New this year on the Hyundai Santa Fe are retuned steering and suspension (for improved control and precision handling), altered front bushings (not glamorous but essential for reduced wear and tear on the suspension), daytime running lights, hands-free power lift gate (optional), and driver-selectable power steering unit. Driver’s-side blind-spot side mirror and parking sensors, introduced in 2014, are now standard. The exterior has been updated to give it a more mature look.
Rated 2nd out of 13 Affordable Midsize SUVs by U.S. News and World Report, the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe three-row crossover SUV is highly praised. Along with a powerful V6 engine, the vehicle’s strong points are its style, comfort, generous warranty and user-friendly electronics interface. Downsides are its smaller cargo space compared to others in its class and the absence of any entertainment options for rear seat passengers. What follows is a cross-section of opinion among the major car review sites as well as owner comments.
Trim Levels, Options and Pricing
The Santa Fe has three rows of seats and can accommodate six or seven passengers. GLS and Limited trim levels are offered as Standard or with optional Premium and Ultimate upgrades.
GLS – Standard Features
With features like heated front seats, leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, satellite radio (two months free), audio system incorporating iPod/USB integration, six speakers and a CD player, eight-way power driver’s seat, rear-view camera, and windshield wiper de-icers, there is no shame whatsoever in “settling” for the standard model.
Also included as standard are full power accessories, Blue Link telematics, 4.3-inch touchscreen display, reclining second and third row seats, cruise control, trip computer, air conditioning (with vents and controls in second and third rows), roof rails, rear spoiler, fog lights, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
What do telematics do? Well, apart from news, weather, and blow-by-blow navigation, Blue Link offers SOS emergency assistance. There is also a handy app that tells parents when the kids are driving above a preset speed and whether they are out beyond their curfew time or preset distance.
GLS – Premium upgrade
The Premium package for the GLS is packed with upgrades including 19-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone auto climate control, blind spot detection system with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, auto-dimming rear view mirror, leather seats, four-way power front passenger seat, keyless entry and ignition, manual rear window shades, upgraded gauge cluster and power lift gate with hands-free automatic open.
The Ultimate GLS
The Ultimate options available for the GLS include an adjustable panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, driver memory settings, navigation system, eight-inch touchscreen and 115V outlet and 10-speaker Dimension sound system.
Limited-edition Santa Fe
The basic Limited trim level incorporates all of the features of the GLS Premium in addition to second-row captain’s chairs. This means that the maximum seating capacity is six passengers.
The Ultimate upgrade for the Limited adds LED taillights, xenon headlights, and a 12-speaker Infinity surround-sound.
Performance and Powertrain
The 3.3-litre V6 offers 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. Peppier than its classmates, the Santa Fe delivers 0-60 through its six-speed automatic transmission within 7.7 seconds. All this power enables the vehicle to tow approximately 5,000 pounds.
With all that get-up-and-go power, the Santa Fe might be expected to be greedy at the fuel pump. Not so. The 4WD model gets 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway for a combined fuel economy of 21 mpg. All-wheel drive models are only marginally higher, although mileage in the Ultimate models is 1 to 2 mpg lower.
While the three-row Hyundai Santa Fe has not been crash-tested by the National Highway Transport Association or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the short-wheelbase Santa Fe Sport has scored well on IIHS tests. Safety features on the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe include:
• Airbags – front, side, and curtain both sides + driver knee bag = 7 in total
• Anti-lock brakes
• Downhill assist
• Stability and traction control
• Blind-spot monitors
• Hill start
Interior Design and Best Features
This is another area in which the Hyundai Santa Fe outshines the competition. Elegant in its simplicity, the cockpit controls are well organized and carefully placed. High-quality materials add extra comfort and contribute to the spacious feel cabin. The panoramic sunroof is another big selling point.
The most common complaints about the Santa Fe’s interior come from third-row passengers. Conditions are somewhat cramped for adults and there is no entertainment provision for the poor crouching souls. Third row seating is best reserved for kids and teens with their own portable entertainment.
Total cargo capacity depends on how many seats are in use and varies from 13.5 cubic feet behind the third row if carrying six or seven passengers, up to a good 80 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded down.
Again, the Santa Fe scores highly. No effort has been spared in reducing cabin noise at high speeds. The engine is smooth and quiet, levels of wind and road noise are negligible. On winding mountain roads, the three row crossover feels sporty and light.
The Santa Fe is unique among family SUVs for its exceptional handling and acceleration.