Overview

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Overview (Final Score: A)

The 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe is the most overlooked crossover in the 3-row segment, yet it offers one of the more value-oriented and compelling packages available. An easy "A" for us to rate, the Santa Fe has a solid V6 powerplant, good fuel economy, excellent interior ergonomics and a lot of understated class.

For the 2016 model year, the Santa Fe is virtually identical to its 2015 update with just some trim level name changes and a slight update to its technology package. Not much needed changing with this crossover, which has many things a family requiring seating for up to seven might want.

Basically, if the Santa Fe's warranty doesn't sell you, its wonderful interior experience will.

What We Love About the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe:


  • Well-done interior with great materials quality and good ergonomics

  • Roomy seating in both the first and second rows

  • Great highway drive and good in-town maneuverability


 

What We Don't Love About the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe:


  • Cargo space is good, but not as accessible as with some rivals

  • Some technology, particularly in driver-assistance, are not available


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Exterior View (9/10 relative to market)

The 2016 Santa Fe has an understated, classy look that neither begs attention nor ignores it. The wide, thin-slotted grille lets you know that it's a crossover-SUV, but the clean lines and forward-leaning cant are otherwise all sports sedan. The lightly dimpled hood and rake-back headlamps keep the forward momentum going, as do the body lines running straight back to the tail lamps.

Most of the forward lean of the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe is due to the way the bodywork and beltline are configured to slant upwards towards the rear. The pinching of the read portion of the roofline makes this look complete, creating a decidedly forward-moving overall feel to the Hyundai Santa Fe's design. It's both eye-catching and simplistic, requiring no analysis on the part of the viewer to understand what the Santa Fe's digs are all about.

In any parking lot, this Hyundai will look good without being the sore thumb.

Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (10/10)

With the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe, the exterior has a great look, but the interior is what really sets it apart. Although often ignored in the busy 3-row segment of crossovers, the Santa Fe has one of the best interiors offered. High-quality materials and an excellent layout set the groundwork for a very well done interior experience. The interior of the Santa Fe is more upscale than many might expect.

The front seats are very comfortable and will accommodate a driver or front passenger who's short or tall without much fuss. For the driver, controls are smartly placed and instruments are clear and simple. At the center stack, the infotainment screen, audio, and climate controls are all placed well with an intuitive angular bent to the stack that pushes the most-used buttons to the fore. We especially like the light cant to the audio controls that are situated just below the large infotainment screen.

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In the second row, seating is still very spacious with a lot more headroom than the relatively short height of the Santa Fe might suggest. Shoulder room is especially comfy too. The second row can be either a bench or a pair of pilot seats, depending on configuration choice. Behind that second row is a third row of seating that holds up to two. These seats are a bit low and cramped for most adults, but are intended for and excellent for children and teenagers.

Cargo space is good as well. There are 13.5 cubic feet behind the third row and folding that opens up 41 cubic feet of space. With both rear rows folded, a big 80 cubes become available. That's on par with 3-row crossovers in this segment, though there are some with more space for your stuff. Those rivals will also be larger in footprint and less maneuverable around town.

Technology (10/10)

The SE model for the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe features a small 4.3-inch infotainment display and standard Blue Link telematics. Bluetooth connectivity and controls for audio and climate are included with this base package.

Upgrading to the better system brings a more readable 8-inch touchscreen (available in any trim) with navigation and more app integration. The Hyundai system is not the most technologically-advanced on the market, but it's definitely one of the easiest to use. We feel that for the vast majority of buyers in this segment, the Santa Fe's infotainment is exactly what is needed without a lot of extra bloat.

Fuel Economy (8/10)

Expected fuel economy numbers in the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe are about average for the 3-row crossover segment. The front-wheel drive model receives an EPA rating of 21 mpg combined, with 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel drive models lower that number of 20 mpg combined (18/24). The Ultimate package adds some weight to the Santa Fe and drops fuel economy numbers by about 1 point in either FWD or AWD.

In the real world, our AWD model of the 2016 Santa Fe held those EPA estimates well at about 19 mpg combined despite our high altitude and rainy weather.

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Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (9/10)

The 2016 Santa Fe was rated as "Better Than Most" by the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study with a high predicted reliability rating. One recall has been issued for the Santa Fe, a minor one involving the seat-belt light, as of this writing.

Bolstering the Hyundai Santa Fe's quality rating is the industry-best five year/60,000-mile warranty bumper-to-bumper and the 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty included with the crossover.

Safety (8/10)

The 2016 Santa Fe has about average crash test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the IIHS tests, it scored well in every crash but the small-overlap frontal-offset test, for which it scored only a second-best "Marginal" rating

- a common problem in this vehicle segment.

Standard safety equipment includes whiplash protection for rear impacts, a rearview camera, Hyundai's emergency telematics system (BlueLink) and a suite of airbags throughout the crossover.

Performance (8/10)

The only engine option for the Santa Fe in 2016 is a 3.3-liter V6 that outputs 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is also the only option, but either front-wheel or all-wheel drive are available. Towing is rated at up to 7,000 pounds.

This engine accelerates the 2016 Santa Fe well, though, with a good, though not overly peppy, push when pressed. Around town the Santa Fe is not generally punchy from a stop, such as when leaving lights, but keeps up with traffic without problems. In parking lots and tight spaces, the Santa Fe really shines with its very maneuverable nature.

On the highway the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe accelerates up the on-ramp very well and engages in at-speed passing without struggle. It's a solid and quiet ride to boot, though interior noise levels do rise if the panoramic roof is opted for. The Santa Fe absorbs the road well without becoming a dead fish.

In all, the performance levels for the 2016 Santa Fe are on par with or better than most in the 3-row crossover class.

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Pricing and Value (9/10)

The 2016 Santa Fe has a very competitive entry level price and a value-oriented mid- and upper-tier pricing structure. Most buyers will likely land in the mid-tiers in an SE model equipped well at about $30,000. For that, competing vehicles will have less in the way of opulence but may make up for that in other ways.

We feel that the Santa Fe, like many Hyundai vehicles, is a value-oriented buy at any trim or package level. With good (and achievable) fuel economy ratings and a strong warranty, the Santa Fe is one of the more value-oriented options on today's market.

Total Score and Competitive Comparison (71/80, 89%)

There is no shortage of excellent competition in the 3-row crossover segment. The very highly rated Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander are excellent choices and the Santa Fe has little on either outside of its powerful warranty. The Chevrolet Traverse is a good choice for those needing a lot of cargo carrying capability. The Ford Flex has the best third row in the business for those needing more passenger space.

The most compelling competition for the Santa Fe in terms of size and value comes from Hyundai's sister company Kia in the Sorento. Against these, there are ups and downs that favor either the Hyundai or its competitor. We advise you to look carefully and weigh your personal needs and options.

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Three-row segment shoppers will note that the oft-overlooked 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe has a lot going for it. It's definitely worth keeping on your list of possibles, especially given its value-oriented design and excellent engine and economy. If a super-huge 3-row isn't what you need, the Santa Fe is definitely a great choice.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
SUV - AWD
SE AWD 4dr SE V6 AWD 32150
Limited AWD 4dr Limited V6 AWD 36250
SUV - FWD
SE FWD 4dr SE V6 FWD 30400
Limited FWD 4dr Limited V6 FWD 34500

Comparison of 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe with Similar Cars

2016 Hyundai Santa Fe MSRP Invoice
2016 Hyundai Santa Fe $30,400 $28,960
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2016 Ford Explorer $31,050 $29,964 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe VS 2016 Ford Explorer
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee $29,995 $29,860 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe VS 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee
2016 Toyota Highlander $30,490 $27,837 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe VS 2016 Toyota Highlander
2016 GMC Acadia $30,975 $30,820 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe VS 2016 GMC Acadia
2016 Honda Pilot $30,345 $27,753 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe VS 2016 Honda Pilot

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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