2010 Hyundai Santa Fe
The Small Things
There were definitely some small things that prevent this vehicle from being five-star rated, but that's because I have a post-grad degree in nit-pickery with a minor in complaining (ask my wife)--and they are all about feel.
Some of the plastics in the cargo bay and in the front cabin felt cheap, and when I pressed on them, they either felt rubbery or hard and scratchy like they came out of the mold and weren't finished. If I can touch it, it should feel smooth and solid, doesn't matter what the car.
The feedback from the buttons and switches was sometimes luxury car hefty or econocar cheap. They need to make this uniform so everything feels of a piece. It's small, but I think this is important.
One thing that always gets me about Hyundai is that their cars don't have a defining feature or character. Like the rev-happy four-cylinder engines from Honda, the thunk of a Mercedes-Benz door closing, the rorty sound of a Mazda rotary, the turbine-like acceleration of a BMW motor, or the quirky design of any French car you can think of. This is where Hyundai needs to up its game and refine the details. Don't be just as good as the other guys, surpass them.
All that having been said, the Santa Fe is a really nice ride. It'll do everything you ask of it, give you plenty of features for the money and be spacious for a family of four or five. It'll haul stuff, be comfy on a long journey, and given Hyundai's reliability record, it won't let you down, which can't be said for many things nowadays. So I'd say, if you want four-wheel drive traction, space, value, and you like sitting up high, the 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe is a great choice.