2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe - Hyundai Showcases Seven-seater Santa Fe


Leading the list of refinements crafted into the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport are new safety features and premium upgrades. Blind spot detection and rear parking assistance systems are now available options, and the Premium Package adds HID headlights and LED taillights, 18-inch wheels, rear side window sunshades, and ventilated seats with integrated memory.

The family-friendly '15 Santa Fe midsize lineup includes the Santa Fe Sport, Sport 2.0T, GLS and Limited editions. Each '15 Santa Fe delivers Hyundai's recipe of bold design, high-output powertrains, versatility and comfort.

Front-wheel drive is standard on all models, with all-wheel drive a very popular optional..  

For a three-row, seven-passenger sport utility vehicle, Hyundai's Santa Fe stands out in several regards.

One, inside the spacious cabin, seating comfort/utility is improved with leg room in the middle row the same as that in front. Plus, leg room in the third row is comparable to that of the second row in the general SUV market. In other words, adults can be comfortable in any one of the three rows for short or longer excursions.

Two, the second row (40/20/40 split) can be adjusted forward and backward to accommodate short or longer legs, long items or oversized purchases. Plus, the split seats recline and they almost form the flat surface of a bed. Standard fare includes manually operated sunshades.  

Three, when the second and third rows are flattened, storage space expands to 80 carpeted and lighted cubic feet.  If the second row seats are upright and the third row flattened, there are 40.9 cubic feet of storage. Behind an upright third row, storage is 13.5 cubic feet, comparable to that of a midsized sedan's trunk. These are better than average measurements for the compact SUV market.   

Four, the limited warranty is for five years or 60,000 miles with 24-hour roadside assistance. Powertrain coverage is for 10 years or 100,000 miles.  

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 V6 was replaced with the Santa Fe's 3.3-liter, 290-horsepower V6.  

Besides the seven-seater, Hyundai has the five-seat Santa Fe. The engine for the five-seater is a 2.3-liter, 264-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder.

Transmission for both engines is a six-speed shiftable automatic. In automotive media testing, the 3.3-liter engine has leaped from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 7.3 to 7.7 seconds.

The electric power steering system in the '15 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport now uses a 32-bit microprocessor that delivers a refined steering feel.

The 3.3-liter engine with the standard trailer-prep package (flush-mounted, tow-hitch design) has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, which is perfect for hauling small boats or workloads. Fuel economy is between 18 and 25 miles per gallon. Regular unleaded fuel is recommended for the 18.8

gallon tank. During a test week in the three-row, seven-seater with three and four persons aboard and minimal luggage, the average mpg was 21.8. The driving was evenly split between highways and city-suburban streets.

Prices start at $29,990 but the test Santa Fe model was a top-of-the-line $34,250 Limited. Since the 2016 Santa Fe is close to a debut, Hyundai is offering current deals on 2015 models. Buyers can have a rebate of $2,250, or they can choose 0 percent financing for up to 66 months and $1,250 cash back.

Besides usual power features (exterior mirrors, door locks, express windows), cruise control, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, smart start and variable intermittent windshield wipers and rear defrost-wipers, standard equipment on a Santa Fe includes power  rear liftgate, hill-start assist control and down-hill brake control. The one minimizes backward roll on steep hills and the other helps the driver maintain control on the downward path.

During the week of test driving, passengers in the rear seats commented on the comfort level. It was good. They also commented on the ease of conversation, uninterrupted by outside noise, which indicates a well-insulated vehicle.

Inside the spacious cabin, seating utility is improved, due to a standard 40:20:40 folding rear seat back that can be configured to accommodate passengers, long items or oversized purchases. A power liftgate is added for convenience, and depending on model, there are 17-, 18- and 19-inch aluminum alloy rims. All Santa Fe models offer an optional multifunction eight-inch touch-screen display with navigation. This third-generation display features a simpler user interface, enhanced voice recognition commands and improved navigation screens.

Since the test model was a Limited, stain-resistant cloth seats were replaced by leather (including steering wheel and shift knob), keyless entry was enhanced (as you approach vehicle, doors including liftgate automatically unlock if key in pocket, hand or purse), remote start as well as dashboard pushbutton start, 19-inch P235 tires mounted on alloy wheels replacing 18-inchers, fog lights in front, overhead roof rack (cross bars extra), power tilt and slide panoramic sunroof (over three rows), power passenger as well as the standard power driver's seat, chrome grille and exterior door handles and a body-color rear hatch spoiler.

Also standard are memory for driver's seat and side mirrors, HID Xenon headlights with LED accents replacing halogens and LED tail lights.  

The overhead roof rack can safely carry 150 pounds of cargo. A full-sized spare is stored under the load floor. With the larger wheels and tires, ground clearance is eight inches.

A strut suspension system in front includes coil springs over shock absorbers. In the rear, trailing arms with multilinks combine with gas shocks inside coil springs to give this vehicle a car-like ride.

Hyundai has installed a traction and stability control system on all its vehicles, including the Santa Fe, calling it electronic stability control. ESC compares a driver's intended course with the vehicle's actual response and brakes front or rear wheels accordingly while automatically reducing engine speed. It is designed to correct over- or under-steer conditions.

Other standard safety features on the Santa Fe are seven airbags, an antilock braking system, seatbelts with headrests and pretensioners, a tire pressure monitoring system,  rearview camera, front and rear defoggers, child seat tethers and anchors and remote keyless entry.

Amenities include navigation system, reading lights, glove box light, cupholders aplenty, grab handles, trip meter and six-speaker sound system for AM-FM and XM satellite stereo radio, compact disc player (storage for six), and MP3 compatibility, iPod and auxiliary input jacks.  A 550-watt sound system with 12 speakers is in an option package that can cost almost $4,000. See a dealer for details.

Major competitors include Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder and Dodge Durango.


Vehicle: Limited all-wheel-drive model of 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe

Type: three-row, seven-passenger,  compact sport utility vehicle

Price:  $34,250

Engine: 3.3-liter, dual overhead cam, 290-horsepower V6

Transmission: six-speed automatic

Fuel tank: 18.8 gallons

Fuel: regular

Towing: 5,000 pounds

Wheelbase: 110.2 inches

Length: 193.1 inches

Width: 74.2 inches

Height: 66.9 inches

Weight: 4,057 pounds

Leg room: 41.3 inches front, 41.3 inches second row, 31.5 inches third row

Cargo: 80 cubic feet maximum, 40.9 cubic feet behind upright second row and flattened third row, 13.5 cubic feet behind upright third row

P235 tires, alloy wheels: 19-inch

Turn diameter, curb-to-curb: 36.9 feet

Assembly: South Korea

Warranty: five years or 60,000 miles with 24-hour roadside assistance, 10 years or 100,000 miles on powertrain

Information: www.hyundaiUSA.com/Santa Fe

M.J. Frumkin and J.E. Kuyper

M. J. Frumkin and J. E. Kuyper covered the auto industry for decades. Frumkin was with Consumer Guide for 14 years, has authored four books and co-authored three more. He is also the historian/archivist for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association/Chicago Auto Show. Kuyper has been an automotive writer, editor and columnist for newspapers in the Chicago area the past 25 years. His reviews currently appear in the daily Northwest Herald newspaper. Frumkin and Kuyper are founding members of the Midwest Automotive Media Association.