Strengths and weaknesses:
- ride quality
- squeaks and rattles
Review: 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe
Somewhat lost in Hyundai’s line-up amidst dramatic redesigns (Sonata, Tucson) and an upcoming North American launch (Equus), the 2010 Santa Fe does its best to garner attention from behind the automaker’s growing line-up.
The latest Santa Fe gets a refreshed exterior and two new engines for the 2010 model year, and though neither change is earth shattering, both help keep the Santa Fe competitive in an ever-evolving segment.
This week’s tester is the highest-priced Santa Fe available - an all-wheel drive Limited with navigation, powered by a new 3.5-litre V6. Compared to last year’s 3.3.-litre V6, there’s an increase of 34-horsepower and 22 lb.-ft. of torque, for a total of 276-horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. of torque. Those numbers beat or at the very least come close to many V6-equipped competitors.
The Santa Fe really can get moving in a hurry simply by pressing the throttle just a little more aggressively than normal, which results in effortless passing. The engine, which is extremely quiet whether you’re driving on the highway or in underground parking garages, is now mated to a six-speed automatic (last year was a five-speed). This makes shifting smoother and keeps RPM lower on the highway.
Normally that would be a big help in terms of fuel economy as well, and though on paper it looks to be greatly improved over last year, that’s not the case when it comes to real world driving. Our final fuel consumption numbers are much higher than those you’ll see on the Santa Fe’s window in a showroom.
One thing that’s difficult to argue is the value this vehicle offers. Even the most expensive Santa Fe comes in thousands under $40,000. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Hyundai without a ton of standard equipment. Every Santa Fe gets six airbags, Bluetooth, cruise control, steering wheel audio controls, power heated outside mirrors and a slew of active safety features.
The Limited trim adds some luxury with leather seating surfaces and steering wheel, fog lights, sunroof, backup camera, and all-wheel drive. It’s an extremely user-friendly cockpit that also happens to look fantastic, thanks to a smattering of fake wood that doesn’t cheapen the interior (which is something fake wood often does), but gives it an upscale feel.
The overall size of Hyundai’s midsize SUV may be slightly less than many competitors, but interior space doesn’t suffer, with many interior dimensions trumping those of other vehicles in the segment. If you don’t trust numbers though, trust your knees, head, feet and shoulders. There’s plenty of room for four passengers, without the need for compromise in the form of sliding seats fore or aft.
The driver sits high up for a commanding view of the road, with good sightlines. That being said, the Santa Fe rarely feels bulky like a large SUV; there’s decent steering feedback and we do feel connected to the road.
Cargo space is also very good. Even with the rear seats in the upright position, there’s lots of room to throw all kinds of stuff onto the carpeted cargo floor. Standalone options such as a cargo cover and plastic cargo tray are available if you tend to keep expensive and/or messy items in the back on a regular basis.
At the end of the day, the Santa Fe is a fantastic all-around vehicle. It may not be exceptional but it has very few weaknesses all the same. Whether you yearn for power, cargo space, comfort or value, the Santa Fe is sure to please.