SENIOR ROAD TEST EDITOR NATALIE NEFF: I’m tellin’ ya, the Koreans are on a roll. This is as legitimate a contender in the midsize SUV segment as you’ll find, crammed with every feature an overstressed mom could want/need in her taxi/getaway vehicle.
Don’t get me wrong; every moment I can steal away in, say, our long-term Jaguar F-Type R coupe or similar, I’m a happy girl, but that’s just not practical when nine times out of 10 I’m accompanied by a Chicco NextFit convertible car seat and the little boy whose job is to fill all of its crevices with Cheerios. Horsepower and handling largely have been trumped by door aperture sizes, liftover heights and LATCH locations -- but most especially by those features that keep life a little saner: navigation (when the kid is shrieking, I need to know how to get there NOW!), satellite radio (of late, XM channel 76, Symphony, has been a soothing savior), rearview cameras and side-alert warnings (all the easier to see behind some of these bigger-butt vehicles) and the alphabet soup of active and passive safety features that help keep the little one safe.
That’s wherein the Santa Fe seriously shines. I mean, the options list includes, in part: HID headlights, LED taillights, panoramic sunroof, rear parking assistance system, heated steering wheel, navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen, Infinity Logic7 surround sound audio system 550-watts. That’s on top of a fat stack of standard features, from blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change assist, rearview camera and seven airbags.
The 290-horse 3.3-liter V6 isn’t shabby, either. I never found the Santa Fe wanting for go, and the transmission shifts crisply and quickly. I could always use a bit more power, but hey, so long as the Koreans keep offering this level of equipment for this kind of coin (41 large ain’t bad for a stuffed-to-the-gills seven-passenger ride), I’m a happy momma.
The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited is equipped with a 3.3-liter V6 coupled with a six-speed automatic gearbox.
ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: Hyundai deserves a medal for the suspension tuning improvements that seem to be popping up throughout its lineup. First there was the Elantra GT that caught my attention with its improvements a few weeks back, and then my time behind the wheel of a 2015 Genesis sedan was a pleasant surprise. My quick one-night excursion in this 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited was rather nice, too.
Hyundai vehicles were always lacking in the suspension refinement department with crashy ride qualities and steering that was way too lightly weighted with little feedback. However, this Santa Fe handles bumps well. Not as well as the latest Toyota Highlander or the aging Honda Pilot, but I will say it’s on par with the Nissan Pathfinder. Hyundai has tried to address its steering issues by offering three selectable modes: comfort, normal and sport. Normal was still too light for my tastes, which had me rolling around in sport during my time behind the wheel that provided a nice and weighty feel. Brakes are stout.
There is a little tire noise to speak of from the 19-inch Kumho City Venture tires on our test car. It’s not really bad, but it’s noticeable.
The 3.3-liter V6 is strong for the class. With 290 hp, it punches in above all the 3.5-liter V6s in the other three crossovers I mentioned. The Honda packs 250 hp, the Nissan has 260 and the Toyota is rated at 270. The Santa Fe still is no dragster, but it’s off the line respectably and blending in with expressway traffic is easily done.
I remain a fan of Hyundai’s interior layouts. They still depend on a lot of hard buttons, which I’m sure drives the designers crazy, but there’s nothing like having a dedicated button to control a specific function all the time. It’s nice not to have to fool around with a touchscreen and sift through a bunch of menus to control different things. Finding a comfortable seating position behind the wheel is easy, and there looks to be a generous amount of legroom in the second-row, too. I didn’t take time to peek into the third row, though. Major touchpoints are nice, with soft leather covering the steering wheel and rubbery materials making up most surfaces throughout.
The only change I would make to the interior is to give the front bucket seats a little more side bolsters for more support. The ones in there are a little too flat for my tastes.
As Natalie mentioned above, this Limited model with the optional technology package is loaded with a bunch of trick features. The premium audio system sounds pretty good and front seats that are both heated and cooled. There are xenon headlights which I always appreciate. If you like mongo sunroofs, there’s one here in this Santa Fe.
All that for $41K doesn’t seem outrageous, considering the lengthy equipment and general refinement throughout the Santa Fe. And you can’t forget about that generous warranty that Hyundai provides. This is definitely a three-row crossover that should be on everyone’s shopping list.
What is it?The 2013 Santa Fe Sport is one half of the new, third-generation Hyundai Santa Fe lineup, which will add a long-wheelbase model in about four months.The five-passenger Sport sits on the ...
Options: Limited technology package including 19-inch alloy wheels and P235/55R19 tires, HID xenon headlights, LED taillights, panoramic sunroof, rear parking assistance system, heated steering wheel, driver’s integrated memory seat, ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, navigation system with eight-inch touchscreen, Infinity Logic7 surround sound audio system 550-watts, premium door sill plates, 115-volt power outlet ($4,850); carpeted floor mats ($135)
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