Class: Midsize Crossover
Miles Driven: 615
Fuel Used: 31.0 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 19.8 mpg
Driving mix: 45% city, 55% highway
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 17/22/19 (city/highway/combined)
Base price: $41,150 (not including $895 destination charge)
Options on test car: Ultimate Tech Package ($2100), carpeted floor mats ($150)
Price as tested: $44,295
The great: Passenger room and comfort, generous selection of comfort and safety features
The good: Drivetrain performance, ride quality
The not so good: Pricey in optioned-up topline form
When you name a vehicle “Limited Ultimate,” like Hyundai has done at the head of the Santa Fe line of midsize crossover sport-utilities, the only thing left to do is drop the mic and walk offstage. There can’t be a better one next year—what could they possibly call it?
All snarkery aside, Hyundai has elevated what used to be an Ultimate option package to what’s essentially a stand-alone trim level. There now are Ultimate versions of the core 7-passenger SE and 6-passenger Limited models. Ultimates add 19-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, a surround-view camera, panoramic sunroof, memory driver’s seat and mirrors, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, heated steering wheel, 115-volt power outlet in the cargo area, Infinity sound system, and navigation on an 8-inch touchscreen. All that separate a Limited Ultimate from a $700-cheaper SE Ultimate are silver-painted door-trim accents, LED taillights, and middle-row captain’s chairs in place of a 3-passenger folding bench seat.
Consumer Guide® sampled a Limited Ultimate that was about as ultimate as Ultimate gets, with all-wheel drive and the Tech Package option. Tossing in carpeted floor mats (one of a small number of individual accessories) and delivery, the test vehicle rang in at $44,295.
Three-row V6 Santa Fes—and their shorter 2-row, 4-cylinder Sport companions—are CG favorites, signified by “Best Buy” picks in their class since 2015. They hold their place for ’17 thanks to updates that include new front and rear fasciae, restyled headlights and taillights, and newly available LED running lights and fog lights (both of which are standard on the Limited Ultimate). In addition to the multi-view camera, other debut features include adaptive cruise control with full stop/start functionality, lane-departure warning, forward-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, and adaptive headlights with automatic high beams—a group of items that make up a substantial portion of the $2100 Tech Package.
There’s no change to the powerteam, a 3.3-liter 290-horsepower V6 and 6-speed automatic transmission. The pairing continues to deliver commendable power under different driving conditions, and without much noise. This driver put 170.5 work-commuting miles on the test truck and averaged 18.5 mpg with 60 percent of those miles in city-style driving. That’s consistent with his Santa Fe test drives from recent years, and right near the 19 mpg the EPA estimates a V6 Santa Fe should get in combined city/highway driving.
Ride is cushy without falling into the trap of getting too soft or wallowing. Steering and handling are geared less toward precise road feel than they are to ease of operation—at which they succeed. A “Drive Mode Select” button on the instrument panel adjusts steering effort (and throttle response) between “Eco,” “Normal,” and “Sport.” Punching up Sport clearly . . . activates an orange indicator light in the tachometer dial, as far as this tester could tell. Any deviation from the Normal setting was extremely subtle.
Seats in the first two rows are comfortable, with good legroom. The long sunroof reduces headroom a little bit, however. This reviewer was able to shimmy between the middle seats to reach the third row but it was hardly worth the trip. Tight legroom and a low cushion, resulting in knees-up seating, make these the worst seats in the house from an adult standpoint.
There are pockets with bottle holders in all four doors—large in front, a little less so in the rear doors. The center console hosts two cup holders, a small open space ahead of the shift lever with power and digital-device ports, and a deep cubby with an armrest lid. The glove box has decent capacity but is situated low enough that it will dump onto a passenger’s knees. Second-row passengers are presented with storage pouches on the back of both front seats, and twin cup holders that extend from the back of the console. A cup holder and shallow tray are molded into each side panel to accommodate third-row occupants.
Cabin materials in the premium Santa Fe mix and match luxury elements with strategic cost cuts. Plastics atop the dash and doors display some give at the touch at the usual touch points, but many other panels are obviously hard plastic. Main driving controls in the instrument cluster are easy to read, and audio presets are intuitively input through the big display screen. However, a goodly number of buttons for audio, climate, and other functions are spread around beneath the screen. Visibility is not bad, with perhaps some obstruction at the rear corners.
An automatic liftgate—it raises itself if you stand within 3 feet of the vehicle for more than 3 seconds while the key fob is in your possession—offers access to the cargo area. With all rows of seats up, cargo space is slight in back, so even the little bit of underfloor cargo space is welcome. An easy tug of a cord drops the 50/50 third-row seats flush with the load floor to form a generous cargo hold. For additional hauling space, the middle-row individual seats fold, albeit at a few inches higher than the rest of the cargo floor.
The superlative-laden name can’t obscure the fact that the test vehicle was fairly pricey as equipped. However, many of its fine features are still available in models further down the line, which careful shoppers will suss out ultimate-ly.