2007 Hyundai Santa Fe

By August 21, 2006
2007 Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai is on a roll. Its vehicles are proving to have the reliability and quality people expect from Japanese cars. The Hyundai Santa Fe is all-new for 2007 and early indications are that it could be a true alternative to the Toyota Highlander.

The Santa Fe is a so-called crossover SUV, meaning it's built like a car, using unibody construction instead of the body-on-frame construction of a traditional truck. It's a practical vehicle for everyday use.

Completely redesigned, the new 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe is attractive. It blends into the suburbs nicely, shedding the quirky looks of last year's model. It's larger than before and now offers third-row seating, for up to seven passengers. The five-passenger arrangement offers much more cargo space, however. The new Santa Fe is smooth and quiet and handles well on winding, paved roads. Yet it retains Hyundai's value quotient.

Model Lineup

The 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe comes in three trim levels: GLS, SE, and Limited. All-wheel-drive is offered as an option ($2,000) on all models. The seven-passenger Touring Package ($1,200) includes a folding third-row seat with auxiliary climate control.

Safety features that come standard on all models include dual front airbags, front seat side-impact airbags (for torso protection), side curtain airbags (for head protection) and active front head restraints. Active safety features include antilock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

The GLS ($20,945) is powered by a 185-hp 2.7-liter V6 engine. it comes standard with cloth upholstery, a five-speed manual gearbox. A four-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual control is optional ($1,200). The GLS is well equipped with air conditioning, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, 112-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers, rocker panel moldings, heated power side mirrors, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, 16-inch alloy wheels, and a roof rack with rails.

The SE ($23,645) has a more powerful, 242-hp 3.3-liter V6 with a five-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic and 18-inch alloy wheels. In addition to the equipment found on the GLS, the SE adds electrochromic auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, front fog lights and steering wheel audio controls. An optional Premium Package ($1,600) adds a power driver seat with power lumbar support, a power tilt/slide glass sunroof, heated front seats and HomeLink. The Ultimate Package ($3,850) includes the Premium Package features, plus a rear-seat entertainment system with an eight-inch LCD monitor, 252-watt AM/FM/CD-changer/MP3 audio system with seven speakers (including subwoofer) and external amplifier, and a 115-volt power outlet in the rear cargo area.

The Limited ($25,945) adds leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, power driver seat with power lumbar support, dual zone automatic temperature control with outside temperature display and HomeLink. A chrome grille and exterior door handles, as well as a body color hatch spoiler, distinguish the Limited. The Ultimate Package ($3,550) includes a sunroof, rear-seat entertainment system with an eight-inch LCD monitor, a 605-watt Infinity Logic 7 Surround Sound AM/FM/CD-changer/MP3 audio system with 10 speakers (including subwoofer) and external amplifier, 115-volt power outlet and power front passenger seat.

XM Satellite Radio and a navigation system will be available on later models.

The Santa Fe includes Hyundai's bumper-to-bumper warranty of five years/60,000 miles and a powertrain warranty of 10 years/100,000 miles.


Compared to the previous-generation model (2006 and earlier), which was polarizing with its curvy lines, the new Hyundai Santa Fe blends in with other SUVs in its segment.

Hyundai says the new Santa Fe evokes the assertive grace of a speed skater with a relatively long wheelbase and short overhangs. Certainly if you squint your eyes and look at the side it has more of a profile of a sporty station wagon than that of a traditional body-on-frame SUV. Some would say it looks like a smaller version of the Volkswagen Touareg, which is not a bad comparison.

The most noticeable attribute of the Santa Fe's front is the complete absence of a bumper. Instead the front valence curves around from beneath the body to encompass the large grille and wrap around headlights. The hood slopes up toward the raked windshield and the wedge shape continues along the lower edges of the side windows that sweep up dramatically toward the tailgate.

Even the rear has distinctively curved lines with high mounted taillight clusters that are partially mounted on the main body and the tailgate. The easy to see and easy to grab tailgate handle is definitely a Santa Fe design cue.

Although the new Santa Fe is slightly larger than the previous model, it looks smaller because its styling is more refined and it looks less like a truck.

Interior Features

Pleasing is the best way to describe the interior of the Hyundai Santa fe as it features modern plastics with a soft touch feel. All models include blue accent lighting at night to illuminate the instruments, switches and the edges of the front cupholders. Even the base GLS has nice luxury touches that include realistic looking, but fake wood-trim accents across the width of the dashboard, surrounding the shifter and along the door panels.

The gauges are mounted in a large instrument pod in front of the steering wheel. The radio and climate controls are well located in a center stack that is mounted high in the dashboard for easy reach and observation while driving.

According to Hyundai's measurements, the headroom and legroom is greater in all rows than in competing models thanks to a uniquely designed unibody that is not based off an existing car platform, thus allowing the engineers to maximize interior space without compromise.

With the optional third row of seats folded down there is a generous 34.2 cubic feet of storage space on an almost flat floor. Fold down the middle row of seats and there is 79.3 cubic feet of storage space. Although the Santa Fe is one of smallest midsize SUVs in exterior dimensions it is far from being the smallest inside, a tribute to its space-efficient design.

The air vents for the center row of seats are mounted in the B-pillar, which is much more effective than being mounted down low behind the center console, as in many vehicles.

We did not get to try a model with the third row of seats. In our experience they are of limited use for anything more than carrying kids short distances. With them in place there is a mere 10 cubic feet of cargo space, which is no more than you'll find in a cramped two-door coupe. If you really need to carry seven passengers and/or cargo, a minivan is far more practical. Additionally, one loses the very practical hidden storage space under the rear floor when the vehicle is fitted with the optional third row of seats.

Driving Impressions

Nobody can really expect an SUV, even one built using a stiff unibody, to handle as well as a sedan. However the new Hyundai Santa Fe comes mighty close. Indeed as long as you don't fling it around corners as if you're in a sports sedan, you'll have no complaints about the Santa Fe's handling.

Overall, the driving experience is transparent, meaning there is nothing outstanding, negatively or positively. The steering has a pleasant feel, neither too tight nor too loose, the brakes work well if not dramatically, the ride is smooth and the vehicle is quiet.

The GLS comes with the smaller of two available V6 engines and is available with a manual transmission, which is a unique combination in the U.S. We haven't had a chance to check it out and Hyundai admits few people will buy one, but a manual transmission is available for drivers who want one.

We briefly drove a Santa Fe with all-wheel drive and on dry pavement it did not feel any different from the front-drive model. All-wheel drive is designed to improve handling stability and traction on slippery surfaces.

All Santa Fe models include electronic stability control with traction control.

The best value may be the front-drive SE model, which has the same high-tech aluminum engine and transmission as the Limited.


The Hyundai Santa Fe is the same size as the Toyota Highlander, but it costs less. Judging from Hyundai's performance in J.D. Power and Associates quality studies, Hyundai's vehicles are right in there in terms of quality and reliability as well. If you're in the market for a suburban SUV rather than a genuine off-road vehicle, the capable and refined Santa Fe should be included on your shopping list.

NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent John Rettie drove the Hyundai Santa Fe in Santa Barbara.

Model Line Overview
Model lineup:Hyundai Santa Fe GLS Manual ($20,945); GLS Automatic ($22,145); SE ($23,645); Limited ($25,945)
Engines:185-hp 2.7-liter dohc 24-valve V6; 242-hp 3.3-liter dohc 24-valve V6
Transmissions:5-speed manual; 4-speed automatic; 5-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard):frontal airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, side-impact curtain airbags, active front head restraints, electronic stability control, traction control, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, tire pressure monitoring system
Safety equipment (optional):N/A
Basic warranty:5 years/60,000 miles
Assembled in:Montgomery, Alabama
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSPR):Hyundai Santa Fe Limited ($25,945)
Standard equipment:leather seating surfaces, dual zone climate control, heated front seats, power driver seat, 18-inch alloy wheels
Options as tested (MSPR):none
Destination charge:$650
Gas guzzler tax:N/A
Price as tested (MSPR):$26595
Layout:front-wheel drive
Engine:3.3-liter dohc 24-valve V6
Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm):242 @ 6000
Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm):226 @ 4500
Transmission:5-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:19/24 mpg
Wheelbase:106.3 in.
Length/width/height:184.1/74.4/67.9 in.
Track, f/r:63.6/63.8 in.
Turning circle:35.8 ft.
Seating Capacity:7
Head/hip/leg room, f:40.2/55.8/42.6 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:39.6/55.0/36.8 in.
Head/hip/leg room, r:34.8/44.6/31.3 in.
Cargo volume:78.2 cu. ft.
Towing capacity:3500 Lbs.
Suspension, f:independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs
Suspension, r:independent, trailing arms with multi-links, coil springs
Ground clearance:8.1 in.
Curb weigth:3945 lbs.
Brakes, f/r:disc/disc with ABS
Fuel capacity:19.8 gal.
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of August 21, 2006.Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: 800-826-2277 - www.hyundaiusa.com