There are certain models in the seven-passenger crossover segment that are acknowledged category leaders. Then there's the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe. But just because this six- or seven-seat car-based SUV doesn't have the name recognition of some of its higher-profile competitors is no reason for you to to dismiss it. In fact, the Hyundai Santa Fe has a number of strengths that make it worth serious consideration.
Among the Santa Fe's principal attractions is its notable bang for the buck. Desirable features like alloy wheels, bright LED daytime running lights, a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control and satellite radio are all standard, even on the entry-level SE model. The 3.3-liter V6 powertrain also manages to pick up roughly 1 mpg this year thanks to a little judicious tweaking.
Buyers looking for the latest high-tech and safety features won't be disappointed either. Blind spot warning with rear traffic alert and lane change assist are all standard on upper trim levels, while adaptive cruise control with automatic braking, lane departure warning and a 360-degree camera system are all available as options.
The only aspect to the Santa Fe that might hold you back is a smaller third-row seat and less cargo capacity relative to some competitors. Other top seven-passenger crossover alternatives include the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander. Even measured against these better-known crossovers, however, we think the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe still has much to recommend it.
The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe's list of standard safety features includes 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.
Rear parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts are standard on the Limited and both Ultimate models. A lane departure warning system and a frontal collision mitigation system (with pedestrian detection) are both available as options on the Ultimate trims.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the Santa Fe earned a top "Good" rating in the frontal-offset, side-impact, roof-strength and seat/head restraint (whiplash protection) tests. Its optional frontal collision mitigation system also earned a top "Superior" rating.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Santa Fe Limited stopped in 125 feet, a bit longer than average performance for this segment.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe is a six- or seven-passenger midsize crossover SUV that's offered in four trim levels: SE, Limited, SE Ultimate and Limited Ultimate. The smaller five-passenger Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is reviewed separately.
The entry-level SE comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, heated outside mirrors, roof rack side rails, dark-tinted rear privacy glass, a rear spoiler, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sliding 40/20/40-split second-row bench seat, a two-person third-row seat, an eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar) and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. You also get Bluetooth, a rearview camera, a 7-inch touchscreen display, Hyundai's Blue Link system, Android Auto smartphone integration and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and satellite/HD radio.
The Limited model adds outside mirrors with built-in turn signals, LED taillights, keyless ignition and entry, a hands-free power rear liftgate, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, leather upholstery, and it swaps out the second-row bench seat for captain's chairs (reducing seating capacity to six).
The offshoot SE Ultimate and Limited Ultimate models add 19-inch alloy wheels, a 360-degree multiview camera system, a panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, a six-way power front passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, driver memory settings, a navigation system and an Infinity surround-sound audio system with an 8-inch touchscreen display.
There are just two option packages available. For the SE, a Premium package bundles many of the SE Ultimate model's features and adds LED foglights, manual side window sunshades and a third-row USB outlet. For either the SE Ultimate or Limited Ultimate, an Ultimate Tech package tacks on adaptive xenon headlights, automatic high-beam control, adaptive cruise control with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and an electronic parking brake with auto-hold.
The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe comes with a 3.3-liter V6 engine that produces 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and all trim levels can be had with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The EPA's Santa Fe 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 SE Ultimate and Limited Ultimate models are rated 1-2 mpg lower than their respective base models.
In Edmunds testing, an AWD Santa Fe Limited Ultimate went from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, which is an average time for this class. Properly equipped, the Santa Fe can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
From behind the steering wheel, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe has a composed feel. Solid, predictable handling and precise steering combine to inspire confidence on the road. The suspension also delivers the comfortable ride quality you'd expect from a car-based crossover. The lack of intrusive wind and road noise adds to its relaxed driving demeanor.
The standard 3.3-liter V6 provides abundant acceleration without a fuss. This sense of refinement carries over to the six-speed automatic transmission, which provides smooth shifts under a wide variety of conditions.
Inside, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe is an impressive piece of work. Its combination of top-notch materials, an attractive design and the functional, intuitive layout of controls -- both physical buttons on the dash and virtual versions on the touchscreens -- make it one of the most comfortable and easy to live with models in the crossover segment.
Adding to this accommodating nature is the roomy feel of the first and second rows of seats. The front seats offer good comfort, with a wide range of adjustability. The second-row seats slide fore and aft and recline, giving them a fair amount of head- and legroom. The standard third row is fine for kids and teens and will even accommodate adults in a pinch, though other competitors are better in this regard.
There are 80 cubic feet of space available with both the second- and third-row seats folded down. With the second row in use, cargo space shrinks to 41 cubic feet; put the third-row seats up and you're down to a comparatively small 13.5 cubic feet. Getting that cargo in and out is a simple matter with the available "smart" hands-free rear liftgate that only requires you to stand behind the car for a few seconds with the key fob in your pocket or purse.
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.