2007 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS Review


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2007 Hyundai Santa Fe
THE AUTO PAGE
By
JOHN HEILIG

SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Hyundai

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: Hyundai Santa Fe GLS
Engine: 2.7-liter DOHC V6
Horsepower/Torque: 185 hp @ 6000 rpm/183 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Length x Width x Height: 184.1 x 74.4 x 67.9 in.
Tires: P235/70R16
Cargo volume: 79.4 cu. ft. (max.)
Economy: 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway/19.8 mpg test
Price: $22,240

AssetsImpressively solid on the road.
Debits Could use more power, although a 242-hp 3.3-liter V6 is available.

I am continually impressed by how quickly Korean manufacturers have ascended the learning curve. The Hyundai Santa Fe is a prime example. Here is a top-notch mid-size SUV with solid features, a good ride, a great warranty that I understand is not costing as much as had originally been feared, and a ton of attributes that make other manufacturers’ mouths water.

At this same stage in their manufacturing lives, the Japanese manufacturers still hadn’t begun creating cars that would appeal to large numbers of American buyers, even though they did eventually

Our base GLS tester was equipped with the smaller of two engine possibilities, the 2.7-liter double overhead cam V6 rated at 185 horsepower. While I didn’t feel this was so underpowered to make the Santa Fe a danger on the road, I thought it was decent and would appeal to the majority of Santa Fe customers. There’s a 242-hp 3.3-liter V6 available if you feel that you really need the speed.

The engine drove the front wheels through a 4-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available as an option and might have been necessary if it had snowed during our test, but we’ve been blessed with spring-like weather lately and snow wasn’t even a thought.

The combination of engine and transmission was very good. There wasn’t too much power, nor did we need the added advantage of AWD, yet the Santa Fe functioned excellently as a good-size STATION WAGON with a maximum of 79 cubic feet of storage. Yes, I used the dreaded term, but that’s what the vehicle is, a wagon that doesn’t even pretend to be a sport utility. Don’t complain, wagons are great.

With the rear seat up, rear storage is very good at 34.2 cubic feet, and includes a covered compartment with an adjustable tray that was great for hiding purchases at the mall.

Handling was also decent considering that the Santa Fe has a fairly tall aspect ratio. We were able to drive the Santa Fe reasonably hard around corners without fearing tipping over. On the highway and rural roads the ride quality was about standard for a small SUV. Some probably would opt for a softer ride, but at least the Santa Fe wasn’t as truck-like as many SUVs.

The seats were comfortable front and back. We noted that even with a child seat installed in the rear seat there was good front-seat travel. The LATCH is locate don the rear of the rear seat. There was also decent rear seat legroom and the center passenger in the rear had an almost-flat floor to deal with, so knees wouldn’t have to be tucked up under chins.

I liked the features of the Santa Fe that included extendable visors to give just that much more sun protection for the front passengers. There were two overhead sunglass holders up front as well, recognizing the fact that there are often more than one person in the vehicle.

The rear hatch door has a handle located on the left of the door that makes it so much easier to lift. There’s a covered cubby on top of the dash that’s so practical for small objects. Besides two cupholders in the center console, there are cupholders in the door that are great for water bottles. There’s also a nice drawer and cubby in the rear of the center console for the rear passengers.

But overall, the solidity of the Santa Fe is what will impress you in the first -mile of driving it. I think you’ll like it if you’re in the market for a small wagon and don’t need the added feature of AWD.

2006 The Auto Page Syndicate

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