The Hyundai Santa Fe passed the most important test I threw its way with distinction, and that was ensuring the first road trip I took with my 7-month-old daughter was a success.
The Santa Fe swallowed the approximate 4,502 items needed for a baby to have an overnight stay with ease and with plenty of room to spare. The cabin was quiet at cruising speeds, and the comfortable ride meant my daughter slept for an incredible five hours in a six-hour trip. And when she was awake, she seemed to enjoy the optional rear sunshades and panoramic sunroof.
For mom and dad, her sizeable rear-facing car seat did not impede on our seating position in the front. Hyundai has also loaded the Santa Fe with plenty of active safety features that made us feel a bit safer about taking her across state lines, including blind-spot collision avoidance, rear-cross traffic alert, forward collision avoidance with pedestrian protection and lane keep assist.
One particularly useful feature for traversing highways is Hyundai’s blind spot camera. Turn on your blinker and the digital gauge cluster shows the video feed of a camera mounted on the Santa Fe’s exterior. The feed shows the blind spot on the side your signaling, letting you keep your eyes and head forward while still changing lanes safely.
Overall, the Santa Fe is a worthy road-tripper, and it serves as the old guard in Hyundai’s reworked crossover lineup that now includes the all-new Venue and Palisade, the latter serving as the replacement of the former 7-seat Santa Fe XL.
Updates to 2020 models include the aforementioned blind spot monitor, which is now standard on the top-of-the-line Limited trim, wireless charging is now standard on SEL models with the convenience package, rear occupant alert is standard on more models and Limited models get dark chrome exterior trim and premium door sill plates.
Two four-cylinder engines are offered, either a 2.4-liter or a 2.0-liter turbocharged model. The turbo option gives drivers 235 horsepower and 260 torques to the naturally aspirated engine’s 185-horsepower and 178 ft.-lb. of torque.
While I have not tested the 2.4-liter, the $1,700 premium for the turbo seems like money well spent. That is not because the turbocharged option is quick — it isn’t — but it provides decent acceleration and power for daily driving. With the 2.4-liter engine offering 50 less horsepower and 82 less torques, it can be assumed the Santa Fe would feel underpowered with the naturally aspirated engine.
While the turbo engine will not blow the doors off the competition, it provided no frustrations around town or on long highway stretches. That is, if you turn off the auto start/stop system, otherwise the Hyundai can lurch forward when the highway has become a two-lane parking lot.
But that system does help at the pumps. The turbo has mpg ratings of 20 in the city and 27 on the highway with front-wheel drive and 1 mpg less combined with all-wheel drive. Those figures are slightly less than the naturally aspirated engine and on the lower side of average for the midsized crossover market.
Both engines are paired with an unobtrusive 8-speed automatic.
Pricing starts at $26,125 with my top-of-the-range tester — an all-wheel drive Limited model — ringing in at just over $40,000. And the Santa Fe presents good value for money.
Four trims are available, from the base SE, SEL, SEL with Convenience Package and the Limited. While the SE has some good amenities for a base model, including smart cruise control with stop and go, the SEL includes heated front seats, added safety features and a 7-inch LCD instrument cluster. The Convenience Package ($2,250) ups the standard 17-inch alloy wheels to 18-inches, adds parking distance warning, hands-free tailgate, premium audio system, rear sunshades, wireless charging and other features.
Some features in the Premium Package ($2,750) include a panoramic sunroof, leather seating and LED lights. Limited trim models add both options groups along with exterior styling upgrades, a 115-volt power outlet, surround view and blind spot monitor systems, heated steering wheel, color head-up display, ventilated from seats and heated rear seats. The infotainment screen is also upped to 8-inches of the standard 7-inch screen.
It may not be the most eye-catching approach, but using Hyundai’s infotainment system is a breeze. The system works quickly, and there are plenty of useful analog controls. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on all models.
The Santa Fe’s interior styling isn’t the most striking, but it is practical and highly spacious for passengers and cargo.
The second row provides ample leg and headroom for adults, and the 60/40 split rear seats recline and have a center armrest and can be folded flat for added cargo space. The Santa Fe offers a sizeable 36-cubic feet with the rear seats erected and over 71-cubic feet with the seats down. There is also useful storage under the rear deck.
Hyundai’s new crossovers may have stolen the limelight recently, but the Santa Fe is a noteworthy option in the mid-sized crossover market. It is comfortable, spacious and provides good value for money.
And anything that can ease a long trip with a baby in backseat will always be good in my book.