Emma Jayne Williams

Hyundai upgrades three-row Santa Fe crossover for 2017, tweaking the exterior, adding technology

2017 Santa Fe
2017 Santa Fe

Hyundai’s Santa Fe line has dramatically improved for 2017, adding infotainment, convenience, and safety technologies, refreshing the exterior and adding a new standard Drive Mode selection with Sport, Eco, and Normal settings.

Some new features are model-wide, while some are specific to a particular trim. Four trims are available – SE, LTD, SE Ultimate, and LTD Ultimate – all available in front- or all-wheel drive. Base prices range from $30,800 to $39,400 for front-drive models, with AWD adding $1,750.

The redesigned exterior features a brushed-appearance five-bar front grill and a new headlight design, newly available LED Daytime Running Lights and LED fog lights; new taillights and new dual exhaust outlet design; new wheel designs; and a new rocker panel trim design with integrated silver trim. A new color – Storm Blue – is also available.

Inside, there is a new standard seven-inch touch-screen display with Android Auto; a new, available eight-inch touch-screen navigation system with Android Auto; new, available Infinity premium audio with QuantumLogic Surround and Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology; new, standard next-generation Hyundai Blue Link; and new, available third-row USB outlet.

A power height-adjustable passenger seat is newly available, the second row has new cupholders (Limited models); a new, matte-finish interior woodgrain trim is available (requires addition of a Premium Package with leather seating for $3,650, standard on the LTD Ultimate), and the center stack is redesigned for all models.

Safety features include a standard Rearview Camera; new, available Multi-View Camera System; Smart Cruise Control with Stop/Start function; Lane Departure Warning; electronic parking brake with auto-hold; Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection; and new, available Dynamic Bending Lights and High Beam Assist.

All trims have a six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC and new Drive Mode selection with Sport, Eco, and Normal settings.

A 290-horsepower 3.3-liter Lambda II V-6 engine is standard. Most Santa Fe models have improved fuel economy by a full mile per gallon over 2016 models.

Two configurations offer seating for six or seven passengers. When AWD is chosen, Active Cornering Control and a windshield wiper de-icer are standard.

Also standard, next-generation Hyundai Blue Link is a full suite of connected safety and diagnostic technology, including features only available with an embedded connected car system, such as Remote Start with Climate Control, Stolen Vehicle Recovery and Remote Door Lock/Unlock.

Vehicles with navigation also use Blue Link Guidance with POI Web Search and Download, and Destination Search by Google to enhance basic navigation functions.

Android Auto support provides seamless and intuitive operation of smartphone functions such as navigation with Google Maps, streaming audio, and voice-controlled search capabilities, as well as more than 40 approved smartphone apps.

My Santa Fe was a six-passenger LTD Ultimate with front-wheel drive in Monaco White with Beige/Black interior, featuring woodgrain trim on the dash and satin chrome on door armrests, door handles, meter housing, steering wheel, vent and shifter surrounds, rear cupholders, and center stack/control knobs.

Captain’s chairs took the place of the three-passenger second row, with a 50/50 folding third row bench.

The 19-inch wheels were painted silver, with five thick split spokes. The chrome five-bar grille was trimmed in satin silver, which also trimmed the roof side rails, lower front bumper, headlight and fog light housing, curved and sculpted rocker panels, rear reflectors, and rear bumper/exhaust ports.

Black lower body cladding surrounded the vehicle, starting at the front bumper. Chrome trimmed the side windows, the Hands-Free Smart liftgate (opens when the key fob is within a certain distance for more than a few seconds), door handles, and heated side mirrors (with black lower housing and driver’s blind spot mirror).

Eight exterior colors are available, including the new Storm Blue, Night Sky Pearl, Java Espresso, and Iron Frost. Interiors are available in Beige, Gray, and Black. Leather seating is standard on the LTD Ultimate.

Standard equipment for my Santa Fe included lots of technology for comfort, convenience, and entertainment, including Navigation and Android Auto with the eight-inch screen, multi-view camera system (around-view), AM/FM/HD radio, CD/MP3, SiriusXM, Infinity Premium Audio, and Hyundai Blue Link Connected Car System with Blue Link Connected Care.

Safety, car care, remote functions and infotaiment features are accessed using a smartphone from virtually anywhere. Features include remote start with or without timer, cabin temperature adjustment, lock/unlock (keys locked inside, just use the app on your smartphone, speak the command or touch the display on your Apple Watch), stolen vehicle recovery; Destination Search by Google, POI Web Search and Download (search and send results to the vehicle via web or mobile app); Apple Watch app to remotely flash lights and honk the horn in an emergency; it also calls roadside assistance or Blue Link Customer Care.

Blue Link Connected Care, complimentary for one year, features Automatic Collision Notification (by the vehicle), SOS Collision Notification (manually, by the driver/passenger), Service Link (schedule routine maintenance), and Monthly Vehicle Health Report (to email or mobile app).

Also standard were remote keyless entry with alarm, Bluetooth hands-free smartphone system, LED headlight accents, panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors, manual rear side window sunshades, heated/ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel (nice on cold mornings), heated rear seats, dual automatic temperature control with CleanAir Ionizer and rear vents with fan/temperature/mode selections, driver’s seat memory, third row USB outlet, storage bins and 12-volt outlets, 110-volt AC outlet and 12-volt outlet in the cargo area, and auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and Homelink.

Standard safety equipment also includes seven air bags including driver’s knee air bag, Brake Assist, Hill-start Assist Control with Downhill Brake Control, and Vehicle Stability Management with Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control System.

My Santa Fe had an Ultimate Tech Package ($2,100) with Smart Cruise Control with Stop/Start feature, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Electronic Parking Brake with Auto Hold, High Intensity Discharge Headlights, Dynamic Bending Headlights, and High Beam Assist.

Auto Hold prevents the vehicle from rolling accidentally when standing still or starting off, in the time between the driver taking his/her foot from the brake pedal and pressing the accelerator, retaining the same amount of brake pressure. On an incline, if the driver applies slight pressure and the vehicle detects movement, stronger pressure is applied. Pressing the accelerator removes the brake pressure.

Carpeted Floor mats added $150, a Cargo Net, $50, a Composite Cargo Tray, $100, and a Cargo Cover $190.

With $895 freight and handling, the total for my Santa Fe Limited Ultimate was $42,885.

The driver’s seat was comfortable, with the exception of the long thigh cushion, which was not adjustable (I have short legs).

Of course, the sliding, reclining captain’s chairs were comfortable – the third row bench, however, was suitable only for very short people, for short trips. Otherwise, the area behind the second row was better suited for cargo – 40.9 cubic feet. Cargo space behind the third row was 13.5 cubic feet.

My Santa Fe was EPA rated for 17 mpg in the city, 23 on the highway and 20 combined. I managed 23 mpg with a combination of highway and local driving.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.