2010 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD
This week, we're driving the revamped for 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe, a 4-door, 5-passenger SUV that comes in a total of eight flavors. With an entry model GLS that starts at just $21,695, Santa Fe then escalates to the top line Limited AWD, which happens to be out tester this week. In between, there's a bevy of price entry points designed to suit as many consumer pocketbooks as possible.
Complete with two new engines and a revamped exterior, Santa Fe competes very well in the SUV category, especially when it comes to overall value. Exterior upgrades include a redesigned grille, fascias, fog lamps, body side moldings, new alloy-wheels and revamped tail lamps. Inside, it's very roomy and comfortable, although a third row is no longer available. If you want a third row, test drive the Hyundai Veracruz.
Santa Fe's entry level GLS is a front drive model powered by the same new engine that powers the new generation Tucson, namely a 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder that develops 175-horsepower and delivers EPA numbers of 19 city and 26 highway. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, while a 6-speed automatic is optional.
When you arrive at the Limited model, way more standard features are included and power comes from a new 3.5-liter V6 that puts out 276-horsepower and 248 lb. ft. of torque. Surprisingly, this engine is more powerful by 34 horses over last year's Santa Fe V6, yet delivers better fuel efficiency. The V6 EPA numbers are better or identical to the manual 4-cylinder and rates at 20 city and 26 highway thanks to standard electronic 6-speed automatic transmission with overdrive.
The Limited's standard feature list is quite long and results in a nearly loaded Santa Fe. Included are a power tilt and slide sunroof to every electronic convenience one can think of. This reality is one of Hyundai's best selling points, in that everything but the Navigation package, which includes a rear camera and costs an additional $2,250, is included. Things like dual climate control, premium stereo CD, XM Satellite, MP3/iPod/USB, power liftgate, Bluetooth, roof racks, steering wheel audio and cruise controls, trailer package and much more await those who test drive a Santa Fe.
Safety items are many, featuring electronic stability control, 4-wheel disc ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, advanced front airbags, front side impact air bags, and side curtain airbags with rollover sensors. This combination results in 5-Star government crash ratings.
Built in Montgomery, Ala., Santa Fe's engine is assembled in the states, and 40-percent of its parts come from either Canada or United States. Could this be one of the reasons Hyundais has improved so much over the years? (I wouldn't disagree). Of course, the major sources of foreign parts are from Hyundai's home base, namely Korea, including the fine shifting 6-speed automatic transmission. Worthy of note is the 100,000-mile, 10-year drivetrain warranty.
So, how does Santa Fe perform on the road? Very well, thanks to agile handling and a fully independent design in strut front and multi-link rear design. The standard 18-inch tires and alloy wheels make for better traction abilities versus smaller tires and the lightweight alloy wheels are very nice. The AWD system is automatic and provides a 50-50 traction lock for slippery surfaces when needed.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 106.3 inches, 4,120 curb weight, 8.1 inch ground clearance, 18 gallon fuel tank, up to 78.2 cu. ft. of cargo space with rear seat down and a 3,500 lb. tow capacity.
There is always a sale going on at your Hyundai dealer, and Santa Fe ranks at least a test drive if shopping in this category. You'll be pleased.
Likes: Looks, handling, power, safety, warranty.
Dislikes: Higher priced Santa Fe is close to Veracruz price.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist)