2017 Hyundai Santa Fe: Gains in design, infotainment, form and function

By Mike Blake - Carlisle Events
Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Hyundai Santa Fe midsize SUV debuted in 2000, and was an immediate hit with American buyers; and the more compact Santa Fe Sport arrived on the scene in 2013 with a smaller engine than its big brother while also earning top-seller status.

Built in Montgomery, Alabama, and West Point, Georgia, the Santa Fe line-up has been tweaked and enhanced for 2017, as Hyundai has made improvements to exterior design and LED lighting signatures, infotainment, convenience and safety technologies and by adding a new Drive Mode selection with Sport, Eco and Normal settings. The upgrades have helped the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport gain selection as the 2017 Consumer Guide® Automotive Best Buys for the midsize crossover/SUV class, and they were also named BestRide.com’s BestRides in their categories. Additionally, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, when equipped with optional front crash prevention, has earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s TOP SAFETY PICK+ award for achieving a high level of safety standards.

The augmentations for 2017 include exterior improvements consisting of a redesigned front fascia with brushed-appearance front grille and new headlight design; an enhanced rear fascia design with new taillights and new dual exhaust outlet design; new designs for 17-, 18-, and 19-inch alloy wheels; new rocker panel trim design with integrated silver accents and new available LED Daytime Running Lights.

The powertrain gets the new standard Drive Mode Select upgrade and the interior is enriched with a new, standard seven-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto™ (Santa Fe 3-row); available Infinity® premium audio with QuantumLogic® Surround and Clari-Fi™ Music Restoration Technology; available next-generation Hyundai Blue Link® (standard on Santa Fe) and a redesigned center stack.

Safetywise, Santa Fe sees gains with a standard Rearview Camera; Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, new, available Multi-View Camera System, Smart Cruise Control with Stop/Start function and Lane Departure Warning systems. Also newly available are an electronic parking brake system with auto-hold and Dynamic Bending Lights and High Beam Assist.

Sized to attract trend-conscious buyers, the smaller compact Sport is 184.6 inches long, 74 inches wide and 66.1 inches high on a 108.3-inch wheelbase, while the larger Santa Fe sits on a 110.2-inch wheelbase and measures 193.1 inches long, 74.2 inches high and 66.5 inches high. The Santa Fe Sport has a curbweight of 3769 lbs. and Santa Fe’s larger offering weighs in at around 4200 lbs.

Interior accommodations are nearly identical for the two Santa Fes, with slightly better second-row head room and foot room for the larger edition. In the well-appointed Sport, front headroom is 39.6 inches with 39.1 in row two. Legroom goes 41.3 inches in front and 39.4 in row two, while shoulder room is 58.5 inches in row one and 56.0 for the second seats. The larger vehicle also offers a third row with tighter space limits.

In terms of power, the Santa Fe Sport is outfitted with either the 2.4-liter GDI in-line 4 engine, rated at 185hp and 181 lbs.-ft. of torque or the 2.0-liter turbo in-line 4 rated at 240hp and 240 lbs.-ft. The full-size Santa Fe gets the 3.3-liter Lambda II V-6 at 290hp and 252 lbs.-ft. EPA ratings for the engines are 20 city/26 highway for the 2.4-liter; 19/26 for the 2.0-liter turbo and 19/24 for the 3.3 (all of those in AWD configuration). My week of testing the Sport with the 2.4-liter engine in AWD yielded a mixed-use average of 21.3mpg.

On the highway, MacPherson strut front suspension with twin-tube gas filled damper and hollow-type stabilizer bar mated with a multi-link rear with gas shock absorber and stabilizer bar provided a very smooth ride for the niche, and steering was sincere for the class. The cabin was quiet and acceleration was predictable and strong enough for passing and uphill grades, though pick-up lacked excitement at 9.5 seconds for the zero-to-60 dash and 17.2 seconds for the quarter-mile. The Turbo and larger 3.3-liter variations could shave more than a second off each time.

The 2017 Santa Fe starts at $30,800 in SE trim (FWD), $34,950 in Limited trim (FWD), $38,700 in Ultimate trim (FWD), and $39,400 in Limited Ultimate (FWD). AWD configuration raises the ante by $1750. Limited trim. The Sport series bases at $25,350 in FWD and $27,100 in AWD for the 2.4 model. The 2.0T (2.0-liter turbo) starts at $31,700 (FWD) and the Ultimate 2.0T starts at $36,500 (FWD). For the Sport, AWD is $1550 more.

My Santa Fe Sport based at $24,950 for the 2.4-liter engine in FWD and $26,500 for AWD that I tested. The Value Package added $1900 for heated dual power side mirrors with turn signal indicators, power windows with front auto-up/down, proximity key with push button start, 7-inch display audio with Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay™, SiriusXM and HD radio, dual automatic temperature control with CleanAir ionizer, Hyundai Blue Link® Connected Car System, power driver seat with lumbar support, heated front seats LED Daytime running lights, front fog lights and roof side rails, and premium lower front fascia (gloss black). Mudguards added $120 and all-weather floor mats were $130. Other high-tech and cosmetic items were available, but at this configuration, with freight charges of $895, my 2017 Hyundai Sport as tested came in under $30K at $29,545.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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