By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.3
While there are numerous 3-row family crossover SUVs from which to choose, picking the Hyundai Santa Fe for 2016 won’t leave you with buyer’s remorse. The Santa Fe’s sleek exterior has the edge on older SUVs such as the GMC Acadia, while steering clear of more polarizing designs like the new Nissan Pathfinder. With seating for seven, a large cargo bay and one of the most powerful V6 engines in its class, the 2016 Santa Fe from Hyundai has no problem handling large loads. It can even match the new Honda Pilot with a tow rating of 5,000 pounds. Toss in Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile warranty and rapidly improving reliability and resale figures, and the 2016 Santa Fe crossover SUV begins to seem like a no-brainer.
If you think a limited budget means your growing family will have to settle for a used 7-passenger SUV, the roomy and reasonably priced 2016 Santa Fe from Hyundai will bring a smile to your face.
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There are a few minor changes to the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe 7-passanger crossover SUV. The GLS trim is renamed SE and the saddle interior option has been dropped. Hyundai’s Smart Liftgate with auto open is made standard on Limited and optional on the SE.
While no one really expects a 7-passenger SUV to deliver thrilling acceleration and handling, the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe comes darn close. A 3-mode steering system allows the driver to...
... adjust steering feel from firm to lightweight, while the Santa Fe’s suspension permits confident cornering without punishing occupants with a rough ride. The Santa Fe’s interior is well isolated from most exterior noise, although we think the Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer are a bit quieter. When it comes to power, however, the Santa Fe sport wants for nothing, with a 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 teamed to an efficient 6-speed automatic. This combo delivers impressive acceleration and mid-range passing power (40-60 mph), although things slow up just a hair when equipped with the heavier all-wheel-drive (AWD) option.
HYUNDAI BLUE LINK TELEMATICS
Blue Link not only provides essential services such as news, weather, turn-by-turn navigation and SOS emergency assistance, it can also rat out your misbehaving teenager by sending a text message when the vehicle passes your preset speed limit, is out past curfew or travels beyond a set perimeter.
With a massive glass panel spanning all three rows, the Santa Fe’s panoramic sunroof allows sunlight to fill the cabin. With the push of a button, the panel can tilt up to help improve circulation, or open completely providing a rush of fresh air.
There's plenty of room in the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe, and the driver's front view is panoramic (the rearward view is less broad, but you're never reduced to driving purely with the mirrors). The base model’s stain-resistant cloth fabric feels good, plus the audio and climate-control knobs and buttons are glove-friendly big. All materials are impressive 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 SE 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 SE and upscale Limited versions. Nice touch 2: The Santa Fe SE gets smaller 18-inch wheels, but at least they are aluminum-alloy.
Santa Fe SE 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 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 AWD, Hyundai is pushing option packages. For the Santa Fe SE, the Ultimate Package includes said leather and navigation plus a host of comfort and convenience upgrades. The Limited's Ultimate Package scores you navigation and a 12-speaker Infinity Logic 7 audio system, plus the Panoramic Sunroof, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, HID headlights, rear backup sensors and manual rear-side-window sunshades. Sadly, no rear-seat-entertainment pacifier is available on the 2016 Santa Fe, but an iPad or two is likely a cheaper solution, anyway.
Hyundai makes it simple to shop for a 7-passenger 2016 Santa Fe by offering only one engine and one transmission. In front-wheel-drive form (FWD), 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, Hyundai’s 2016 Santa Fe is comfortable towing up to 5,000 pounds of trailer, boat or anything else you'd like to haul.
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
252 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg (FWD), 18/24 mpg (AWD)
A 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe SE comes out of the gate with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of around $31,250 – a number that is slightly higher than the 2016 Nissan Pathfinder SUV, but slightly less than a similarly equipped Honda Pilot EX. The Santa Fe Limited starts just under $35,500. If you load up an AWD Santa Fe Limited with every option, you'll still find yourself spending less than $45,000. 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 2016 Santa Fe's resale outlook, but Hyundai SUVs consistently rank well versus their competition.