2022 Hyundai Santa Fe XRT 2.5L AWD - Review by David Colman +VIDEO
A beautifully designed & constructed machine for your inner poseur
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Image is everything. Back in the days when I had an early Corvette with a base model 4- barrel carburetor, I upgraded it by buying some "Fuel Injection" signs from the Chevy dealer and glued them to the body in just the right places. That made me a poseur, even though I didn't know what the word meant in those days. With this latest iteration of the Santa Fe SUV, Hyundai has done much the same thing. They've camouflaged their base model with a well conceived styling package that makes it look like a ferocious off road conqueror.
Dark silver skid plates guard the front and rear undersides. Sculpted like side-steps give the impression that the Santa Fe stands tall. Dark finish roof rails and cross supports contribute a safari look to the picture. XRT exclusive blacked out lower fascias front and rear match black side mirrors. Model specific black alloy 18 inch rims shod with long life (TW 440) Kumho Cruzen rubber (235/60R18) complete the dress-up kit. Make no mistake, the XRT Santa Fe definitely strikes a purposeful pose it's not fully entitled to, just like my old Corvette.
What's missing from the mix is a massage of the mechanical components. Suspension remains stock. Under the hood lies the base model "Smartstream" 2.5 liter, normally aspirated 4 cylinder gas motor producing just 191hp and 181 foot- pounds of torque. This engine, despite the ministrations of an 8-speed automatic gearbox, is hard pressed to keep up with traffic. Even on the freeway, the drive train hesitates, then hunts for lower gears when you ascend gentle hills. Although Hyundai offers a much punchier turbocharged 2.5 liter engine in higher echelons of the Santa Fe range, that 281hp unit is not available in the XRT. Nor is the 1.6 liter hybrid which produces 226hp. Either of these alternates would markedly improve the drivability and fun factor of the XRT.
This new trim level Santa Fe is incredibly well equipped for an SUV with a base price of $34,000. Here a few of the features you would not expect to find in this affordable price range: 12.3 inch fully digital gauge cluster; 8 inch display screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay; Dual front and rear USB outlets; Wireless device charging; Hyundai Digital Key for cell phone activation; Proximity Key with push button start; AM/FM/HD Radio and SiriusXM Audio System with Platinum trial subscription. Really, with this startling array of amenities, the airy cabin of the Santa Fe provides the kind of hassle-free driving experience you would expect to find in a vehicle costing twice as much.
Once we settled into a 60-75mph canter on a 100 mile freeway round trip, we discovered the XRT was a perfect long distance companion. The Smart Cruise Control system features Stop and Go technology. It's easy to activate and deactivate. The system responds well to the vagaries of adjacent traffic thanks to a spacing feature that allows you to drop back or follow closely. We give especially high grades to the lane centering system which can be engaged or disengaged quickly. It allow you to keep a light hand on the rim of the steering wheel while lane keeping assist takes care of all the minute corrections needed to keep you pointing in the right direction. At freeway cruising speed, this Hyundai shows its best side, with a well calibrated auto driving systems on tap to take the tedium out of travel.
If you find the rugged look of the new-for-20222 XRT appealing, but don't need the sophisticated off-road technology to conquer rock slabs at Moab, this latest affordable addition to the Santa Fe line is well worth a long look. The interior is beautifully constructed, the exterior is a sight to behold, and we won't tell anybody you prefer pavement driving to mud slogging.
2022 HYUNDAI SANTA FE XRT 2.5L AWD
ENGINE: 2.5 liter inline 4, DOHC, 16 valves, variable valve timing
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 22MPG City/25MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $35,380
HYPES: Value Package Transport, Roomy Interior
GRIPES: Bit of a Poser (but it’s okay)
STAR RATING: 8 Stars out of 10