Used 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Review
Edmunds expert review
The 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe doesn't receive as much attention as some other three-row crossover SUVs, but its mix of power, comfort and style is ideal. It's a smart choice for savvy consumers.
What's new for 2015
Earning elbow room at the crowded three-row crossover SUV table isn't easy, but Hyundai has done just that with its handsome, thoughtfully designed and powerful 2015 Santa Fe. In all the areas that will be important to shoppers, the Santa Fe earns high marks.
It starts with the Santa Fe's seven-passenger interior. Head- and legroom in the first two rows is generous, and the third row is big enough for kids or teens. Besides being spacious, the cabin is also thoughtfully designed and attractive. We like the easy-to-use controls, and Hyundai offers the latest in optional entertainment and safety features, should you want them.
Under the hood, an eager but quiet V6 engine provides above-average acceleration and towing capacity. All-wheel drive is available for those who require more traction. Topping it all off is a graceful and attractive exterior design that makes this Hyundai one of the more eye-catching models in its class.
Of course, that class of three-row crossovers does have some pretty accomplished models. The larger 2015 Chevrolet Traverse is a popular choice, thanks to its massive cargo capacity and ability to seat up to eight passengers. Similar to the Santa Fe, the 2015 Dodge Durango boasts a sharp-looking and classy interior. We're also fond of the wagonlike 2015 Ford Flex and the revised-for-2016 Kia Sorento. But ultimately, it's easy for us to recommend the Santa Fe on the strength of its overall excellence and value.
Trim levels & features
The 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe is a six- or seven-passenger midsize crossover SUV that is available in GLS and Limited trim levels. (The smaller Santa Fe Sport seats five and is reviewed separately.)
Standard features on the GLS include 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a rear spoiler, roof rails, windshield wiper de-icers, cruise control, a trip computer, full power accessories, express down/up front windows, air-conditioning (with second- and third-row rear vents and controls), a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping multifunction steering wheel, cloth upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar), heated front seats, a 40/20/40-split sliding and reclining second-row seat and a 50/50-split flat-folding third-row seat. Also standard are a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system and a six-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio (three months free), HD radio, USB/iPod integration and a 4.3-inch touchscreen display.
The optional Premium package for the GLS adds 19-inch wheels, keyless ignition and entry, a power liftgate (now with hands-free automatic open), a blind spot detection system with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, an upgraded gauge cluster, leather upholstery, a four-way power front passenger seat and manual rear window shades.
The Santa Fe Limited includes the contents of the Premium package and further adds second-row captain's chairs (reducing total seating to six).
Both trims can be optioned with the Ultimate package, which nets a panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, driver memory settings, a navigation system, 8-inch touchscreen and a 115-volt outlet. Limited models with this package further add xenon headlights, LED taillights and a premium sound system (a 10-speaker Dimension system for the GLS or a 12-speaker Infinity surround-sound system for the Limited).
Performance & mpg
Powering the Santa Fe is a 3.3-liter V6 engine that produces 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a standard six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is optional.
EPA fuel economy estimates are 21 mpg combined (18 city/25 highway) on front-wheel-drive models and 20 mpg combined (18 city/24 highway) with AWD. The heavier Ultimate trim levels are rated 1-2 mpg lower than their respective base models.
In Edmunds testing, an AWD Santa Fe Limited went from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, which is quick compared with others in its class. Properly equipped, the Santa Fe can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Standard safety features for all 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe models include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and front seat active head restraints. Also standard are a rearview camera and Blue Link, Hyundai's emergency telematics system, which provides services such as remote access, emergency assistance, theft recovery and geo-fencing.
Options include rear parking sensors, blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist.
In crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Santa Fe earned a top "Good" rating in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. Its seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Santa Fe Limited stopped in 125 feet, an average performance for this segment.
On either side of the driving spectrum, the Hyundai Santa Fe has the potential to impress. With nearly 300 hp on tap, the Santa Fe's V6 helps it to accelerate with authority. The smooth and quiet engine makes for relaxed highway travel, as do low levels of wind and road noise. On winding mountain passes, the Santa Fe feels fairly light and sporty as big three-row crossover SUVs go.
We're eager to take the 2015 Santa Fe out for a spin to evaluate the changes Hyundai has wrought to the suspension and steering systems. We hope the revised suspension has eliminated the somewhat bumpy and wallowy ride quality we experienced in the past, especially when the Santa Fe was weighed down with passengers. This was one of the very few demerits against the 2014 Santa Fe that contributed to an Edmunds.com "B" rating rather than an "A."
Among the numerous competing crossover SUVs in its class, the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe has one of the nicer cabins of the bunch. This is due in no small part to its high-quality materials, thoughtful placement of controls and overall spaciousness. As we've come to expect from Hyundai, the Santa Fe's cockpit could serve as a benchmark for elegant simplicity in the segment. Switchgear is well-organized and legible, while the touchscreen menus and functions are as intuitive as it gets.
The front seats are comfortable for longer drives, with enough adjustments to accommodate drivers of all sizes. Second-row passengers will also find the quarters to their liking, with a wide range of recline angle and plenty of head- and legroom, even with the optional panoramic sunroof. The third-row seat is easy to get to and acceptably sized for kids or teens. Adults will be OK in a pinch as well, though some other three-row crossovers offer better comfort and third-row headroom.
One item conspicuously absent from the options list is a rear seat entertainment system, a feature that seems to be prevalent elsewhere in this segment, as well as in minivans.
In terms of cargo and luggage space, the Santa Fe can hold up to 41 cubic feet of cargo behind the second row of seats. With the second row folded, that figure grows to 80 cubic feet, but if all the seats are in use, it shrinks to just 13.5 cubic feet behind the third row. This is similar to what the Dodge Durango offers, but bigger vehicles like the Chevrolet Traverse and Mazda CX-9 easily dwarf these figures.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.