2004 Santa Fe New Car Test Drive
The Santa Fe is an inexpensive, compact sport-utility with a tall seating position and generous cargo capacity. Its curvaceous body looks friendly yet ready for the outdoors. Already an attractive choice in the compact sport-utility field, the Hyundai Santa Fe is made even more appealing for 2004 by a new and more powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine.
The Santa Fe drives well on and off paved roads with decent handling and good brakes. The V6 engines, both the new 3.5-liter and the 2.7-liter, deliver good acceleration, particularly in front-wheel-drive models. The four-wheel-drive system available with the 2.7-liter engine works well for light off-road duty. A new electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system available with the 3.5-liter engine promises better fuel economy.
Side-impact air bags are standard, and GLS and LX versions come with a 218-watt Monsoon stereo. Best of all, the Santa Fe is backed by Hyundai's long and comprehensive warranty, making it one of the most attractive small SUV's on the market. They say you get what you pay for, but with the Hyundai Santa Fe it seems like you get a little more.
Hyundai Santa Fe is available in three trim levels: base, GLS, and LX. All come standard with four-wheel-disc brakes, gas-charged shock absorbers, air conditioning, power-assisted steering, power door locks and windows, power heated outside mirrors, tilt steering wheel, an AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers, an illuminated glove box, carpeted passenger and cargo areas, three power outlets (two front, one rear), rear seat heating and air conditioning ducts, an eight-way manually adjustable driver's seat, and reclining rear seatbacks.
The base Santa Fe ($17,999) is available with front-wheel drive only, and is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual transmission is standard; a four-speed automatic transmission ($800) is optional. An option package ($495) adds cruise control, remote keyless entry, a rear-window wiper-washer, cargo convenience net, retractable cargo cover and a first aid kit (comprising sunscreen, poison ivy balm, bandages and a thermal blanket). Another package ($990) adds anti-lock brakes (ABS) to the package above.
The Santa Fe GLS ($20,999) comes with a 2.7-liter V6. The only transmission available is a four-speed automatic with Hyundai's Shiftronic manual override. Standard GLS luxuries include all of the option-package items mentioned above plus fog lamps, carpeted floor mats, deluxe cloth upholstery with contrasting inserts, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the 218-watt Monsoon stereo. Front-wheel drive is standard, full-time all-wheel drive is an option ($1500). ABS ($595) and a sliding glass sunroof ($595) are also available.
The new 3.5-liter V6 is available as an option on the GLS ($1000). Standard with the 3.5-liter V6 is a five-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission, ABS, and traction control; plus a uniquely tuned suspension that adds an anti-roll bar at the rear.
The Santa Fe LX ($23,999) comes standard with the 3.5-liter V6, five-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission, ABS, traction control, automatic air conditioning, heated front seats, a Homelink transmitter and an electrochromic rear-view mirror. The Monsoon stereo also gets an in-dash six-CD changer. Leather upholstery, chrome door handles, and brushed-stainless scuff plates bolster the LX model's up-market image. Four-wheel-drive is optional ($1500). Also optional: the power sliding glass sunroof ($595).