Hyundai Santa Fe — Impressively refined

By David Finkelstein

Impressively refined! That's what comes to mind the very moment you get behind the wheel and drive the award-winning 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe, three-row Crossover. As a building block, the '17 version had already received a number of notable enhancements such as a reworked exterior design, upgraded safety features plus attractive LED signature lighting and additional infotainment and audio improvements.

A new component has been included with the use of a driver input “Drive Mode” selection setting controller. It's designed to assist with fine-tuning your driving characteristics, depending on road conditions and your performance appetite.

Positioned in the class of the Chevrolet Traverse, Volkswagen Atlas, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and the Kia Sorento, Santa Fe offers an awe-inspiring comprehensive list of standard features. This includes a sharp field of view/rearview backup camera system, automatic on/off headlights, remote keyless entry with security alarm, body color power operated side mirrors with driver’s blind spot mirror, LED headlight accents, daytime running lights, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise control and an advanced Bluetooth hands-free smartphone system.

Premium features such as brightly lit HID Xenon headlights, a full panoramic power sunroof, user friendly navigation and an updated 12-speaker Infinity Logic7 audio system-which consist of their latest QuantumLogic Surround and Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology are available on the option list.

Active Cornering Control and a windshield wiper de-icer system is also standard on AWD Santa Fe models. Also on the factory option list is Hyundai’s innovative power Hands-Free Smart Liftgate with Auto Open setup.

This was first exhibited on their up-scale Genesis line of vehicles a few years ago. It's designed to help make it easier for owners with their hands full to gain access to the cargo area. You simply need to be standing within a few feet of the rear bumper for a few seconds and have the key fob in a purse or pocket in order for it to be seamlessly prompted and activated.

Under the umbrella of standard safety equipment, the 2018 Santa Fe lineup includes Vehicle Stability Management with Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control, seven airbags, (including a driver’s knee airbag), four-wheel disc brakes and ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist, Hill-start Assist Control with Downhill Brake Control and an electronic “real time” Tire Pressure Monitoring System governing all four wheels.

The line-up for 2018 continues to offer front or all-wheel-drive chassis configurations. As for as the seating structure, Santa Fe can be formulated for five, six or seven passengers.

Powering this rock solid means of transportation is there all aluminum (cylinder heads and block assembly) 3.3-liter Lambda II V6 engine. It generates some 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. This is adequate for quick and smooth acceleration, even when the interior is loaded with passengers and gear.

All Santa Fe engines utilize high-pressure direct fuel injection and Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing. They're engineered to operate on regular grade fuel and the EPA numbers range from 17-MPG city, to 25-MPG highway. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models. With the optional brake upgrade, this full size crossover has a safe tow rating of 5,000 pounds.

The vehicle's interior is nicely refined with easy to understand controls and gauges. Seating is comfortable and the large window glass translates to a feeling of openness. Santa Fe is also compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for a seamless and intuitive operation of the most commonly-used smartphone functions.

This also includes navigation support, streaming audio feeds, voice-controlled search capabilities in various degrees, making phone calls and sending messages along with more than 40 approved smartphone apps.

Sold in three trims (SE, SE Ultimate & Limited Ultimate) the pricing ranges from $30,850 to $41,300. Shipping and destination charges tally up to an additional $950.

The Santa Fe is covered by a 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle limited warranty, Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and five years of complimentary roadside assistance.