BOSTON — I’ve been to Sante Fe a few times. It’s a lovely city, with fascinating culture, terrific food, and a psychedelic art exhibition called Meow Wolf partially funded by Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin.
I’m not sure what the capital of New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, has to do with a midsized crossover from a Korean carmaker. But, when it comes to marketing and the naming of cars, things don’t always have to make sense. That’s the Hyundai Santa Fe, in case you’re not up on your Korean midsized crossovers, and it’s a solid option for any midsized crossover shopper.
Like most Hyundais, it includes a ton of great safety tech including standard automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control (with stop-and-go), and Hyundai’s excellent lane-centering tech. This last one is especially notable, as it’s the best you’ll find this side of Tesla’s terrific Autopilot system.
It allows the car to steer itself (for brief moments) and keep the car centered in the lane, which is a boon for any commuter. It’s not that the car is driving for you — but it takes over some of the lower level driving for you.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t “self-driving” or an automated driving system. Using an advanced lane-centering system like this is the driving equivalent of using a KitchenAid stand mixer while making cookies. It makes life a lot easier, instead of making you do everything manually, though the driver is still directly involved in things.
The Santa Fe, like the Palisade that I drove last year and the Sonata earlier this year, is an ideal commuter car because of this autosteer tech.
Then there’s the warranty, which includes 5-year/60k mile bumper-to-bumper coverage, and then a 10-year/100k powertrain warranty. This is one of the best warranties in the business and, though I would expect solid reliability, it’s a solid enticement for a family car buyer over a competitor like Honda or Toyota which only include a 5-year/60k powertrain warranty.
To be honest, that stuff all sounds pretty boring — but when you’re looking at a sensible family car, the boring stuff is important. Is it safe? Will it get me to work/school/church/wherever every time? Does it have one of the biggest sunroofs ever fitted to a crossover? If the answer to all of those questions is yes, you’ve got yourself a keeper.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the Santa Fe isn’t perfect. It’s not exactly fast, even if you opt for the zippier 2.0-liter turbocharged engine like my test unit had. It also doesn’t have amazing fuel economy, scoring an EPA-estimated 20/27/23 in the thirstier, more powerful engine that I had. But it’s fast enough, and the fuel economy is certainly acceptable. And it’s a solid value, too.
Even my fully loaded Limited trim, which only lacked AWD (around $1,700 more) was $38,730 with all the toys you could ever want, including Hyundai’s trick blind spot cameras that show you what’s next to you in the dash cluster when you activate your turn signals.
The outside is pleasing to look at, especially the LED-daytime running lights. On the inside, you have a well-thought out dashboard with large, easy to understand buttons everywhere. There’s a spacious bin for your phone in front of the cupholders, standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto from a large, easy-to-use touchscreen.
Visibility is excellent and everything seems like it will age well. And that sunroof! Golly is it huge. It extends back beyond past the heads of your rear seat passengers, flooding the cabin with light and making for a pleasing experience on long journeys.
As an added bonus, it’s built in America at Hyundai’s Montgomery, Alabama assembly facility.
Like its namesake city, the Hyundai Santa Fe isn’t flashy. It might not come to mind first when you think about vacation destinations or which crossover to buy. But it’s a solid performer, with plenty of space to stretch out and lots to do when you’re there.