Hyundai Santa Fe returns in 2018 as the same strong and smooth-riding six- or seven-seat sport utility vehicle of past model years.
The 290-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6 engine can tow a 5,000 pound trailer, which is equal to or better than that of major competitors in its midsize class of sport utility vehicles. Carpeted and lighted cargo capacity of 80 cubic feet is magnanimous. More storage area is available under the cargo floor.
For comfort, captain’s chairs in the second row move for more or less leg room. Front seats in two of the three (SE, SE Ultimate, Limited Ultimate) are leather and operate by power. They are manual and cloth in the $29,850 SE model. Besides power, front seats in a recently tested $38,550 Limited Ultimate were heated and perforated for air conditioning purposes. Memory settings are for front driver’s seat and exterior heated mirrors. The middle row captain’s chairs also are heated, as is the driver’s steering wheel.
There are separate climate controls (temperature and fan speed) in the rear. Just inside the power liftgate is a 115-volt outlet. There are several cubbies for storage of, say, small notebooks, coins, address books, even a hamburger lunch from a fast food drive-through.
Standard in this model were Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which means a consumer can have the information on his or her smartphone transferred to the Santa Fe and reflected on an 8-inch color screen. A USB port is near the screen. Several auxiliary ports are nearby.
Wood adds to the leather trim. Four windows operate by power, and the front two are express up and down. The Infinity sound system has high definition radio. Besides AM-FM radio, satellite radio is free for three months.
Little things popped up while riding around during a test week, including manual rear window sunshades, visors with lighted vanity mirrors – as well as extenders to block out a strong sun – and a lighted ignition. At night, it is nice to see where the ignition is to either push for starting or stopping.
Another feature on the Limited Ultimate model was a view of the surroundings. While backing out of a driveway, the 8-inch color screen showed the view in front, behind and on the sides.
The three models share a roof rack, heated side mirrors, rear window wiper and washer, chrome tip dual exhaust, front solar glass and rear privacy glass, LED headlights, daytime running lamps, fog lights and taillights, plus proximity key entry with pushbutton start. It is easy to get comfortable in this vehicle. Leg room is ample in front and middle rows, but somewhat constricted in the third row. This is where smaller human frames should sit.
Following the 2012 model year, Santa Fe replaced the Veracruz as Hyundai’s three-row people and cargo hauler. The Veracruz’s 3.8-liter, 260-horsepower V-6 was replaced with the Santa Fe’s 3.3-liter, 290-horsepower V6. During the test week, the current engine averaged 21.3 miles a gallon in combined city and highway driving with two adults aboard. Highway averages could get to 24 to 25 mpg depending on weather, driving habits, road conditions. In the city, expect 18 to 20 mpg.
Besides the six- and seven-seater, Hyundai sells a smaller SUV, the five-seat Santa Fe Sport.