By KBB.com Editors
The Hyundai Santa Fe is a unibody SUV made for tackling the urban jungle, not braving the actual jungle. Since its introduction in 2000, more than 440,000 have been sold. The Santa Fe is right at home running the kids to soccer practice (made easier with the new optional third-row seat), hauling groceries from the super market or heading to the mountains for the weekend. Combining attributes like a higher seating position, roomy interior, rugged good looks, a long list of standard equipment, a good warranty (10 year/100,000 mile powertrain) and a reasonable price, the Hyundai Santa Fe provides good value in the mid-size SUV category.You'll Like This Car If...
If getting the most for your money matters, the Santa Fe might be the SUV for you. The Korean manufacturers have improved quality over the years but still have to entice buyers with good value and an excellent warrantythe Santa Fe has both.You May Not Like This Car If...
Many people remember the cheap economy cars Hyundai sold in America starting in 1986. If you are looking to buy an SUV with the cache of the Japanese brands, the Hyundai Santa Fe may not be the car for you.What's Significant About This Car?
For 2007 the mid-size Santa Fe SUV adds an optional third-row seat. Gone is the swooshy design of the previous Santa Fe, replaced with a cleaner more masculine appearance. Hyundai also adds Electronic Stability Control and six airbags to the list of standard equipment.Driving It Driving Impressions
The Santa Fe rides smoothly and inspires confidence while cornering thanks to its responsive steering and well controlled body lean. Standard Electronic Stability Control keeps the vehicle under control during evasive maneuvers and is especially reassuring when driving in slippery conditions. Also standard is a tilt and telescoping steering wheel which makes it easy to find the perfect driving position. With the exception of some wind noise in the front and road noise from the rear, the cabin remains fairly quiet at freeway speeds. Acceleration with the 3.3-liter V6 is decent but is unfortunately plagued by torque steer. The Shiftronic automatic transmission responds quickly to manual gear selections making driving on curvy roads an almost sporty experience.Favorite Features
The optional back seats in the Santa Fe boost the passenger count to seven and are usable, not just a token add on. Children sitting in the third row will be comfortable and the occasional adult should have enough room to ride without complaint.
The styling of the previous Santa Fe seemed a bit dated for some tastes. The new model looks classier with smoother accent lines and less body cladding, resulting in a simpler more mainstream appearance. It's a sleek, handsome package with a confident stance.
The interior conveys a feeling of quality thanks to sturdy plastics and low gloss surfaces. The instrumentation is neatly laid out, easy to operate and at night glows with pleasant blue backlighting. The optional 50/50 split third-row seat is comfortable for children but also acceptable for adults over short distances. Unfortunately, entry to the third row is only available through one side of the vehicle as the driver's side second row seat does not flip forward to allow access. Santa Fe's ordered without the third row seat get a hidden storage compartment instead. The second row seats can be reclined; however the levers are placed on top of the seats, making adjustment while sitting nearly impossible.Exterior
Hyundai showed good taste in moving away from the overly busy appearance of the previous Santa Fe. Where the outgoing model's lines and creases seemed like design for design's sake, the new model takes a much simpler approach. The design elements are tasteful and purposeful. The body cladding is gone and the bumpers are now color keyed contributing to a cleaner, sleeker look. With its wider track, the Santa Fe now has a much stronger stance. In a nod to the previous generation Santa Fe, the asymmetrical hatch release on the tailgate is carried over to the 2007 model.Notable Standard Equipment
The Hyundai Santa Fe offers high value, as reflected by its standard equipment list which includes air conditioning, cruise control, a roof rack, dual exhaust, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, and a six speaker MP3-compatible CD player. To enhance safety all Santa Fe's include four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), electronic stability control (ESP), traction control, front and side airbags for the driver and front passenger, side-curtain airbags that protect all three rows, and active front head restraints.Notable Optional Equipment
Most popular options can be grouped together in packages that vary dependent on trim level. All-wheel drive is available for all Santa Fe models. Other options include third-row seating with third-row auxiliary climate control, heated front seats, steering wheel audio controls, a power outlet in the cargo area, heated front seats and power sunroof. A rear-seat entertainment system is available for SE and Limited models which include a DVD player with an eight-inch screen and wireless headsets. A 605-watt Infinity audio system is available for the Limited.Under the Hood
Hyundai offers two V6 engines for the Santa Fe. The 2.7 liter in the GLS model comes paired with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. SE and Limited models get the 3.3 liter and a five-speed automatic. The extra $1,500 to move from the automatic-equipped GLS to the SE with its 3.3-liter engine is pretty reasonable considering you get 57 extra horsepower, comparable gas mileage to the 2.7-liter engine and other goodies like 18-inch wheels and fog lights.
185 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
183 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/25 (FWD manual), 20/25 (AWD manual), 21/26 (2WD automatic), 19/25 (AWD automatic)
242 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
226 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/24 (FWD), 19/24 (AWD)
The 2007 Santa Fe GLS has a starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $21,595, which is $700 less than the 2006 model. The GLS is equipped with a five-speed manual transmission but an automatic can be had for about $1,200. The SE model starts at $24,295 and the Limited opens at $26,595. All-wheel drive bumps the price up by $2,000. Before you buy, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Prices to see what Santa Fe's are typically selling for in your area. While pricing is close to that of the Toyota Rav4 or Honda CR-V, the Santa Fe's resale value fares worse than its Japanese competitors. For example, after 60 months, a 2006 Santa Fe GLS is expected to retain 30 percent of its value versus the Rav4 and CR-V at 39 percent and 36 percent respectively.