Hyundai's 2017 Santa Fe competes in the increasingly tough market for mainstream six- or seven-passenger crossover SUVs. These aren't the subcompact "cute utes" that attract couples who just had their first kid. And it's not a behemoth SUV based on a full-size truck that retirees purchase to tow their Airstreams. These are hard-core family machines for experienced parents of multiple children who have outgrown dinky vehicles and can't stand another day of minivan stigma. In historical context, these three-row crossovers are the true heirs to the station wagon.
The rearmost seat in the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe isn't the largest in the crossover category, but the first and second rows are at least as comfortable as all of its direct competition. And it's a significantly larger vehicle than its stablemates, the subcompact Tucson and the confusingly named in-betweener, the Santa Fe Sport.
Hyundai offers the Santa Fe in four distinct trim levels. At the base sits the SE that is nicely equipped even if it is the entry-level model. Then there's the Limited which covers what most buyers will want. Next is the SE Ultimate that's bordering on the indulgent and luxurious. Finally there is the Limited Ultimate that is about as luxurious as anything Hyundai sells. Hyundai also wins the prize for naming efficiency: four trim level names using only two words and a couple of letters.
All Santa Fe trim levels are powered by a 3.3-liter, direct-injection V6 rated at 290 horsepower. And they all use the same six-speed automatic transmission that feeds the front wheels. Opt for the optional all-wheel-drive system and, well, all the wheels are driven. Actually, the rear wheels are only driven when needed, a feature that improves efficiency. All Santa Fes are rated to tow 5,000 pounds. And while the two lower trim levels ride on 18-inch wheels, the top two get 19s.
Hyundai includes several advanced safety features with the Hyundai. There's blind-spot warning, rear traffic alert and lane change assist systems on the SE Ultimate and Limited Ultimate. And if that's not enough, lane departure and 360-degree camera systems are on the options list.
Front-drive Santa Fes are rated at 21 mpg combined (18 city/25 highway), while all-wheel-drive Santa Fe models get 20 mpg combined (18 city/24 highway). Some competitors fitted with turbocharged four-cylinder engines will do better than the Santa Fe, but not by much.
In a booming category like larger crossover SUVs, it helps to have a guiding hand helping you make your decisions. Edmunds is here to be that guide. And we'll help you get a solid deal from a great dealer, too.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.