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Hyundai scores with Santa Fe SUVs


In recent years, Hyundai has gotten very good at delivering the goods throughout its vehicle line-up.

The South Korean auto manufacturer has crafted a winning formula that includes attractive styling, lots of value, affordable pricing, and a killer warranty on its drivetrain - 10 years, 100,000 miles.

One of Hyundai's more impressive vehicles is the 2014 Santa Fe, a sport utility vehicle that has three rows and seats seven. It replaced the 2012 Veracruz in the Hyundai lineup.

There's more than one version of the Santa Fe. The Santa Fe Sport carries five people and has been an impressive Hyundai flag carrier.

Both Santa Fe models are attractive and provide a graceful, dependable ride. Note that while most Hyundai vehicles continue to gain in status, their sticker prices are inching up as well. The Sport starts at around $24,950 and its big brother goes for around $33,790.

Competition remains stiff in both categories. Santa Fe rivals include the Dodge Durango, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer and Mazda CX-9. The Sport model goes head-to-head with the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4.

One of the things I love about Hyundai vehicles is the generous list of standard features. The Santa Fe is no exception.

The standard category list includes: foglights; rear spoiler; windshield wiper de-icers; air-conditioning (with second- and third-row rear vents and controls); leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar); heated front seats; 40/20/40-split sliding and reclining second-row seat and a 50/50-split-folding third-row seat; rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; six-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, USB/iPod integration; 4.3-inch touchscreen display.

The Santa Fe has an impressive powertrain, a 3.3-liter, V6 that produces 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. The front-wheel drive SUV goes 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds, which is quick for its class. The Santa Fe can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport

  • Performance: 3.3-liter, V6, 290 horsepower; 2.4-liter, four-cylinder, 190 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 18-25 mpg; 20-27 mpg
  • Estimated price: $24,950 to $35,750
  • Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles; drivetrain: 10 years/100,000 miles; roadside assistance: 5 years/unlimited corrosion: 7 years/unlimited

On a recent trip into the Sierra range near Lake Tahoe, I discovered the Santa Fe Sport provided solid performance as well. It navigated some challenging mountainous terrain adroitly and didn't labor while climbing some sizable hills.

The Sport model has a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine with 190 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. One knock against the Sport is the gas mileage (20 city/27 highway) isn't as good as some of its rivals. An option is the Sport 2.0T, a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that has 264 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque and gets between 19-27 mpg.

Equipped with three rows, the Santa Fe cabin is roomy overall. The third row is fine for even teens and an added plus is its easy access. The cabin is attractive and features a modern design that doesn't require diving into the driver's manual to figure things out.

The Sport also features a comfortable, spacious cabin and a smart set up. The backseat has a sliding and reclining bench seat that gives this SUV some versatility. The cargo area behind the second row is 35.4 cubic feet, which is excellent for any road trips.

From this vantage point, purchasing either the Sana Fe or its little brother the Sport is a wise selection. There's plenty of upside to either one of these Hyundai SUVs.

Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.

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