Last year Hyundai introduced the fourth generation of the Santa Fe mid-sized sport utility vehicle. First introduced in the American market way back in 2001, the Santa Fe, named after its namesake city in New Mexico, quickly gained popularity and became Hyundai’s best-selling model.
Seems that this was really a turning point for the brand as popularity in both the Santa Fe and other models has continued to grow ever since. In fact, this past year marked a huge milestone as the new Palisade, a three-row SUV has also become an extremely popular SUV.
We actually took the opportunity for a real Sunday Drive in mid-May, as the Mt. Nebo loop had opened, and we thought it would be a great chance to take the mid-sized SUV up through the mountains to over 9,000 feet and some of the greatest views available of Utah and Sanpete valleys.
It was a perfect day to take the drive as temperatures had risen to the mid-90s in the valley, so getting into the high mountain air was somewhat of a relief. The Santa Fe handled the twists, turns and climbing with ease. Available this year with two different engines, both 4 cylinder, one being a 2.4 liter and the other a 2-liter turbocharged motor.
Our test ride came with the smaller turbocharged version, however, it had a total of 235 horsepower compared to the 185 of the larger motor. We found with the turbocharger it would sprint onto the freeway with ease and agility, and would highly recommend this version.
Even when we got high into the mountains on Sunday it was still climbing without a hiccup as we headed to the summit! This was all coupled to the drive train via an eight-speed automatic transmission that allowed for a quicker response off the line and contributed to better gas mileage as we came in at 27.6 mpg after almost 500 miles of driving.
The Santa Fe was also equipped with all-wheel drive, which we would have to highly recommend for the winters here in Utah, along with making the occasional off-road jaunt more pleasurable and confidently done for the owner.
This system has been developed by Hyundai specifically to give the driver more options out on the road no matter the conditions. It comes with three settings Normal, Sport and Smart. The Sport setting proved to give the SUV a quicker start and hold the lower gears longer for the drive. With Normal giving us a smoother more comfortable ride and Smart trying for the best mpg numbers possible.
It also will send more torque to the rear wheels when needed, along with being tuned to help with straight-line acceleration and medium to high speed cornering. We loved the way it slipped through the corners on the steep mountain road we were on, proving to be very nimble in these trying conditions.
Inside, the Limited edition of the Santa Fe proved to be as luxurious as any high-end vehicle we have driven coming with all the technology, safety and creature comforts we would have wanted.
A heads-up display is standard on the Limited, not an option and is virtually unheard of on a vehicle that barely topped $40,000. Not only that, it was a huge 8.5 inches and could easily be configured to display different information and in different colors. It worked very well in coordination with the onboard navigation giving turn by turn directions, which were projected onto the front windshield.
This is all made to look as if it were 7 feet in front of the vehicle so that we could be sure and read it with ease. We love this type of set-up as it allows the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road, with all the information right there, and would expect it to become even more commonplace in the next couple of years.
The seats inside were leather clad of course, with heat both in the front and rear along with cooled front seats which was a blessing in the 95-degree weather. We also loved the look of the head liner, something we would usually not notice, however, it was done in a very nice gray-speckled fabric that we have not seen before, just a little extra touch that added to the interior ambience.
A large 8-inch touch screen made up the infotainment center and was easy to manipulate and use. It could also be set to a home screen with three different functions being displayed at one time. The center instrument cluster was also an LED screen that could display multiple items.
This year also included a three-year subscription to the Hyundai’s Blue Link safety system, which is quite similar to GM’s OnStar system. Connected Care and Guidance packages are free for three years. A super-cool feature here is that an Amazon Alexa can control your properly equipped Santa Fe out in the driveway. It is as simple as “Hey, Alexa, start my Santa Fe and set the temperature to 75 degrees.” What an easy way to get going in the morning.
There were a couple of new safety features included standard on the Limited this year, one is the Blind-View Monitor. What this does is project a side view of the vehicle in the center of the driver’s console when the turn signal is activated. It works in conjunction with the blind spot monitor to help the driver keep track of what is on the sides of the vehicle.
There is also now a rear occupant alert, which works on a door logic program when the door is opened and closed and an ultrasonic seat sensor that monitors for more weight. This will alert the driver if he leaves and does not open the rear door to retrieve what is there, especially helpful it a child is involved.
Also standard were automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and automatic high-beam, high-intensity headlights with dynamic bending light, radar cruise control that would actually stop the vehicle and start it again in stop-and-go traffic, and rear cross path detection when backing.
The new 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe would be an awesome addition to anyone’s daily drive and proved to be a very road-trip worthy SUV. If you’re looking for a new mid-sized SUV with all the extras that won’t break the bank, the Santa Fe might be just the ticket.