Although we tested the 2013 model, the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe AWD Limited SUV received a few new standard and optional features such as perforated front seats and a rear parking assist system that is now appearing on most cars and trucks. Otherwise both models are essentially identical.
For starters, the Santa Fe’s longer length can accommodate a third row seat for seven. The stretch offers generous legroom in the second row. With the Limited model tested, captain’s chairs replace second row 60/40 split folding seats. And the Technology Package adds 19-inch wheels, GPS nav system, 8-inch touchscreen, rear parking sensors, a 56×29 inch sunroof, 115-volt outlet, heated front and second row seats, heated steering wheel, xenon headlights, LED taillights, and a 12 speaker Infinity audio system. This is added to an already long list of standard features.
Propelling this 4,000 pound-plus midsize SUV is a 3.3-liter, 290-hp (252 lb/ft of torque) V6 that sends power to the wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission that can tow up to 5,000 pounds. The combination gets EPA mileage estimates of 18 city, 24-highway mpg. Acceleration from a standing stop (0-60 tested at 7.7 seconds) is lively and there’s no want for power during highway passing maneuvers. It would be nice to see though how it would perform with a turbo, which would ultimately raise its modest price.
With eye catching exterior styling lines, the Santa Fe is one good-looking SUV. And this holds true for the interior.
Slipping into the cabin after a low 19-inch step-in, you’re treated to luxurious surroundings that equal and in some cases exceed more expensive SUVs and crossovers.
The vertical stack has logical placement of frequently used controls and blends nicely with the entire dash and décor where Hyundai designers added a touch of faux wood trim.
The front seats are soft, comfy and supportive. This holds true for the second row captains chairs. But the third row, which is a squeeze to access, is mainly for children.
Cargo capacity is spacious. With all three rows of seats upright there’s 13.5 cubic feet of space, 41 with the third row folded and 80 with all rows flipped for 78 inches of total storage depth. There’s also a 14×22.5-inch bin beneath the cargo floor for small item storage out of prying eyes.
Despite its larger size, Santa Fe handles like a smaller SUV and is surprisingly nimble and parks easily. The ride is smooth on 19-inch Kumho tires with only a smidgen of wind and road noise at highway speeds.
Although it’s very minor, my only complaint was with the GPS nav system that required pressing “I Agree” on the touchscreen disclaimer every time the engine was started. Otherwise, the Santa Fe was an enjoyable AWD SUV that also has a lock feature for when the going gets stuck in mud, snow or sand.
With 26 items on the standard list, the only option was the Technology Package ($2,900) that as listed plus side window shades and carpeted floor mats brought the price to $38,730 with delivery. A modest price for a fully endowed and capable SUV. And don’t forget, the competition can’t touch Hyundai’s generous 5/60K new vehicle, 10/100K powertrain, 7/unlimited anti-perforation and 5/unlimited roadside assistance warranties.
To test drive Santa Fe for yourself, stop by Lehigh Valley Hyundai on State Avenue in Emmaus (a Vinart dealership).