Review: 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The redesigned second-generation Santa Fe replaces a rakishly styled, competitively priced 2001-06 model that was well-accepted but has needed a major upgrade for the past few years.
The midsize 2007 Santa Fe continues its competitive pricing and is more powerful, larger and roomier, with its first availability of a third-row seat. It continues to have one of the industry's most generous warranties, including 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage.
Styling of the Santa Fe is more aerodynamic and mainstream. It looks more distinctive than the rival Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, but it's doubtful that the Santa Fe will match their resale values down the road.
New Crossover Description
However, Hyundai could have called the first-generation Santa Fe a crossover, instead of an SUV, because it was based on Hyundai's midsize Sonata sedan and has car-like unibody construction, rather than the body-on-frame construction of truck-like SUVs.
Meeting American Demands
Along with the Sonata, the Santa Fe is among the first Hyundai vehicles made at the automaker's new factory in Montgomery, Alabama.
The new Santa Fe has a 106.3-inch wheelbase (distance between axles) that is 3.2 inches longer than the 2006 model. It's also about 7 inches longer overall, at 184.1 inches, about 2 inches wider and nearly 2 inches taller.
The result of all that upsizing is a roomier interior, with spacious front and second-row seat areas. There also now is space for the third-row seat, which comes in a $1,200-$1,250 option package that includes rear-seat air conditioning.
New Third Seat
The Santa Fe is offered with front- or all-wheel drive in GLS and more upscale SE and Limited trim levels. All-wheel-drive versions provide decent off-road performance, although the Santa Fe is mainly an on-road vehicle.
List prices range from $20,945 to $27,945.
All trim levels have anti-lock brakes, a traction/anti-skid system, front-seat side airbags and side-curtain airbags.
A 5-speed manual transmission is standard, while a 4-speed automatic with an easily used manual shift feature adds $1,200 to the price.
The SE adds a stronger 3.3-liter V6, which works with a standard 5-speed automatic transmission that also has a manual shift feature. This trim level also adds steering-wheel audio controls, a trip computer, automatic headlights and 18-inch wheels.
The Limited has the same equipment as the GLS and SE—and goes all out with standard leather upholstery, a power driver's seat, heated front seats and dual-zone automatic climate controls. Also added are a chrome grille and exterior door handles.
The 2.7 V6 with front-wheel drive and the manual gearbox provides an estimated 20 mpg in the city and 25 on highway, and 21 and 26 with the automatic. Economy figures are 19 and 25 with the 4-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Figures for the 3.3 V6 are 19 and 24 with both front- or all-wheel drive and the 5-speed automatic. Only regular grade gasoline is required.
The 3.3 V6 provides lively acceleration in the city and good passing on highways, with a responsive automatic transmission. But the Santa Fe is appreciably slower with the smaller V6 because it's fairly heavy at 3,727 to 3,945 pounds.
Not Especially Sporty
A Brake Assist feature for the all-disc brake system provides maximum braking force when a panic stop is detected. An electronic brake force distribution feature adjusts braking force to both axles, based on vehicle loading conditions. The brake pedal feel is just right—not too firm and not mushy.
The large cargo area has a wide opening for easy loading, although the hatch doesn't have a separate-opening glass area.
The Santa Fe won't impress the sporty BMW X5 crowd, but is pleasant to drive and remains very competitively priced.