2006 Santa Fe New Car Test Drive
The Hyundai Santa Fe blends the best attributes of traditional SUVs with a driving character like that of a mid-sized sedan and offers extensive convenience, safety, and trim features that come standard.
The Santa Fe drives well on and off paved roads with decent handling and good brakes. The 2.7-liter and 3.5-liter V6 engines both 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. The electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system available with the 3.5-liter engine provides good control for bad weather conditions. The 3.5-liter engine comes with a five-speed automatic transmission, an unexpected level of refinement for this class.
Starting at just $21,695, this compact sport utility has gained in features, style and performance with each model year. For 2006, the top trim level is the Limited (replacing the LX), which builds on the base GLS trim's many standard features by adding leather seating surfaces and other upgrades. A new all-black monochromatic color scheme also is available as an option on the Limited. The styling was revised for 2005.
Side-impact air bags are standard. GLS and LX versions come with a 218-watt Monsoon stereo. Santa Fe is backed by Hyundai's long and comprehensive warranty and offers exceptional value.
The Hyundai Santa Fe is available in two trim levels: GLS and Limited. Both levels come standard with front-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive is available for all models ($1500).
Santa Fe GLS ($21,695) is powered by a 2.7-liter V6 engine, coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual shift control. GLS comes standard with a long list of features, including air conditioning, tinted privacy glass, power windows and door locks, outside power-adjustable heated mirrors, cruise control, keyless entry system with alarm, roof rack side rails, new-for-2005 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, rear intermittent wiper with washer, contrasting bodyside cladding and bumpers, 218-watt Monsoon AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers, leather-wrapped steering wheel, carpeted floor mats, a cargo net and retractable cargo cover, and a first aid kit (comprising sunscreen, poison ivy balm, bandages, and a thermal blanket).
GLS is also available with a 3.5-liter V6 engine ($22,395) with five-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual override. The GLS 3.5L 4WD ($23,895) features a more sophisticated four-wheel-drive system with locking viscous differential.
The Limited ($24,395) comes standard with leather upholstery and the 3.5-liter V6 and five-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission, all features of the GLS, plus automatic air conditioning, heated front seats, eight-way power driver's seat, an electrochromic rearview mirror, Monsoon stereo with in-dash six-CD changer, automatic headlamps, HomeLink garage door opener, full instrumentation, and chrome door handles.
A power tilt/slide sunroof with sunshade ($850) is optional on all models. Another upgrade includes the sunroof with the new monochromatic black trim ($1,000).
Safety features on all Santa Fe models include dual front airbags and front-seat mounted side airbags. All five seating positions have three-point seatbelts; the front belts include pretensioners and have height-adjustable shoulder harnesses. Convenient anchor points allow child seats to be secured in the back seat. Active safety features designed to help drivers avoid accidents include four-wheel disc brakes, an anti-lock braking system with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and traction control.
All Hyundais come with one of the best warranty/service plans in the business: 10 years/100,000 miles on the powertrain, five years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper, five years/60,000 miles on corrosion, and 24-hour roadside assistance for five years with unlimited mileage.