Americans have gone crazy for SUVs of all sizes, but one of the most popular segments is crossovers that have 3 rows of seating. The big problem is choosing the one that best fits your needs. Well, Hyundai just raised the bar with its 2017 Santa Fe.
Inside the Santa Fe family, you have a lot of choices.
To be clear, the Santa Fe Sport is a 5-passenger SUV with two rows of seating, but I am testing the regular Santa Fe that is larger and has three rows of seating.
The Santa Fe starts with the SE trim, then the Limited, next is the SE Ultimate, and finally what I have today, the top-of-the-line Limited Ultimate two-wheel drive, but you can get the Santa Fe in all-wheel drive if you choose.
All Santa Fes come with a 3.3-liter V6 and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Together they produce 290-horses and this SUV has terrific acceleration.
New for 2017 is a refreshed front end that features LED running lights and a new grill. The rear end has also been redone and looks great with dual exhaust built into the bumper. This model comes with 19” alloy wheels, which gives the Santa Fe a very sporty and muscular look.
When you open the door of the Limited Ultimate to get behind the wheel, you might think you are entering a Mercedes instead of a Hyundai.
The leather seating is luxurious and quite modern. Everything flows together and you get sort of a feeling of being in a cockpit. There is minimal wood grain and stitching, but what it has is nice.
The gauges sit in large cylindrical housings so you can see them in the bright sunlight, and between those is a multi-info driver display that gives you all sorts of information including fuel data.
The steering wheel has controls and is wrapped in leather. To the left side of it are two rows of buttons that include: the drive mode button, hill descent control, and the on/off switches for blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and heated steering wheel.
Drive modes include Eco, Normal, and Sport and you can tell quite a difference in the steering and the way the transmission shifts between the three modes.
Moving to the console between the front seats, you find an electronic emergency brake, switches for the heated and cooled front seats, the terrific Auto Hold button so you can take your foot off the brake at red lights, and you can turn off the parking sensors and change the camera view.
Everything else operates from an 8” color touchscreen, including the navigation system, the Infinity premium sound system, apps for real-time weather, traffic, stocks, sports scores and more. You can activate Android Auto or just hook up your Bluetooth. Everything will work by voice activation if you wish.
One standout feature in this Santa Fe is the camera system.
It features four cameras that offer a 360-degree view around the vehicle. It includes a forward-view cornering camera mounted on the front grille, two cameras incorporated into the side mirrors and a rearview camera. When the system is on, the driver initially sees an aerial view of the Santa Fe, then you can select from front, rear and side camera views. This is one of the best camera systems I have ever experienced.
Everything is really simple to operate from the touchscreen, and the climate-controlled air conditioning is really easy too. If you like storage and cubby holes, this SUV will be a dream for you with a ton of storage and cup holders.
My review vehicle has the second row captain chairs, making it a 6-seater, but you can get a second row bench seat that will seat 7 total passengers. The heated second row seats have a lot of leg room, and Hyundai makes it easy to get people into the third row with sliding seats.
Third-row seating and leg room are ample, I’ve seen larger but have certainly seen smaller too. When you raise the power tailgate, the 3rd row seats are easy to raise and lower, and there are handles on each side to lower the second row seats from from the cargo area. With all seats down, you have 80 cubic-feet of cargo area.
From any seat in the SUV, if you look up, you’ll see one of the largest power panoramic sunroofs you’ve every seen, and it has a thick cloth power cover.
So far, everything we’ve talked about comes standard on this model.
It also comes with keyless entry, pushbutton start, rear side window sunshades, and power memory seats.
This Santa Fe has the $2100 Tech package, and it’s a bargain. You get adaptive cruise control, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and Dynamic Bending HID headlights that turn with the vehicle for better visibility at night.
This SUV is a joy to drive, is surprisingly quiet inside, rides very smoothly, has great visibility, and like all Hyundais, you get the 10 Year, 100,000 mile power train warranty. It will even tow 5000 pounds.
Fuel economy is good for its size at 17 in town, 23 on the highway, and I am actually doing better.
If you read and watch my reviews, you know I am big on value.
With everything you see on this Santa Fe, MSRP is $42,885 and I believe that makes it a $5000 better buy than anything out there equipped like this one, and that doesn’t take into consideration aggressive Hyundai incentives. Overall, the value of this SUV is outstanding.
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Photo Credit: HyundaiTags: Hyundai jerry santa fe suv test drive