The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe comes to play against a very solid field that includes the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder. An extended version of the popular Santa Fe Sport, the 7-passenger Santa Fe offers more interior room, a long list of standard comfort and safety features and the most powerful V6 engine in the segment. The Santa Fe can be ordered with front- or all-wheel drive (FWD, AWD) and, with the exception of the missing DVD entertainment system, can generally match its competitors item for item while still undercutting them by a few hundred dollars. Of course, Hyundai doesn't skimp to keep the Santa Fe's price low, as witnessed by the handsome interior and elegant styling.
You'll Like This Car If...
Needing room for seven but the budget says, "better shop used?" The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe may just surprise you with its bang-for-the-buck content.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Big jobs sometimes require a V8 engine. If you're towing more than 5,000 pounds or require off-road readiness, the Jeep Grand Cherokee or a full-size SUV such as the Chevrolet Tahoe makes a better choice.
The Hyundai Santa Fe for 2014 now offers Blind Spot Detection on all trims, while the Technology package adds rear parking assist. Other new options include HID headlights and LED taillights.
Driving the Santa Fe
No one expects a big crossover SUV to excel in the areas of handling and acceleration, but the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe actually might surprise a few diehards....
... On the open road, the Santa Fe glides along with little effort. The 3-mode steering setup tracks straight and true and the compliant ride walks a fine line between jarringly harsh and marshmallow mush. Inside, wind and road noise are minimal, although we think the Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer are a tad better insulated. Power for the Santa Fe comes from a 3.3-liter V6 offering 290 horsepower, but only 252 lb-ft of real hardworking torque. But, thanks to a significantly lighter body than most of its competition, the 2014 Santa Fe accomplishes swift takeoffs and passing maneuvers with ease. When the all-wheel-drive system is added, however, climbing hills and making mid-range passes (40-60 mph) feel more like work.
HYUNDAI BLUE LINK Beyond the expected concierge services, SOS emergency assistance, news, weather and turn-by-turn navigation help, Blue Link's 3-level telematics system includes a parent-centric app that sends you a text if your Santa Fe is driven over a preset speed, past a curfew time or beyond a preset "geofence" perimeter.
PANORAMIC SUNROOF A 1-touch power tilt/slide sunroof is cool, but one with a sky view that spans all three rows is triple cool.
2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Details
There's plenty of room in the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe, and the driver's view to the front is panoramic (the rearward view is less broad, but you're never reduced to driving purely with the mirrors). The base Santa Fe's stain-resistant cloth fabric feels good, plus the audio and climate-control knobs and buttons are glove-friendly big. All the materials are impressive right down to the rubber that lines the inside of the door pulls. The first two rows are completely livable for adults, while the third row is a decent kid's row. The Santa Fe does give up some cargo area compared to the competition, however.
Looking for all the world like what it is – an extended-wheelbase Santa Fe Sport without the sporty rear-side-window kick-up – the new Santa Fe has more to say about handsome, contemporary styling than it does about swooping lines that characterize the shapes of Hyundai passenger cars. Nice touch 1: Even in base Santa Fe GLS form, the outside mirrors and bumpers are body color. Integrated fog lights, roof rails and 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels are the exterior differences between the GLS and upscale Limited versions. Nice touch 2: The Santa Fe GLS gets smaller 18-inch wheels, but they, too, are of aluminum alloy.
Santa Fe GLS drivers with a long journey ahead will appreciate the multi-adjustable front bucket seats with power-adjustable lumbar support. Passengers farther back will give thanks to the 3rd-row controls for the air conditioning and heating. Stepping up to the Santa Fe Limited includes luxuries like leather seating – power-adjustable and heated for the driver and front passenger – push-button starting and heated captain's chairs for the second row. The Limited also upgrades the audio system with a 4.3-inch color display and adds a rearview camera. Sweet as ever, Hyundai's confidence-inspiring 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranties cover the new Santa Fe.
Beyond a laundry list of individual options like a heated steering wheel, navigation system, premium audio and all-wheel drive, Hyundai is pushing option packages. For the Santa Fe GLS, the Leather and Navigation Package includes said leather and navigation plus a host of comfort and convenience upgrades. The Limited's Technology Package scores you navigation and a 12-speaker Infinity Logic 7 audio system, plus that wow-inspiring Panoramic Sunroof, a heated steering wheel, rear backup sensors and manual rear-side-window sunshades. Sadly for mom and dad, no rear-seat-entertainment/DVD pacifier is available on the 2014 Santa Fe (but an iPad or two would be cheaper than most such systems, anyway).
Under the Hood
Hyundai makes it simple to shop for a 2014 Santa Fe: one engine, one transmission. In front-drive form, the SUV's 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 is very well matched to the 6-speed automatic transmission, with good throttle response, smooth pickup and clean, easy shifts. The AWD Santa Fe, though, could do with some more low-end grunt to get it moving. All that said, the 2014 Santa Fe is comfortable towing up to 5,000 pounds of trailer, boat or anything else you'd like to haul.
A 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS comes out of the gate with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of around $30,000 – a number the new Nissan Pathfinder SUV can compete with, but the popular Honda Pilot misses by more than $1,000. The Santa Fe Limited starts under $35,000. If you find yourself loading up an all-wheel-drive Santa Fe Limited with options, you'll still find yourself under $40,000, an area that the Hyundai pretty much has to itself in this class. Check out KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price for what shoppers are actually paying for the Santa Fe in your area. It's still a little early to predict the 2014 Santa Fe's resale outlook, but Hyundai SUVs consistently rank well versus their competition.
"I now have 5K miles on my 2015 Santa Fe GLS, AWD, including one long road trip. What I love is the handling of this vehicle, especially the steering options. I also love the power that the 6cyl engine provides. HOWEVER, this vehicle has more rattles than any new car I have ever owned, which is about 15 or 20. The headrests on the third row seats are especially noisy and troubling. Build quality, and quality control, are poor for this Hyundai. Considering I paid 32K for this car, I think I should be able to expect much more."