Hyundai Santa Fe information and reviews
All Santa Fe Trim Levels
The Santa Fe receives some significant updates for 2021. In fact, though it doesn't look like it, it sits on a new platform so it is actually a redesign. In this article Kelly Blue Book explains some of the updates and explains how the Santa Fe remains a Kelly Blue Book Best Buy in the 2-row Midsize SUV segment for 2021. Actually, they say the improved powertrains, technology, and more make it Best in Class for 2021.
While this is a review about the naturally aspirated 4-cylinder, as well as the tubo 4-cylinder, engines, I'm glad that MotorTrend brought this up about the Santa Fe turbo. The turbo is mated to a dual-clutch transmission. It is a wet-type, which tend to drive more refined than the dry-type. But a dual-clutch transmission is not as refined as a torque-converter automatic transmission. Then why even use a dual-clutch transmission? (A dual-clutch transmission is kind-of an automated manual transmission - you still put it in drive and it does its thing - but it has the mechanical idiosyncrasies of a manual transmission, since it is kind-of a robotically shifted manual transmission.) They use a dual-clutch because there are benefits to doing so - better fuel economy and more of the power that the engine creates makes it to the drive wheels. One of the downsides to the torque-converter automatic is that it sucks away more of the power than the engine creates as a trade-off for thar more refined operation. The lower efficiency of the torque converter also causes lower fuel economy. Personally I am happy to give up a little refinement to get better power and fuel economy. MotorTrend, while liking the improved acceleration, would prefer to sacrifice some of that for better refinement.... The rest of the article is very positive about the Santa Fe: it provides sportier handling than its competition while still being a comfortable drive, has better braking than just about all of its competition, is loaded with value, and has a near luxury trim level available.
Speaking of JD Power studies: let's face it, having a car that's easy to operate is critical to enjoying the car overall. Read through a number of reviews on this site and you will see a trend that Hyundai has among the highest satisfaction in the area of infotainment. It is no surprise, then, that the Hyundai Santa Fe places best in class for its multimedia systems.
The Santa Fe SEL Plus and higher trims have a rear seat minder to help parents and pet owners remember that a child or pet is in the back seat. But Hyundai is the only carmaker at the date of this article's writing (July 31, 2018) that has a sensor to help detect movement in the back seat after the car is turned off and the doors locked. It will honk the horn and send a text or email alert to the owner of the Santa Fe. This article defines the feature well, and does point out that while it is a great feature, it isn't foolproof. But it can certainly help. Read Consumer Reports' article, and helpful tips to help avoid heat stroke with children and pets.
Santa Fe Calligraphy
In this instrumented test review of the Santa Fe Calligraphy trim level, Car and Driver has a lot of good to say about it. Remember the review above that didn't care for the dual-clutch transmission? Well, others apparently feel the way I do as Car and Driver says the "new turbo-four and the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission work together seamlessly." They point out that it is quick, handles well, and gets decent fuel economy, making it very competitive in its class of stronger-engine-optioned midsize crossovers.
Cars.com sums up their review of the Santa Fe Calligraphy by calling it the best mainstream 2-row SUV on the market. They praise the strong power that the 2.5T produces and are impressed with the quick-shifting 8-speed wet-type dual-clutch automatic transmission that is paired with it. Nappa leather and an generous suite of safety and technology also earn high marks.
Santa Fe vs the Competition
The Santa Fe and its corporate sibling Kia Sorento are very similar in many ways. But this article from AutoGuide does a good job in explaining the differences and sums up why they would pick the Santa Fe. It primarily comes down to the Santa Fe offering more equipment earlier in the product range and the better pricing of the Santa Fe.
Santa Fe Hybrid
This is an AutoGuide review of the Santa Fe Hybrid. The Hybrid is pretty much just a Santa Fe with a different powertrain, so comments on everything else can be seen above. What AutoGuide said Hyundai got right in this Hybrid is that they weren't seeking the compromises that come with chasing the best fuel economy in class - there is no lack of power and no CVT transmission. Instead, Hyundai pairs the battery and the electric motor it powers with a 1.6L turbo and pairs all that with a 6-speed automatic transmission (my note: the 6-speed is specifically designed for use with Hybrids, which is why it does not use the 8-speed found in the standard engines). AutoGuide says this transforms the driving experience compared to many hybrids in its class. So it may not provide the best fuel economy, but it does provide the best driving experience. That is not to say the the fuel economy is underwhelming - it isn't - just that Hyundai prirotized driving experience.
Car and Driver says to think of the Santa Fe Hybrid as a performance benefit over the base engine, since it puts out over 40 more HP, that also happens to get better fuel efficiency. They also call its cabin premium and its road handling confident. They like the vast array of standard and available features that come at an appealing price.