2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Ultimate
Hyundai continues to be a crowd pleaser with its large, stylish SUV
by Tom Gomez, photos courtesy of Hyundai
Hyundai has come a long way over the years from their early start in 1967 in Seoul, South Korea. When the manufacturing powerhouse exported its Excel to American shores in 1986, it was aimed at budget-conscious consumers. Some in the auto industry panned the Excel, thinking that any car sold for less than $5,000 must be junk. They clearly underestimated Hyundai, ignoring the meteoric rise of Japanese carmakers that came before them and misjudging Hyundai’s commitment to the North American market.
Today Hyundai has shed it’s blue light special reputation thanks to attention-grabbing design and product quality backed by its 10-Year/100,000-Mile Powertrain Limited Warranty aimed squarely at detractors. It’s also invested heavily in products beyond the subcompact and compact category, including every carmaker’s favorite profit center – SUVs.
I recently had a chance to test drive the top shelf 2018 Santa Fe Limited Ultimate and tool it around for a few days. My personal vehicle is over twenty years old (and runs like a champ). Jumping from a tried-and-true relic to a state-of-the-art crossover took some adjusting. Granted, my old ride has air conditioning and power windows, door locks and such, but what we don’t have is a backup camera, lane changing warning alerts, front bumper alerts and a computer that tells you when your laundry is done. (Ok, maybe it doesn’t do that part, but wouldn’t it be cool if it did!)
Bigger is Better
The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe is a three-row family crossover that’s been in Hyundai’s stable for several years. Next year the Santa Fe will be called the Santa Fe XL, not sure why – it could be that Americans are getting bigger? Class competitors Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot have each ballooned in size to appeal to family buyers who are trending toward gargantuan SUV’s again after the economy killed all the full size trucks and SUV’s in 2007 and 2008. The Santa Fe features more interior cargo space than both the Highlander, Mazda CX-9, and Durango. Who would have thought back in the day that Hyundai would build a six passenger SUV*, and such a good-looking one to boot? *The Limited trim features six passenger seating with 2nd row captain’s chairs – the SE and SE Ultimate trims feature seven passenger seating.
Safety, Comfort, and Versatilty
While a new Santa Fe looms in the next model year or two, the current version still worth a look for its excellent crash safety and strong value, it gets a thumbs up for its comfort and versatility. Gas mileage, that’s a different story. Our test vehicle had the V6 and granted it had some pep and accelerated onto the freeway with ease, and like it’s big SUV brothers, you can see your fuel gauge head towards empty.
The Hyundai Santa Fe surrounds the front passengers with all kinds of space, and heats and ventilates their leather seats, for a price. Second-row passengers have it pretty good, too. Reserve the third row for kids and pets, if all the seats are in use: the Santa Fe’s less roomy rear storage is very small. We did like that the seats could all fold down flat and increase the cargo room for large items or a trip to Costco for a month’s supply of groceries
From the side, the Santa Fe’s proportions all but give away the goods. It’s a minivan without sliding side doors, and its tapered roofline and trim glass areas outpoint just about every minivan on the market.
The cockpit adopts another SUV gold standard, a shield-shaped control hub flanked by big air vents. Our test vehicle was the was pretty much fully loaded. The dash surface undulates, dipping low in front of passengers and bubbling up for gauges and the center stack, and large knobs control fan speed and audio volume. The Limited has a large touchscreen and electroluminescent gauges, and controls were easy to use during the day and night
Overall the Santa fe was cool to drive and I quickly started depending heavily on the lane change warnings, backup camera, and the huge sunroof. The 290 horsepower V6 provided plenty of get up and go when I need it, and I was able to average a very respectable 20 mpg in my week with the Santa Fe – not bad at all considering its size. When I returned the vehicle and got back into the 20 year old SUV, it was a little depressing to be without all the creature comforts.
If you’re looking for a crossover SUV and and something for the kids this is a perfect match. Maybe use it to actually take a trip to the Santa Fe’s namesake in New Mexico. With this much comfort and cargo space, the Santa Fe is a great choice for old-school family roadtrips.
For more information, visit the Hyundai USA website.
2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Ultimate FWD
Starting MSRP: $39,550
Tech Package ($2,100)
- Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with stop/start
- Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) with Pedestrian Detection
- Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
- Electronic Parking Brake (EPB) with Automatic Vehicle Hold
- High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights
- Dynamic Bending Light (DBL)
- High Beam Assist
Carpeted Floor Mats
EPA Fuel Estimates (City/Hwy/Combined): 17/23/20 mpg
Engine: 3.3L V6
Horsepower: 290hp @ 6400rpm
Torque: 252lb.-ft. @ 5200rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC®
Body Construction: Unibody
Wheelbase: 110.2 inches
Length: 193.1 inches
Height: 66.9 inches
Passengers: 6-passenger seating with 2nd row captain’s chairs
Total interior volume: 160.1 cu.-ft.
Total passenger volume: 146.6 cu.-ft.
Cargo volume (behind first seats): 80.0 cu.-ft.
Infinity® Premium Audio with Quantum Logic® Surround and Clari-Fi
HD Radio technology with multicasting
Smartphone/USB and aux-in jacks
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
8-inch touchscreen navigation
Blind Spot Detection
Rear Cross-traffic Alert
Lane Change Assist
Rear Parking Sensors
Multi-View Camera System
Vehicle Stability Management system
Electronic Stability Control
Traction Control Systems
1-year/100,000 mile powertrain
24-hour roadside assistance