bottom, and on the sculpted bars. The wide lower bumper vent and vertical LED daytime running lights had silver-painted trim, with the DRLs and fog lights set in a deep pocket.
Silver trim underlined the HID headlights (included in the Tech Package), which had LED accents. Premium lower door trim, lower rear bumper, and liftgate trim were silver.
Heated/power side mirrors had integrated turn signals. Silver roof rails and the hands-free liftgate with auto open were standard. Twin rectangular exhaust tips were set into the silver lower bumper.
Santa Fe is available in eight exterior colors, including medium gray Iron Frost, dark brown Java Espresso, and dark blue/gray Night Sky Pearl. Interiors are available in cloth or leather, in beige, gray, or black – depending on trim and exterior color chosen.
The interior was attractive, spacious, comfortable, and versatile. Seating surfaces and bolsters, mid door panels, mid dash, upper pillars, and headliner were beige, with the remaining surfaces black with gray metallic accents on door armrests (dramatic curve from the top edge, up to the window controls, down to the lower edge), steering wheel, control panel, air vents, and center console.
The dash curved up dramatically from the center console out to the “A” pillars, with wood accents between the upper and lower levels, around the outer air vents.
Front seats were heated and ventilated, and the steering wheel and rear seats were heated – still appreciated on chilly mornings as spring still struggles to arrive.
The driver’s seat had memory settings and both front seats had power height adjustment. Dual automatic temperature control with clean air ionizer and rear vents on the “B” pillar, and a vent, fan, temperature, and mode controls on the third row wall kept all passengers comfortable no matter what the outside temperature.
The cargo area had its own vent – helpful in the summer to keep perishable groceries cool on the trip home.
A deep bin under the center armrest had a removable tray and “paper clips” on the inside of the lid. A small bin between the armrest and shifter would hold a phone or small items.
The reclining second-row captain’s chairs folded flat and slid fore and aft, making entry to the third row easy, and riding in the second row extremely comfortable. Two cupholders on the center console and manual side window sunshades were nice amenities.
The third row wasn’t as roomy, with low cushions – more suitable for children or very small adults. Third-row passengers had a USB port, and a 115-volt outlet supplied power to the cargo area for a small cooler. There were cupholder/bins on the armrests.
Third-row seatbacks folded flat in a 50/50 configuration by pulling a lever in the cargo area. With both rows folded, my Santa Fe had 80 cubic feet of cargo space; there was 41 cubic feet with the second row upright. With the third row upright, cargo space was 13.5 cubic feet, plenty of room of gardening supplies, pet supplies, or groceries.
The hands-free liftgate sensed the proximity key in my pocket, and signaled with a beep and flashing lights before opening after approximately five seconds.
Controls were simple, ergonomically placed and easy to use. The infotainment system featured an eight-inch touch screen (with quick response time) for navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay apps, audio (AM/FM/HD radio/SiriusXM/CD/MP3, Infinity Premium with QuantumLogic Surround Sound and Clari-Fi music restoration tech), some climate features, Bluelink, phone (Bluetooth), and the 360-degree camera system.
Front passengers had a USB port, an auxiliary port, and two 12-volt power outlets in a large bin under the center stack.
Highlights of Bluelink services include remote engine start with climate control, door lock or unlock (using a PIN and smartphone), vehicle health reports and maintenance reminders, destination finder (press a button, verbally ask for directions), car finder with a map, stolen car locator/immobilizer, roadside assistance (send exact location to assistance member), curfew/speed alerts, geofenceing, automatic collision notification and assistance (also an SOS button for 24/7 emergency assistance), panic notification (text or email alert to yourself or designated person[s] if the panic button is pressed), and multimedia/map updates for three years.
The 360-degree camera system was very helpful when parking or maneuvering in tight spots. A button on the console turned the camera system on even if the vehicle was not in reverse.
Safety is addressed with vehicle stability management with traction control; side-impact and side-curtain air bags, driver’s knee air bag, and blind-spot detection.
Santa Fe gives a relaxed driving experience, thanks to the lack of wind and road noise, predictable handling and steering, and good acceleration when needed.
The ride is exceptionally smooth, even on winter-weary roads. Its appealing mix of features is affordable, although it is a little thirsty – 17 mpg city/23 highway/20 combined. With the cruise control on whenever possible, I averaged 21 mpg combined.
The Tech Package added $2,100 and freight added $980 to the base price of $39,550, for a delivered price of $42,630 for a versatile, comfortable family hauler.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.