What is it: The Hyundai Santa Fe is Hyundai’s three-row crossover. Growing to its current mid-size silhouette in 2007, the Santa Fe started life as a compact crossover when it debuted in 2000. With a next-generation right around the corner, the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate is a high watermark of its generation.
Key Competitors: Ford Edge, Honda Pilot, Kia Sorento
Base Price: $40,530 As Tested Price: $44,530
Highlights: There isn’t a whole lot new with the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe, as most of it is carried over from the last model year. There are some minor changes to packages and an addition of a trim level. The bump to the highest trim gets you a bigger infotainment screen (from the standard 7-inch touchscreen to 8-inches), special badging, a premium sound system and bigger wheels.
Our Opinion: For 2018, Hyundai basically carried over its ’17 Santa Fe three-row crossover, which is an interesting move considering the knock-down drag-out fight that is the three-row crossover world these days. With the New York auto show debut of the new 2019 model, it makes sense that Hyundai didn’t try to shake up its outgoing model. Well, that, and the fact that it didn’t need a whole heck of a lot changed up.
Powering this Santa Fe is a potent 3.3-liter V6 that’s mated to a six-speed automatic. The V6 is good for 290 hp, which is more than enough to get it out of its own way in a hurry. The six-speed transmission feels on the antiquated side, with the competition stuffing eight or nine gears into their transaxles, but it handles shifting duty well. There aren’t any strange undulations or stutters while shifting, something that can't be said about some of those 8/10-speed transmissions. Power goes into the all-wheel-drive system, and I was fortunate enough to not have a chance to test it against any of Michigan's unpredictable weather.
The ultra-long name might seem kind of silly, but it does mean that this Santa Fe is as well-equipped as it can get. The interior is pleasantly plush, with soft materials at the places your hands will spend their time. The wide expanse of the interior should be good enough to haul a family around with a full load of groceries and more. Flipping up the third-row chomps into the rear storage space, but the cargo area still ample enough for a couple of suit cases. The third row isn’t as comfortable as the other two rows, but that’s nearly par in the three-row world.
The Hyundai infotainment system is among the best around — with its Kia cousin running neck and neck. The media system looks sleek, performs wonderfully and, at least this premium sound system, is more than loud enough to get your daily dose of “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” The Apple CarPlay connectivity obviously depends on your phone, but on modern devices it boots up quickly and functions without a hitch.
This Santa Fe’s replacement looks better, and will probably push Hyundai higher in the crossover war, but this generation is a totally capable family truckster.
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $40,530
As Tested Price: $44,530
Powertrain: 3.3-liter V6, AWD six-speed automatic
Output: 290 hp @ 6,400 rpm 252 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,178 lb
Fuel Economy: 17/22/19 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Options: Ultimate Tech Package — smart cruise control with start/stop, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, electronic parking brake with auto vehicle hold, high intensity headlights, dynamic bending light, high beam assis
Pros: Surprisingly well appointed on the inside
Cons: At the end of its current life cycle