2012 Hyundai Santa Fe

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Review: 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2012.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

Revamped Santa Fe offers considerably more than its first-generation predecessor.
Pros:
  • Nicely redesigned
  • More powerful
  • New third-row seating
Cons:
  • Rather heavy steering
  • Can feel big bumps
  • Lacks resale value of Japanese rivals

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
Hyundai now calls the Santa Fe a "crossover vehicle"—that is, one featuring attributes of a car and a traditional SUV. That is probably because crossovers are becoming more popular than traditional SUVs.

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
The 2007 Santa Fe also has the same platform as the Sonata. It's the first Hyundai designed at the South Korean automaker's design center in California and is meant to meet American demands for style, safety, sophistication and performance.

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 third seat is split 50-50 and can be folded flat for more cargo room, like the 60-40 split second row seat, but is best suited to children.

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.

Fairly Well-Equipped
The entry GLS trim level has a 2.7-liter V6 and standard air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, 16-inch alloy wheels and power windows and door locks with remote keyless entry.

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.

More Horsepower
Horsepower of the refined 2.7-liter V6 has been raised from 170 to 185. The 3.3-liter V6 gets a major power increase to 242 from 200. Both engines also generate more torque.

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
The power steering is quick, but also rather heavy with an artificial feel. Most road imperfections are easily absorbed by the supple all-independent suspension, although large bumps can be felt. Handling is okay, but 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.

User-Friendly Interior
Entering the Santa Fe calls for a little more effort than getting into a car, but the front- and second-row seat areas are roomy and occupants sit high. The quiet, user-friendly interior has nice materials. Front seats are supportive, gauges can be quickly read and major controls are large. All doors have storage pockets and rear windows lower all the way.

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.

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BB06 - 9/15/2014 2:36:16 AM