ever you needed proof that Hyundai's dark days of crappy quality and uninspiring
designs are over, take a look at the Santa Fe's interior: fit and finish is fabulous,
especially given how complex the design is and how many pieces need to match each
other, curve for curve. It's a good indicator of the kind of newfound assembly
quality that characterizes the new cars and trucks from Hyundai Motor Corp (that
also owns Kia). It's the kind of quality that allows Hyundai to stand behind its
products with a now-ubiquitous 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Santa Fe itself is a highly stylized, nicely-sized compact SUV that represents
a serious bargain at its high-teens, low-twenties price point. Passenger car architecture
bestows it with a comfortable ride, even with the available all-wheel drive system.
Its interior boasts lots of standard features, including cruise control, a/c,
power accessories, rear privacy glass and a CD player, even in base GL form. The
GLS adds things like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cassette/CD player, keyless
entry and fog lights. The top of the range is the LX, which adds traction control,
leather seats and climate control. A moonroof is optional on GLS and LX trims.
Santa Fes are motivated by a 150-hp four-cylinder engine that is a fuel sipper,
especially with the available manual transmission. If you can swing an extra $2500
or so, the GLS trim brings with it a 185-hp V-6, in addition to all the extra
interior features mentioned above. All-wheel drive is available with the V-6.