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- Better look for 2017
- Still good value for money
- Excellent cargo space
- Standard models still well-equipped
- Strong V-6
- All-wheel-drive penalty is sharp
- Could use newer transmission
- Third-row seat space is slight, compared to rivals
The sharper-looking 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe is still a good value for families looking for a three-row hauler—but its powertrain is starting to show its age.
For 2017, the Hyundai Santa Fe has received a significant overhaul. The Santa Fe is the larger, three-row crossover SUV that's related to the smaller two-row Santa Fe Sport.
Hyundai has split the trims for the Santa Fe based on seating configuration; the SE and SE Ultimate trims seat seven via a second-row bench, Limited and Limited Ultimate models seat six with second-row captains' chairs.
It earns a 7.5 out of 10 on our overall scale thanks to its comfort and versatility, and good feature set. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
The restyling marks a so-called "mid-cycle refresh" for the Santa Fe, and that's fairly accurate—the changes are only skin deep. A new front and rear bumper headline the refresh on the outside, and a slightly upgraded interior look rounds out the changes inside.
With the new bumpers, now there's a clear resemblance throughout the Hyundai SUV lineup and they're all the better for it. The Santa Fe Sport may hit the Goldilocks spot in the middle for us, but the Santa Fe's new front and rear bumpers smarten up the look. For the first time, the Santa Fe sports LED fog lights on Limited and higher trims that bookend a slim, wide lower opening.
Under the hood is the same 3.3-liter V-6 teamed with a 6-speed automatic that is competent and capable, albeit slightly aging compared to other 8- and 9-speed offerings from competitors such as the Honda Pilot and Dodge Durango. The engine is pulled from the Azera sedan, with 290 horsepower, with front- or all-wheel drive, and a base curb weight of about 4,000 pounds. Rolling on standard 18-inch wheels (19-inchers are on SE Ultimate and Limited Ultimate), the Santa Fe comes out of the box, ready to tow 5,000 pounds, its powertrain made more rugged and retuned for lower-powerband torque.
Comfort, quality, and safety
In front of the Santa Fe, the size advantage over the smaller crossovers is clear. There's ample knee room and leg room, though head room for tall passenger will be slim with the panoramic sunroof in SE Ultimate and Limited Ultimate models. The seats are more shapely and supportive than in the last Santa Fe, with very good bolstering on the bottom cushion that's not overly firm. Most versions have a power driver seat, and richly optioned models have a power passenger seat and heating for both. It's worth noting that Hyundai's headrests sit back at an ideal angle—they don't jut too far forward, as some active headrests do.
All Santa Fe models include a rearview camera, automatic headlights, keyless entry, cruise control, steering wheel-mounted controls, Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, cloth seating, dual climate control, eight-way power driver's seat, four 12-volt power outlets, AM/FM/XM/CD radio with six speakers and AUX input, and 7.0-inch display audio touchscreen. Limited and higher models can add leather seating, heated and ventilated seats, a power hands-free liftgate, upgraded 8.0-inch touchscreen and Infinity premium audio. All-wheel drive is available on all trims for $1,750 added to the final price.
The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe received the IIHS' coveted Top Safety Pick+ award, and federal testers gave the crossover a near-perfect five-star overall score. (Only a four-star score on the rollover test spoiled a clean sweep.)
According to the EPA, the Santa Fe manages 18 mpg city, 25 highway, 21 combined in front-drive. That's with it's 3.3-liter V-6 and a 6-speed automatic. Add all-wheel drive, and that number dips to 18/24/20 mpg. We suspect the Santa Fe may do better on the EPA test with more forward cogs.