There are two narratives to tell with the new Hyundai Santa Fe Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV). The first corresponds to its family fun orientation and capabilities. Built to handle a team of six or seven players, the Santa Fe is honed with amenities essential for those living an active lifestyle. Secondly, it’s not only sporty and attractive, but it’s conspicuously laden with technology seen mostly on higher-end vehicles. Hyundai’s new recruit is available in two models: Santa Fe and the smaller Santa Fe Sport, which is 9.5” shorter.
With its sleek and dynamic profile, standard 18” wheels, integrated dual exhaust tips, tailgate spoiler, LED turn indicators, 12-speaker 550-watt Infinity Surround Sound, 8” touchscreen navigation and panoramic sunroof, our first thought is that the Santa Fe is ordained for young couples. Its domesticated features when considering the power liftgate, large cup-holders, stain resistant seats, 115v power outlet, plastic tray for muddy cleats and a standard 3rd row which lies flat with the pull of a latch in the cargo area indicates the Santa Fe is specifically dedicated to parents and their children. Yet, deductive reasoning will have us conclude that the larger utilitarian vehicle is actually a sporty CUV for lively individuals and their daily dynamic activities.
In San Diego, California we had a chance to specify just how fitting this vehicle was in our lifestyle which consists of running, soccer, biking, camping as well as engaging with the technology Millennials would be engaged with. I specifically liked the interior spaciousness at 160.1 cubic feet, the heated rear seats and heated steering wheel, the ability to swap the sliding 40/20/40 split folding second row bench seating (slides and leans) with the two captain chairs, the rear manual window shades, AWD configuration since I live in cold-weather Maryland, and the 5,000 pound towing capacity. Keep in mind the standard 3rd row is 50/50 split folding and can be pulled up from a strap handle on the seatback cover. Behind the wheel the Santa Fe feels agile for a bigger crossover and certainly fulfilled my expectations with enough power in its 290 horsepower 3.3-liter GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) V6 which sees 18 city/25 highway mpg in FWD configuration and 18 city/24 highway mpg in AWD configuration. A 6-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC manual control is partnered with the V6. Offered as either a GLS or Limited model, pricing starts at $28,350 for a FWD GLS and up to $37,750 for an AWD Limited. Three optional packages will enhance your drive experience including the Leather & Premium Equipment Package, Popular Equipment Package and the Technology Package. This vehicle simply answers every call to action from perspective consumers including the variation of nine different exterior colors. Hyundai expects the sales mix to be 70% GLS and 30% Limited. No hybrid or diesel models are expected in the near future.
Hyundai Blue Link is the company’s go-to service and safety telematics technology which is highly interactive, intuitive and interconnected. It can be paired with the 4” display screen or the optional 8” display with both available with rearview camera assistance. The graphics are highly detailed like Apple iPads, showcases mapping in 3-D form to the exact shape and layout of the buildings and streets on display and can be operated by soft touch or redundant physical controls. Audio can be had by way of four unique systems inclusive of satellite radio on each. Blue Link is instilled with a multitude of services such as voice text, turn-by-turn directions, collision notifications, remote door lock and unlock, remote engine start, maintenance alert, stolen vehicle recovery, vehicle immobilization and a Geofence that notifies you if someone like your teen drives outside the range set on the vehicle. Think of Blue Link as your spiritual guide!
When the road is unpaved, the Santa Fe is available with a tow hitch, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Hillstart Assist Control, and Downhill Brake Control for venturing along steep roads to campgrounds, lakes, and beaches. Another striking technology is the Active Cornering Control All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system. It works with Vehicle Stability Management System and operates initially as a 95% FWD vehicle when there is no rear traction needed. For example, on loose gravel it would interact instantly since the system is constantly monitoring wheel rotations. Or you can lock in full-time AWD. That’s exactly what I did since I enjoy the security of knowing all four wheels are initiating grip. Moreover, Active Cornering Control provides traction from side to side through torque vectoring manipulation. Specifically, brake control manages left to right traction while the center coupling monitors front to rear traction. When the limit of lateral grip is met, torque vectoring kicks in and ensures that torque is applied to the rear axle first, and then applies braking to the outward rear wheel reducing understeer and forcing the Santa Fe to tuck in. Additionally, the Santa Fe is equipped with seven standard airbags including a driver’s knee airbag for safety reassurance.
Hyundai has revived their 3rd Generation Santa Fe with the style, grace, and technology that you normally see in more costly vehicles. Upon first glance, newcomers will be thankful for their dedication to the Korean auto brand and pleasantly pleased with all it has to offer. It certainly exceeded my expectations.