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2015 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD AWD 6-7 Passenger Review By John Heilig

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2015 Hyundai Santa Fe


MODEL: 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD AWD
ENGINE: 3.3-liter V6
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with Shiftronic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 290 hp @ 6,400 rpm/252 lb.-ft. @ 5,200 rpm
WHEELBASE: 110.2 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 193.1 x 74.2 x 66.9 in
TIRES: P235/55R19
CARGO: 13.5/40.9/80.0 cubic feet (behind 3rd row/3rd row seats down/2nd row seats down),
ECONOMY: 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway/16.2 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 18.8 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 4,085-4,325 lbs.
STICKER: $41,695 (includes $895 delivery, $4,800 options)
BOTTOM LINE: The Hyundai Santa Fe is a very nice vehicle for a standard SUV. I would have liked it to be quieter, although road noise is sometimes the culprit.

As a standard SUV, the Hyundai Santa Fe qualifies on all fronts. In fact, it may well be considered a crossover, but not in the usual sense. It’s more a crossover between the standard SUV and a minivan, with its SUV DNA dominating, just as my father’s good looks dominate my DNA.

Seriously, the Santa Fe package works. With three rows of seating, it works for a family of more than four. If the family is four or less, ditch the third row of seats and enjoy the increased cargo capacity.

Speaking of cargo capacity, there are a decent 13.1 cubic feet behind the third row that explodes to 40.9 cubic feet behind the second row (the configuration I used the most). If you’re into a big shopping spree at Lowe’s or The Home Depot (or, God forbid, Wal-Mart) then drop the second row seats as well and you have 80 cubic feet, with enough length to carry 8-foot pieces of lumber.

Under the hood is a 3.3-liter V8 delivering a healthy 290 horsepower. Our tester had all-wheel drive, so all the wheels were driven through a 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic. This is a sequential manual mode that works well, but doesn’t turn the Santa Fe into a sports car. It may be useful in difficult situations, but the Santa Fe isn’t the type of vehicle that you’d take into difficult situations.

Ride quality is very good, belying the legend that SUVs are rough-riders. We had the opportunity to drive the Santa Fe on some interesting winding roads, and it did well. By extension, it behaved itself well on straighter roads as well.

Front seats are comfortable with some side support. Second row seats (captain’s chairs in our tester) offered excellent leg room. With the captain’s chairs, access to the third row bench set is good for children. Overweight senior citizens may require some contortions to get back there and, as expected, leg room is tight.

However, the third row seat backs fold easily to increase cargo capacity. With the third row seats down, it is possible to store golf bags, for example, longitudinally, rather than cross-wise. A foursome could easily carry all their bags and accessories and still have a comfortable ride to the course. There’s even a small area under the cargo floor that is excellent for grocery bags,

Among the options on our tester were HID headlights, LED taillights, a navigation system, 12-speaker Infinity audio system, rear parking assist and a handy 115-volt outlet in the cargo area.

Standard features include a hands-free smart liftgate with Auto Open, a proximity key with pushbutton start, Bluetooth and a blind spot monitor.

The dash is nicely designed, but the instruments seem busy. For example, inside the tachometer is a gear indicator and the water temperature. Inside the speedometer is the fuel gauge and an outside temperature gauge.

Interior storage includes a nice cubby ahead of the shifter at the base of the center stack that includes AUX and USB connections as well as two 12-volt outlets. The deep center console/arm rest is also useful.

Up above is a huge sun roof that extends to the third row. To keep the sun out, or to gain privacy, there are shades on the rear windows.

All in all the Santa Fe is a nice sport utility vehicle, with the emphasis on the utility. It did everything we asked of it with grace and comfort.

2015 The Auto Page Syndicate