The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe crossover sport utility vehicle is powered by a 3.3-liter V6 engine producing 290 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque. The unit is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive is available for all trims. The six-cylinder power plant did not hesitate when overtaking or merging with the highway pace. Being a naturally aspirated engine, it had a good throttle response and it delivered adequate acceleration. The shifts weren’t as smooth because transmission did not respond right away to the RPM limit. Despite being a bigger crossover, the Santa Fe handled its size with enough poise. Body roll was controlled and it had enough grip when cornering. The effort needed for steering was light enough and also turned accordingly. A tradeoff of this light steering was the reduced feedback when changing direction. Braking was adequate at best and stopped the vehicle reasonably on time. It took 125 feet to stop from 60 mph, an expected figure in its segment. The pedal feel was on the softer side but it remained responsive enough to modulate the bite.
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The base FE trim of the 2018 Santa Fe comes standard with LED daytime running lights, heated mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, automatic climate control, power-adjustable driver seat, heated front seats, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, satellite radio and an infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen and a six-speaker sound system. The SE Ultimate builds on the preceding trim by adding LED foglights, proximity key, push-to-start button, hands-free liftgate, heated and ventilated front seats, power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated second-row seats, a USB port, 115V power outlet, a bigger 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display and a 12-speaker sound system. The crème-de-la-crème Limited Ultimate trim has all the goodies found in the lower trims and it adds LED taillights and captain’s chairs for the second row. The Tech Package for the SE Ultimate and Limited Ultimate trims include xenon headlights and several advanced safety and driver aids.
The 2018 Santa Fe was tested by the NHTSA and it garnered five stars in the frontal crash test, five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the rollover test. Overall, it received a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA. It was also tested by the IIHS and it scored the highest scores for crashworthiness and crash avoidance and mitigation. Thus, it earned the 2018 Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS. The only safety equipment that is standard for the base trim is a rearview camera. Advanced safety and driver aids come as add-ons and they are a blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, multiview parking camera system, rear parking sensors, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.
The 2018 Santa Fe has a length of 193.1 inches, a width of 74.2 inches, a height of 66.5 inches and a wheelbase of 110.2 inches. The Santa Fe is a handsome crossover with its aggressive front fascia and a lower stance than most of its competition. The silhouette is modern and its overall aesthetic is on the understated side. The SE and SE Ultimate trims come with 18-inch wheels while the top-of-the-line Limited Ultimate comes with 19-inch wheels. The sunroof is only available starting with the SE Ultimate trim.
With a lower ground clearance than its rivals in the market, entering the cabin felt more like a step-in rather than a step-up. The rear door is longer than the front hence it did not fully open when parking in tighter spots. The legroom and headroom are generous for the first and second rows but the third row would be better suited for the kids. Seven people can be accommodated by the three rows of seats but the opting for the captain’s chairs reduces the capacity by one. The seats were comfortable enough for all-day driving. They were also ergonomic to the body but only the front seats were highly adjustable. The ride quality of a people carrier such as this leaned towards comfort. Driving over bumps and cracks did very little to disrupt the stability of the ride. Road and wind noise are attenuated well from inside the cabin for a relaxed ambiance.
There is 13.5 cu-ft of space behind the third row of seats and 40.9 cu-ft of space behind the second row of seats. Folding down the second and third row opens up 80 cu-ft of space for loading cargo.