Overview

2017 Santa Fe

Overview (Final Score: B+)

The Hyundai Santa Fe's appeal is its mixture of affordability and accommodation. The Santa Fe offers comfortable seating for six or seven passengers, a strong-performing V6 engine and plenty of family friendly capability.

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe carries over largely unchanged from the excellent 2017 model. There are three trim levels to choose from, each seating six or seven, depending on configuration.

Although the 2018 Santa Fe may not be the best option in the midsize three-row market, it's certainly one of the more economically appealing because of its value orientation. (The smaller Santa Fe Sport is reviewed separately.)

What We Love About the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe:


  • Strong reliability expectation and excellent warranty

  • Top safety scores

  • Good value for the money spent, especially at mid-tier trim levels


 

What We Don't Love About the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe:


  • Advanced safety equipment is only available as an expensive add-on option

  • Fuel economy not as good as most competitors

  • Exterior looks are not very standout among contemporaries


 

2017 Santa Fe

Exterior View (8/10)

The 2018 Santa Fe is a good-looking vehicle, but tends to get lost in the crowd because does little to differentiate itself from contemporaries. Its design is generally understated and simplistic, but has elements that catch the eye at unusual moments.

The front grille is wide and robust, thanks to emphasized slats with chrome accent and the pronounced Hyundai symbol at center. The bumper beneath is minimized, as a large intake angles up from below and wide fog lamps flank to either side. The headlights are similarly flared, with more breadth than is the usual in this class. The somewhat flat, wide hood is marked with creases at either edge, just before the drop-off to create the front fenders.

The Santa Fe's windscreen is unusually low for a crossover of this size, emphasizing the rounded front portion of the roofline. Side panels on the Hyundai Santa Fe are creased at the door handles, with a line that begins thickly at the front, behind the wheel well, and runs through to the rear door handle. That handle has a new line beginning above it, to create a rear fender bulge for sportiness.

A pinched greenhouse marks the 2018 Santa Fe's beltline, which rises up at the rear door to make a cut into the rear pillar. This points towards the spoiler above the hatch and keeps the roofline edge smooth and angular.

The rear hatch is slanted with a bit of a bulge in the middle, and emphasizes a larger rear bumper with a strong declination beneath. Wide headlamps are split by the hatch opening.

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe has a good look and fits well in its class, but fails to excite beyond the average.

2017 Santa Fe

Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (8/10)

The Santa Fe's interior has improved over time and is now much better than might have been found in the past. Materials quality is good and interior design is well done on the whole, with a flowing appeal that isn't lost in technology. Two interior options are available for the 2018 Santa Fe, a seven-passenger configuration with a split-bench middle row or a six-passenger configuration with captain's chairs to replace the bench.

The front seating in the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe is excellent, with plenty of cushion and comfort for both the driver and front passenger. Legroom, headroom and shoulder room are very good, even for the big and tall. Entry and egress is also good with wide-swinging doors and lower sills for stepping in.

The base level 2018 Santa Fe has cloth upholstery and seating for seven. Upholstery improves through the trims, but the six-seat configuration is available only in the upper-crust 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Ultimate model. We drove the six-passenger model for a week and the seven-passenger briefly in our testing.

The seven-passenger setup for the Santa Fe is definitely more family friendly in terms of the options it allows for cargo and passenger configuration. The second row bench is a bit firm for longer rides and may have some adults shifting often to keep comfortable, especially in the outboard seats. The center seat in that second row can be used for kids, but really isn't adult-friendly on anything longer than short runs.

The third row is kids-only with limited room for adults. It's very accessible thanks to the tilting front seats and wide rear doors, but not very useful beyond carrying children.

Cargo space is similarly limited in the 2018 Santa Fe when compared to rivals. For most, the smaller numbers on paper won't likely translate to a lack of usefulness in the real world. We found the Santa Fe's cargo space to be more than adequate for family needs, including packing summer items for storage over the winter.

2017 Santa Fe

Technology (9/10)

Hyundai's infotainment suite is surprisingly good given that it receives little attention in the automotive press. The base model Santa Fe comes with a 7-inch infotainment display with six-speaker sound and basic Bluetooth connectivity. A USB port and a rearview parking camera are also included. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, satellite radio and dual-zone climate are standard in the 2018 Santa Fe.

The upgraded infotainment, which we thoroughly enjoyed, is based on an 8-inch touchscreen that adds more USB ports throughout the cabin, as well as a 120V household outlet.

Several other amenities are added with the Technology upgrade, including a lot of driver assistance and advanced safety options. This upgrade can be spendy, depending on the trim level chosen. It does add some more advanced options to the infotainment that might be worth it to some. We found the extra app connectivity and the navigation to be great upgrades. Voice controls are in all available Santa Fe models and are mostly pretty good at their job, though they can be tedious to use.

Fuel Economy (7/10)

The fuel economy estimates and realities for the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe are disappointing. The three-row market has improved immensely in mpg returns, and the Santa Fe is falling behind as a result. The 2018 Santa Fe is EPA-rated at 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Our week with the crossover returned low numbers at only 19 mpg overall.

Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (10/10)

There are no J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study results for the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe as of this writing, but the vehicle is mechanically identical to the 2017 model that received high marks as "Better Than Most." There have been no major recalls for the 2018 Santa Fe and the warranty it carries remains one of the best available at five years or 60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper and 10 years or 100,000 miles for the drivetrain.

Safety (10/10)

Although test results are incomplete as of this writing, the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe has received a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), mirroring its excellent scores from 2017.

Similarly, the 2018 Santa Fe received top scores of "Good" from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) on all of its crash testing, with an overall safety score of 10 and a likelihood of being named a Top Safety Pick again this year.

Performance (9/10)

The 2018 Santa Fe has great performance appeal for a non-sporting crossover. Powered by a 3.3-liter V6, the Santa FE outputs 290 horsepower into a six-speed automatic transmission. When pressed, this becomes a lot of muscle that might surprise some with its voracity on the road. Passing becomes almost fun.

Road noise is minimal in the 2018 Santa Fe and the ride feels well balanced. Visibility is good as well, but maneuverability can be a bit thick in tight situations, parking or maneuvering on narrow streets. We like the Santa Fe's overall drive quality though, and found it both engaging and comfortable.

Pricing and Value (9/10)

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe continues to be a steady seller, with average pricing in the $34,000 range. This is below the average for the segment where top-sellers like the Ford Explorer often command a few thousand dollars more. This, along with the Santa Fe's excellent warranty and long-standing admiration from buyers, means that it will likely stay in demand.

We'd recommend getting into the middle or upper tier models of the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe to find the best value for the dollars spent. At the SE Ultimate trim, the Santa Fe has a compelling mix of accouterments for the price tag.

2017 Santa Fe

Total Score and Competitive Comparison (70/80, 88%)

Competitors are not hard to come by in the three-row midsize segment. Best-sellers and favorites like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander are definite go-to's and there's good reason for that. Both are higher priced, on average, than the Santa Fe, but offer a lot of interior room and excellent family ergonomics.

The Mazda CX-9 is often overlooked in this segment, but is also a very good contender against the Santa Fe, as a sportier drive with a very smart interior. Hyundai's cousin the Kia Sorento is also a great value by comparison for its good interior feel and much lower price point.

Given all of this, the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe might seem like a middle-road option in the fast-paced midsize crossover market. That would be a correct assessment, but it doesn't mean that the 2018 Santa Fe should be ignored when you're shopping. The Santa Fe offers a lot to those who need what it can bring - namely the stately road presence and confident feel to go with the passenger accommodations.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
SUV - AWD
SE SE 3.3L Auto AWD V6 AWD 32600
SE Ultimate SE Ultimate 3.3L Auto AWD V6 AWD 40600
Limited Ultimate Limited Ultimate 3.3L Auto AWD V6 AWD 41300
SUV - FWD
SE SE 3.3L Auto V6 FWD 30850
SE Ultimate SE Ultimate 3.3L Auto V6 FWD 38850
Limited Ultimate Limited Ultimate 3.3L Auto V6 FWD 39550

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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