There was a time when the reasons to pick a Hyundai Santa Fe as your crossover SUV were few. It had a low price and a lot of standard features, but that original first-generation model failed to perform to the level of its competition in most other areas.
Thankfully, the second-generation Hyundai Santa Fe presented a big step up in terms of styling and performance. Highlighted by its contemporary appearance and upscale and roomy interior design, this model made a respectable choice for a used midsize crossover.
Now the latest, third-generation Santa Fe raises the bar even further, with its truly impressive performance, attractive styling, high-quality cabin and generous standard features roster.
Current Hyundai Santa Fe
Redesigned for 2013, the current Santa Fe actually comprises two distinct models, the smaller Santa Fe Sport and the larger Santa Fe. Essentially replacing the Veracruz, the Santa Fe features a third row of seats, increasing maximum passenger count to seven.
The Santa Fe Sport comes in base and 2.0T trims. Standard feature highlights of the base Sport include 17-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth, Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system and a six-speaker audio system. The Sport 2.0T adds a turbocharged engine, 19-inch wheels, keyless ignition/entry, heated front seats and an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat.
The larger Santa Fe is offered in GLS and Limited trim levels. The GLS is equipped similarly to the base Sport, but gains a V6 engine, 18-inch wheels, sliding second-row seats and third-row seats. Springing for the Limited replaces the second-row bench with captain's chairs (reducing seating capacity to six), includes the Sport 2.0T's features and adds luxuries such as a power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated second-row seats and a power passenger seat. Major Santa Fe options include a navigation system, a panoramic sunroof and a premium sound system.
For power, the Santa Fe Sport comes with either a 2.4-liter four-cylinder (190 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque) or (in the 2.0T) a more powerful, turbocharged 2.0-liter four (264 hp and 269 lb-ft). The larger Santa Fe packs a 3.3-liter V6 (290 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque). A six-speed automatic transmission is standard across the line, and all Santa Fe models have front-wheel drive as standard, while all-wheel drive is optional.
In reviews, we've found both Santa Fe models provide a quiet, compliant ride. Handling is also impressive, though we've noticed the steering has a tendency to wander a bit on the highway. Performance of the base Sport is acceptable, while the Sport 2.0T provides plenty of strong and smooth power, as does the V6 that comes in the Santa Fe. Although the transmissions can sometimes be a bit slow to downshift, their smooth operation and the engines' broad spread of power essentially make this a minor gripe at best.
Whether one chooses the Santa Fe Sport or the Santa Fe, they'll be rewarded with a crossover that provides a decent amount of luxury, solid build quality, tons of useful features, surprising performance and attractive pricing.
Read the most recent 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Hyundai Santa Fe page.