No Hyundai model charts the brand’s growth better than the Santa Fe. Introduced for 2001, the midsize SUV was a good-enough alternative to the Ford Escape and the like. But the company has grown in leaps and bounds every year since, and now in its third generation, the Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport are solid, competitive, and right in the thick of the ultra-competitive crossover segment. But the models have been on the market now for three years, so for 2017 they’ll be getting a competitive new makeover in hopes of gaining even more ground as the demand for crossovers and SUVs skyrockets and gas prices fall.
The seven-seater Santa Fe and smaller five-seat Santa Fe Sport will benefit from redesigned sheet metal, an updated interior, and a whole lot of tech upgrades that should help them stand out in their crowded segment. Hyundai says: “For the 2017 Santa Fe Sport model alone, nearly 350 individual parts have been updated, representing about 25 percent of total Santa Fe Sport parts content.” And if you’re in the market for a new SUV, the new models are on their way to Hyundai dealerships as you read this.
Outside, the SUVs are treated to a new front fascia that brings them closer in line with the design language of the current lineup. Out back, the Santa Fe benefits from new tail lights and dual exhaust ports. But at the end of the day, looks don’t make the sale in the midsize crossover segment — seriously, take the badges off of them and try to tell one from the other. What matters is what’s inside, and that’s where the biggest change comes for the Santa Fe.
Like any family-friendly crossover worth its salt, the Santa Fe Sport comes standard with a 5-inch color touchscreen to control the infotainment system, while a 7-inch screen comes standard in the bigger Santa Fe. The 7-inch and available 8-inch screens are available with Hyundai’s Blue Link infotainment system. While a backup camera is standard, Blue Link-equipped models will be Android Auto compatible. There’s also an available QuantumLogic surround-sound stereo system and a host of electronic safety sensors to keep you aware of your surroundings at all times.
Both five- and seven-passenger models will continue to offer the 2.4-liter 185-horsepower naturally-aspirated four, or the 265-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four. Both will be mated to Hyundai’s six-speed automatic transmission, and see fuel economy increases by about 1 mile per gallon. And to help owners wring every last drop of performance from their powertrains — whatever their definition of performance may be — a trio of driving modes (Normal, Eco, and Sport) are standard thanks to the new Drive Mode Select System.
Front-wheel drive Sport models start at $26,245 including fees (a $1,200 increase over ’16 models), while all-wheel drive models start at $27,995. Fully loaded Sport Ultimate models top out at $39,145. For the seven-passenger Santa Fe, entry starts at $31,695 for front-wheel drive and $33,445 for all-wheel drive models. The range-topping Ultimate AWD model will set you back a cool $42,045. That’s no small chunk of change, but then, the Santa Fe can run with the best of them nowadays.
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