2017 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD Ultimate AWD

Susan Frissell

The all-new, redesigned 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe keeps getting better, bigger and more costly. Our test “Limited Ultimate” edition came in just over $44,000; a high total vehicle price, we think, for a ‘reasonably priced’ Hyundai vehicle. But then, we sound out of touch harping about high-priced vehicles since in 2017, they’re all priced high.

With crossover vehicles and SUV’s being the most sought-after categories in Autoland, all manufacturers are trying to hit the mark. Checking all the boxes, Hyundai tries to deliver a large, well-equipped SUV in the 2017 Santa Fe that smacks of near-luxury.

For consumers seeking a spacious, three-row SUV, the Santa Fe offers a winning recipe, including up-to-date technology, a long list of standard equipment and handsome styling. The Santa Fe’s cabin is friendly, and comfortable; one can haul a fair amount of cargo, with Hyundai’s 3.3-liter V6 engine, there seems to be plenty of power.

Introduced at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, the Santa Fe gets larger, and better with each iteration.

The Santa Fe is available in several trim levels: SE ($30,800 FWD/32,550 AWD); Limited ($34,950 FWD, $36,700 AWD); Ultimate ((38,700 FWD, $40,450 AWD); and Limited Ultimate ($39,400 FWD, $41,150 AWD). Options include HID Headlights with dynamic bending light, Electronic parking brake, Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Auto Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and High Beam Assist.

Our test Santa Fe Limited Ultimate came with a couple of options, including the Ultimate Tech Package (Smart Cruise Control w/Stop/Start, Automatic Emergency Braking w/Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Electronic Parking Brake, High Intensity Discharge Headlights (HID), Dynamic Bending Light and High Beam Assist, $2,100; and Carpeted Floor Mats, $150.

There are many larger SUV’s to choose from and the 2017 Santa Fe most closely matches up to the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder and Mazda CX-9. A tad shorter in length than these three vehicles, the Santa Fe’s wheelbase is also a little shorter. However, storage space in the Santa Fe measures up to 80 cu. Ft. when folded flat.

We tested out the cargo space when hauling several car loads of stuff to a locker-including a good size sofa. The couch fit all the way in the Santa Fe, with room to spare and the back door easily closed.

Back-up Camera in the Santa Fe

If we owned a Santa Fe-or any SUV for that matter, it would strictly be to tote around the four dogs that take up residence in our home. Even then, they much prefer riding on the seats in the upright position, as opposed to when the seating is flat. Better control.

So, like most SUV owners, the seats probably would remain in the upward position most of the time.

The second-row seating in the Santa Fe is bucket seating. Supportive, yet only accommodating two passengers, Buyers can opt for a bench, if preferred. The third row seats are not terribly small, and passengers can even manage their own climate control.

Our Limited Ultimate Santa Fe is of course, the top-of-the-line Santa Fe, the interior is well done. Seating is comfortable and fits all body styles. Appointments are upscale and soft, controls easily reached and extra space to spare, both in the console and doors. We found the Santa Fe easy to maneuver and park, and offering a comfortable ride on most road surfaces. However, we did notice when taking bumps, the rear suspension took it hard.

The interior in our 2017 Santa Fe felt like top notch. Leather trim, eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and 12-speaker Infinity sound system, as well as heated/ventilated front seats were all upgrades.

Handsome 19-inch alloy wheels suit the 19-inch tires that provide for the most part, a quiet ride and handling experience. Our optional Tech Package at $2,100 is probably worth it when wanting the latest in technology, if you’re into that kind of thing. We find that many times when in top-of-the-line press vehicles, we don’t even get to all the fancy stuff. But assume that those who are high tech will like them and learn how to use them.

Our test Santa Fe came with AWD; also available with FWD, paired with the same six-speed automatic transmission. Having driven the Santa Fe alone, it’s hard to know if when loaded up, it would perform similarly. Even when full of ‘stuff,’ it handled well.

What makes a consumer select one manufacturer/style/vehicle over another? It is a difficult choice today, given there are so many to consider. Perhaps one of the better, more desirable three-row SUV’s on the market today, the Santa Fe remains ever popular. It feels refined, void of many glaring weaknesses, and although not ‘perfect,’ we think it wears well over time.


MSRP: $41,150; total vehicle price $44,295, delivery $895
Engine: 3.3-liter V6, GDI, 290 hp., 252 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/SHIFTRONIC
EPA Fuel Economy (MPG): 19 city, 22 highway, 17 combined, AWD; 17/23/20 FWD
Tires: 235/56R19
Wheels: 19-inch alloy
Wheelbase: 110.2 in.
Width: 74.2 in.
Height: 66.9 in.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 18.8 gal.
Curb weight: 4,017/4,169 lbs.
Warranty: 5 yr/50,000-mile New Vehicle; 10 yr/100,000-mile powertrain; 7 yr/unlimited-mileage anti-perforation; 5 yr/unlimited mileage roadside assistance

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