2011 Santa Fe New Car Test Drive
The Hyundai Santa Fe, a midsize crossover SUV, is a practical size, roomy interior, worthwhile features, a combination of responsive performance and commendable fuel economy, an attractive price, and a terrific warranty. It's a good choice for dealing with urban and suburban traffic, taking the family on a vacation, or hauling random stuff from one spot to another.
The Santa Fe is a crossover utility vehicle, or CUV, meaning it is built with unibody construction, instead of having the body-on-frame structure of a traditional truck or larger SUV. Compared to a truck-based SUV, a crossover is generally lighter, smoother riding, more responsive, and delivers better fuel economy. But you knew that. Many of the SUVs this size are crossovers now. The Santa Fe is built in the U.S., in Montgomery, Alabama.
The Santa Fe is an attractive vehicle with a sleek shape. Inside, it's roomy. It seats five. It has four doors, a rear liftgate, and offers a lot of versatility for carrying people or cargo.
The Santa Fe offers a choice of 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 3.5-liter V6 engines, both of which were brand new for 2010. It is available with front-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive for those who might need more traction.
The 2.4-liter engine delivers 20/28 mpg City/Highway when equipped with the 6-speed automatic, according to the federal government. A 6-speed manual is standard. Rated at 175 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 169 pound-feet of torque at 3750 rpm, this second-generation Hyundai engine is high-tech: all aluminum, 16 valves, Continuously Variable Valve Timing on both camshafts and a Variable Intake System.
The 3.5-liter V6 boasts 276 horsepower at 6300 rpm and 248 pound-feet of torque at 5000 rpm, big numbers, yet it gets an EPA-estimated 20/26 mpg, good numbers, also. Those last figures edge out the 2.4-liter with the 6-speed manual (19/26 mpg). The V6 comes standard with the 6-speed automatic, and it is a very good transmission, adding to the efficiency of the powertrain. Like the new four-cylinder, the new V6 features overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, CVVT and VIS, up to date and sophisticated, in other words.
2011 Santa Fe Limited models offer a new 605-watt Infiniti Logic 7 audio system. For 2010, Santa Fe was upgraded with fresh styling, new engines, and the latest navigation technology. It was last redesigned for the 2007 model year.
The 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe is offered in three trim levels: GLS, SE, and Limited. All-wheel drive is offered as an option on all three, and all have seating for five.
Santa Fe GLS comes with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder, 6-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive ($21,695), a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive ($22,995), or the 6-speed automatic and all-wheel drive ($24,695). The GLS comes standard with air conditioning, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers and iPod and USB auxiliary jacks, XM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, trip computer, power and heated side mirrors, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, roof rack side rails, and 17-inch alloy wheels with P235/65R17 tires. The GLS is also offered with the 3.5-liter V6 with front-wheel drive ($24,895) or all-wheel drive ($26,595); either way a 6-speed automatic is standard.
Santa Fe SE ($25,995) comes standard with the 3.5-liter dohc V6, 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. In addition to the equipment found on the GLS, the SE adds cloth and leather seating surfaces, electrochromic auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, front fog lights, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, windshield wiper deicer, automatic headlights, power driver seat with power lumbar adjustment, a rear spoiler, roof rack cross rails, and 18-inch alloy wheels with P235/60R18 tires. The SE is also available with all-wheel drive ($27,895), which adds heated front seats to the standard equipment list.
The Premium Package ($3,200) for GLS and SE adds a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, navigation with a 6.5-inch touch screen, premium audio system with external amp and subwoofer, and a rearview camera. (All New Car Test Drive prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
Tucson Limited ($27,045) comes with the 2.4-liter engine and front-wheel drive along with leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control with outside temperature display, HomeLink universal garage-door opener, the sunroof, and an Infiniti Logic 7 10-speaker audio system with 6CD changer. The Limited is available with the V6 engine and front-wheel drive ($28,995), and the V6 engine with all-wheel drive ($30,695). The Premium Package ($2,050) adds navigation and a rear-view camera.
All Santa Fe models come with Hyundai's bumper-to-bumper warranty of five years/60,000 miles, plus a powertrain warranty of 10 years/100,000 miles.
Safety features that come standard on all models include dual front airbags, front seat side-impact airbags (for torso protection), side-curtain airbags (for head protection) and active front head restraints. Active safety features include antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, Electronic Stability Control, traction control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system.