Hyundai Santa Fe returns in 2018 as the same strong and smooth riding front- or all-wheel drive and five-, six- or seven-seat sport utility vehicle of past model years.
Equipped with the 290-horsepower, 3.3-liter Lambda II V6 engine and six speed electronic automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual control, the Santa Fe can tow up to 5,000 pounds. That's perfect for hauling small boats or workloads, and the electric power steering system uses a 32-bit microprocessor that delivers a refined steering. 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 forward or backward 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. Cupholders serve the rear two rows. In front there are two center console cupholders as well as two more molded into the front doors. 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 all the information on his or her smartphone transferred to the Santa Fe and reflected on an eight-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 the suburbs during test week and three of them were manual rear window sunshades, visors with lighted vanity mirrors as well as extenders to block out a strong sun coming into the driver's window, 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 eight-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 V6 was replaced with the Santa Fe's 3.3-liter, 290-horsepower V6. During the test week the current engine averaged 21.3 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving with two adults aboard. Highway averages could get to 24-25 mpg depending on weather, driving habits, road conditions. In the city, expect 18-20 mpg.
Besides the six- and seven-seater, Hyundai sells a smaller SUV, the five-seat Santa Fe Sport.
Vehicle: Limited Ultimate model of 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe
Type: all-wheel-drive, seven-occupant, compact sport utility vehicle
Engine: 3.3-liter, 290-horsepower V6
Transmission: shiftable six-speed automatic
Towing: 5,000 pounds
Fuel tank: 18.8 gallons
Cargo: 80 cubic feet behind front seats, 40.9 cubic feet behind second row, 13.5 cubic feet behind third row
Leg room in inches: 41.3 front, 40.4 second row, 30.9 third row
Wheelbase, height, length, width, ground clearance in inches: 110.2, 66.9, 193.1, 74, 8
Weight: 4,017 pounds
Tires (P235) wheels:19-inch
Suspension: struts with gas-filled damper in front, multi-link with gas shock absorber in rear, stabilizer bars
Warranty: five years or 60,000 miles with roadside assistance, 10 years or 100,000 miles drivetrain