Crossover Utility Vehicles

Being involved in automotive media means that now friends and family members will sometimes ask for my opinion on cars. They also ask about automotive trends. One friend in particular mentioned that it was getting harder to distinguish an SUV from a crossover. You have compact crossovers, mid-size crossovers, wagons that are labeled as crossovers, and full size SUV’s that are sold as crossovers. There is even a term for it called CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle). Now I had the keys to the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Ultimate, a CUV. The same vehicle that had been voted Full Size CUV of Texas by the Texas Auto Writers Association. With a title like that under its grille my first impressions of the Santa Fe were good but they quickly turned to great within the hour.

Exterior

For 2017, the Santa Fe received some design tweaks to the front and rear end to give it a more confidence, intelligence, appearance. Staring at the front end gives you the impression that the Santa Fe looks smug and well aware of its many features and abilities. It welcomes you to prove its worthiness as a contender in the cut-throat world of Crossovers. The Santa Fe I was driving came dressed in Beckett Black paint which is a nice color but the design lines of the vehicle were lost in the darkness.

It made the CUV appear shapeless the second you looked passed the front fender until you got to the tailgate. The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe is not an ugly vehicle by no means, but it’s not a head turner either. However, it’s a handsome design that won’t leave you feeling disappointed when you walk towards it in the morning. The LED accents on the headlights are a nice touch and the 19in alloy wheels make it appear more upscale.

Interior

This is where the Santa Fe starts to unveil its party tricks. I appreciated the dark brown accents coupled with the beige leather seats. A nice change from the typical black with tan or solid black interiors. This particular model was the Limited Ultimate, Santa Fe’s top of the line trim level, so the cabin was a Star Trek Enterprise of buttons and switches aimed to make you more comfortable. Heat/Cooling leather seats for everyone on board; even third row passengers who also got their own climate controls.

It came with everything you can expect to find in a fully equipped vehicle. The 8 inch touchscreen displayed the standard backup camera that offers a 360 view of the vehicle. Backing up into tight spaces now feels like playing a video game as you guide the bird eye’s view of the CUV into the space you want. Of course you can still use your eyes and side mirrors but this backup camera allows you to double check your work in real time. The camera may not replace your mirrors but will still be very helpful when backing up.

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Proximity key with push button ignition, surround sound audio system, and satellite radio are just some of the other features you get for your money with the Santa Fe. For visuals, the Santa Fe has a panoramic sunroof that extends to the rear of the vehicle. Match that with second row captain chairs and the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe feels like a space cruiser at night. I took the Santa Fe on a road trip to the next town over from San Antonio with friends. They told me the captain chairs made them feel like they were sitting in their own private jet. Total comfort with room to stretch and a view of the night sky above their heads as the Santa Fe floated over the interstate miles.

Specs.

The engine that moves this 4,000 pound CUV is a 3.3 liter GDI V6 that puts out 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. All-Wheel Drive is available with the Santa Fe, but the one I was in was just FWD. The V6 engine allows the Hyundai Santa Fe to be quick on its feet and is surprisingly nimble for its size. Next to the steering wheel, on the left hand side, you have a DRIVE MODE button which allows you to switch between normal, ECO, and SPORT mode. On the road, the Hyundai feels light like a sedan and responds quick when you stab the throttle. On the highways of San Antonio having a vehicle that can respond to a situation as quickly as you is vital for defensive driving.

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One thing I learned about myself during my week with the Santa Fe is that I am a late braker. I found this out because the Santa Fe’s forward collision alert kept flashing when it noticed a car in front and I had not applied the brakes yet. A feature that is very useful for people with bad driving habits involving smart phones, but annoying for attentive drivers. The alarming beeping noise makes you jump assuming that the worse is near for a brief second before realizing that it’s just the car taking precaution. To avoid this it is best to take advantage of Hyundai’s Smart Cruise Control (SCC) that will adjust its speed when a vehicle is in front to maintain a safe distance, and accelerate back to the speed you selected when it knows there is nothing in front of it.

Gas mileage on the Santa Fe is also good. Getting 17 in the city and 23 on the highway for an average of 20 mpg. During my week with the Santa Fe I was able to average 22.8 mpg, with my highest average for a day being as high as 27.6 mpg! Pricing for the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe starts at $30K and travels up through trim levels. The Limited Unlimited shown here was stickered at $42,885.

Final Thoughts

Few complaints with the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe. Trunk space is next to none when the third row is being used. Forward collision warning alert can give you a pop-goes-the-weasel scare if you like to brake late. Sitting in the third row means being in your own space far away from the rest of the action, which can be a positive or negative depending on the passenger.

Compliments for the Santa Fe. Sport mode allows you to have fun while driving 6 other people around town. The second row captain chairs are first class. Panoramic sunroof gives you the illusion of space travel at night and wide open scenery during the day. The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe is a mid-size SUV, or full size CUV, that is great for families who have out grown the minivan car seats. Families with children old enough to sit still during car trips and can appreciate the features the Santa Fe has to offer. It’s a post-minivan.

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