The new Santa Fe is a compelling midsized SUV. It slots above Hyundai’s Tucson and competes with the likes of the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano, but it is priced close to some top-trim versions of compact SUVs such as the Honda CR-V, which can make it a bargain. We like its size, safety features, and handling, but buyers should skip the more expensive turbo engine because of its uneven acceleration.
It’s available with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or an uplevel 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The 2.4-liter is smooth and provides a predictable power delivery, while the optional turbo engine delivers plenty of power, but it comes in bursts, unexpectedly hesitating or launching the SUV forward. We measured 21 mpg overall with the turbo we tested, which doesn’t stand out in the class.
The Santa Fe’s composed, tied-down handling, with its responsive steering, gave our drivers confidence in rounding corners. The ride is overly firm, particularly with the 19-inch tires that come on turbo versions. The cabin is quiet, and only disturbed by some engine noise when revved.
It’s easy to enter and exit this SUV through the large doors, and the hip-height seats help passengers slide in. Once inside, the driver and passengers, particularly those in the back, find plenty of head- and legroom, and comfortable, supportive seats.
The Santa Fe has a modern, clean, and nicely finished cabin with well-padded surfaces, brushed metal accents, and rich materials, such as our SUVs two-tone leather upholstery. There’s plenty of storage space throughout the interior.
The controls are an example of very good ergonomics. They are clear to read and easy to master, including the quick-to respond infotainment system; however, it may be a bit of a reach for tall drivers to access the touch screen.
Cargo space is decent but we were disappointed that the Santa Fe didn’t come with a standard cargo cover; it is a dealer-installed accessory.
All Santa Fes are equipped with forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic warning, and lane keeping assist.
Hyundai has added new, clever features to the Santa Fe. The driver-attention warning system looks for signs of drowsy or distracted driving. If the driver's behavior suggests a lack of focus, the system will issue an audible tone or visual alert. The safe-exit assist feature warns occupants when a vehicle is approaching as they open a door. If it senses such a vehicle, it keeps the rear doors locked until the car has passed.
The SEL Plus and above trim levels come with Rear Occupant Alert, a system designed to prevent children or animals from being left behind when the driver leaves the vehicle. A reminder is flashed in the instrument cluster if the rear doors had been opened at the beginning of the trip.
The redesigned Hyundai Santa Fe is a sensible choice. It's capable and pleasant with lots of usable interior space, good visibility, and easy controls. Our advice would be to skip the turbo and stick with the base engine.