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Test Drive: 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited

2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited
2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited 2.0T in Machine Gray

2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited 2.0T AWD

Class: Midsize Crossover SUV

Miles driven: 575

Fuel used: 26.8 gallons

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortA-
Power and PerformanceC+
Fit and FinishB+
Fuel EconomyB+
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 GuyB
Tall GuyA
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.
Engine Specs235-hp 2.0-liter
Engine Typeturbo 4-cyl
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Drive WheelsAWD

Real-world fuel economy: 21.5 mpg

Driving mix: 45% city, 55% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 20/26/22 (city, highway, combined)

Fuel type: Regular gas

Base price: $39,200 (not including $1095 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: Carpeted floor mats ($135)

Price as tested: $40,430


Quick Hits

The great: Spacious, comfortable cabin offers good room for both passengers and cargo; generous list of comfort and safety features

The good: Nicely finished interior; low road- and wind-noise levels

The not so good: So-so acceleration for the “step-up” engine option

More Santa Fe price and availability information


John Biel

What, as an automaker, do you do the year after you do handsprings over a fully redone vehicle? You do what Hyundai did with the 2020 Santa Fe: You do the shuffle.

A simplified model lineup for 2020 leaves the Limited 2.0T AWD as the top-line trim level in the Santa Fe model roster.

After recrafting the Santa Fe as the smaller of its two midsize crossover SUVs in ’19, Hyundai has lopped off the middle-of-the-pack SEL Plus and the top-dog Ultimate, leaving SE, SEL, and Limited models in a choice of front-wheel- or all-wheel-drive configurations. For 2020, Limiteds like the one that Consumer Guide drove for this test have adopted the erstwhile Ultimate’s specific standard features while adding premium door-sill plates, dark-chrome door handles and other exterior trim, and new “Blind-View Monitor” that shows a camera view of the vehicle’s blind spot in the gauge cluster when turns or lane changes are signaled.

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The Santa Fe’s dashboard layout is both stylish and ergonomically agreeable, and Limiteds are decked out with plenty of comfort and convenience features. The rear-seat area is large enough to fit average-sized adults in comfort.

As before, all Santa Fes are available with a naturally aspirated 185-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission. However, the SEL and Limited can be had with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four. While opting for the turbo mill adds a whopping $6850 to an SEL (it comes with other equipment upgrades), it hikes the tab for a Limited by “just” $1850. With nothing more than carpeted floor mats and delivery added to the AWD turbo tester, CG’s Santa Fe Limited stickered for $40,430.

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The Santa Fe offers 35.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats, and 71.3 cubic feet with the second-row seatbacks folded down, which puts it about mid-pack among two-row midsize crossover SUVs.

The 235-horsepower turbo engine spins out 260 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration is sedate but at least power delivery is fairly linear in “Normal” mode. “Sport” prompts sharper throttle response, but acceleration seems peakier and somewhat disjointed. Once up to speed on the highway, the Santa Fe will cruise easily in either mode. There’s just enough oomph here to tow up to 3500 pounds when properly equipped. The EPA estimates that a turbo-engine all-wheel-drive Santa Fe will return 20 mpg in city use, 26 in highway driving, and 22 in combined operation. This reviewer logged 22.3 mpg in the wake of a 182-mile stint made up of 45 percent city-style motoring.

Our impressions of the Hyundai hauler’s dynamic capabilities with HTRAC torque-allocating AWD are unchanged. It absorbs bumps fairly well and rides comfortably, and it handles with a degree of cornering lean that’s predictable and tolerable. “Sport” driving mode firms up the steering a little bit, all to the good.

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Limited models come standard with 19-inch alloy wheels

Passenger comfort is tended to pretty well. There’s fine leg- and headroom in both rows, and a low floor hump makes it possible to seat a middle passenger (though maybe not an adult) in the rear seat. Speaking of the rear seats, they have manually adjustable backrests. Entry and exit are uncomplicated, and drivers can see well almost everywhere but to the rear corners.

The Limited’s cabin is as upscale as a Santa Fe gets, with leather upholstery for seats that are heated all around and ventilated in front. Driver and front passenger also get cushion extenders for added leg support. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is heated. There’s generous use of padded and soft-surface material in both rows. Driving gauges and the color head-up display show up big and clear. Infotainment includes navigation and a premium surround-sound Infinity audio system with HD and satellite radio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone compatibility. Operation through an 8-inch touchscreen is simple. Dual-zone climate control uses dials to select temperature, with buttons (some repetitive-push) for other functions.

Additional standard equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels, full LED lighting inside and out, panoramic sunroof, hands-free liftgate, 8-way power front seats with driver’s-seat memory, a 360-degree surround-view monitor, wireless device charging, and keyless entry and starting. The “Smart Sense” safety group  includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitor, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive cruise control, driver-attention warning, and “Safe Exit Assist” that uses radar to detect vehicles approaching from the rear to guard against passengers leaving the car into traffic. There’s also a parking-distance warning system with rear automatic braking, and “Rear Occupant Alert” that reminds drivers to check the rear row when exiting and monitors for the movement of anything—or anyone—they might leave behind.

For cabin storage of personal items there’s a sizable glove box and a covered console cubby with an adjustable tray. The console also hosts a pair of exposed cup holders, a big bay for the wireless charger and device inputs, and a bin for small items. Rear passengers get a storage pouch on the back of the front-passenger seat and cup holders in the pull-down center armrest.

General cargo space, accessible through a wide rear opening, is good, and there’s abundant provision for small items under the floor. The 60/40-split rear seats fold just almost flat and flush with the load floor when more capacity is called for, though there is a gap at the pivot point.

At a starting price north of $40,000, the Santa Fe Limited seems a little expensive, especially in the absence of a lively driving experience. But the essential vehicle delivers good room and utility, and considering that many of its key features can be had down the line for less money, it can represent good value.

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The Hyundai Santa Fe might not offer much in the way of excitement behind the wheel, but it is a versatile family hauler that offers excellent passenger room and competitive cargo room, plus a long list of available features.

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2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited

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