2017 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD Ultimate: Hyundai’s value-laden SUV

3 May 2017 | 1,022 views | No Comment
By Don Hammonds Hyundai's Santa Fe is a striking example ----for its competitors---of what happens when you don't pay attention. For ages, many car brands discounted Hyundai and did not take it seriously aas a possible threat to their own market share. Now, here comes Santa Fe.  Its a joy to drive, has every conceivable feature you will ever need--and usually as standard equipment, has good looks, plenty of power, really strong handling and plenty of other attributes. [caption id="attachment_8965" align="alignnone" width="696"] 2017 Santa Fe[/caption] And...oh yes...about that pricing business. Hyundai knows full well that because of its strong reputation for quality and reliability, its value equation, and positive feedback from the automotive media, the company can now charge good prices for its products.  It no longer has to worry about pricing that undercuts everybody else because people WANT their product, not just buying it as an afterthought. Our Santa Fe LTD Ultimate tester was the company's top of the line model,, and  had a base price of $39,400. After options, the price was $43,160. Our test model had a fuel economy rating of 20 miles per gallon overall, 17 city and 23 highway.  We averaged slightly less than the city rating---about 16 or so miles per gallon.You do have lots of choices to make if you go for the Santa Fe. You will spend $2,250 more in fuel costs over five years compared with the average new vehicle for the Santa Fe, federal officials say. Driving 100 miles requires 5.0 gallons, and annual fuel costs are $1,850 based on 15,000 miles of driving annually for five miles and gasoline costing $2.50 a gallon. It comes in six- or seven-passenger midsize crossover SUV that comes in four trim levels: SE, Limited, SE Ultimate and Limited Ultimate. The entry-level SE comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, heated outside mirrors, roof rack side rails, dark-tinted rear privacy glass, a rear spoiler, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sliding 40/20/40-split second-row bench seat, a two-person third-row seat, an eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar) and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. You also get Bluetooth, a rearview camera, a 7-inch touchscreen display, Hyundai's Blue Link system, Android Auto smartphone integration and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and satellite/HD radio. [caption id="attachment_8964" align="alignnone" width="638"] 2017 Santa Fe[/caption] The Limited model adds outside mirrors with built-in turn signals, LED taillights, keyless ignition and entry, a hands-free power rear liftgate, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, leather upholstery, and it swaps out the second-row bench seat for captain's chairs (reducing seating capacity to six). The  SE Ultimate and Limited Ultimate models add 19-inch alloy wheels, a 360-degree multiview camera system, a panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, a six-way power front passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, driver memory settings, a navigation system and an Infinity surround-sound audio system with an 8-inch touchscreen display. Because there is so much standard equipment, you really only have two option packages from which to choose. If you buy the SE model for instance, a Premium package brings many of the SE Ultimate model's features and adds LED foglights, manual side window sunshades and a third-row USB outlet. For either the SE Ultimate or Limited Ultimate, an Ultimate Tech package tacks on adaptive xenon headlights, automatic high-beam control, adaptive cruise control with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and an electronic parking brake with auto-hold. So...what's new for 2017? Some revisions and fine tuning have been done to the rear end and front end of the car, and there's now LED daytime running lights.  You also now get a  7-inch touchscreen and you can order a USB charging pport for the third row.  There's some new safety equipment available on the Santa Fe that make it more competitive on the market. These include: a 360-degree parking camera system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking for forward collision mitigation. There's no doubt that the Santa Fe is an expensive looking SUV.  The squared off dual pipes, the shape of the lights around back and even the star shaped alloy wheels remind me of a Mercedes Benz from even slight distances away--and of course, that is not a bad thing.

       Inside, you will find that the Santa Fe, like all Hyundais, makes absolute certain you are aware of every single thing going on with the car.  If your steering wheel is aligned in such a way that will make pulling out from you r parking space tough, the car will warn you of that before you pull off, for instance--an unusual feature. And I think that Hyundai's onscreen parking system is among t e best in the business. The camera shot from a bird's eye view showed me precisely where the car was in relation to the curb, and there was none of the fuzziness of camera shots or overworked graphics like I have seen on many other products. I will say that the dashboard design, with all of its angles, odd shapes for gauges, and character lines going here, there and everywhere, were just too overdone for me. Everybody to their own tastes, but the dash design was just too much. I also thought that the switchgear in the Santa Fe, with dull surfaces, did not seem in keeping with the considerable expense of the car, and the inner door materials and design could use some attention as well. Another issue:  Although all the seats were comfortable, the third row seat seemed somewhat cramped, and be aware that if you choose to use the third row, your cargo space will be severely compromised. I'm not sure what a traveling large family would do with all their belongings. Handling was quite sharp and controlled on the Santa Fe. It always felt composed and under control, never sloppy, and the brakes were particularly strong. Acceleration was lusty, and this car can really haul it when asked to do so.   The Santa Fe is powered by a 290 horsepower, 3.3-liter V6 engine with 252 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and you can get front-wheel or all-wheel drive on all models.
The warranty package is a strong one, too.  Hyundai includes a 5 years/60,000 mile new car warranty, 10 year,/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and five year/unlimited  roadside assistance as the highlights. It's really a cliché that Hyundai has come a long way--that's  a tired old phrase that really has no place anymore.  But for those who have been living under a rock, or who refuse to face facts as the product and market actually are today, it's true. It's long since arrived, folks. And it's a product lineup that needs to be taken quite seriously by consumers--and competitors alike.    

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