Thursday, November 12, 2009

2008, 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe 3.3 GL

There aren't too many Korean cars I've posted so far so I'll probably start adding more...starting now.

Introduction: The Hyundai Santa Fe is a fairly new name in the Hyundai lineup. The original Santa Fe was a more rugged vehicle with several vehicles having a bull bar. It was mostly panned for its agricultural styling yet nonetheless it was one of Hyundai's better selling vehicles. For the model year 2007 Hyundai redesigned the Santa Fe ditching the unique but outdated styling in favour of a more modern and contemporary look.

By the time I drove the Santa Fe I actually have driven some decent Korean vehicles and I wasn't unhappy to see this vehicle on our lots unlike how I used to be.

Performance: For this review I have only driven the 3.3L V6 engine for the Santa Fe. Hyundai also offers a 2.7L V6 which is used on the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson. The 3.3L V6 produces 242 hp and 226 lb.ft of torque. I found this engine moves the Santa Fe at a pretty reasonably speed however despite being much more powerful than the older 3.5L Hyundai used on the older Tuscon this engine isn't terribly quick to move this CUV. This V6 manages to move the Santa Fe even with AWD from 0-100 km/h in about 8.3 seconds. Not bad, but with many Japanese SUVs being equipped with 3.5L V6s those manage to move in under 7 seconds. Still this engine is pretty smooth and reasonably quiet which is a big improvement over the older unrefined Hyundai engines.

My Score: 8/10 - A pretty good engine, its just not as quick as one wished

Handling: Taking a Santa Fe into the corners makes me wonder whether it lost some of its agricultural roots. This is a pretty refined vehicle, when making turns it actually seems pretty decent without feeling like it will tip over, the biggest worry taking a CUV in a corner too fast. The steering feel is actually there unlike earlier Hyundais giving you more confidence in the car's ability. Now its not to the level like the Mazda CX-7 but with stability and confidence this feels like a Hyundai from a different generation, a better generation. I didn't even feel road comfort got sacrificed for its relatively good cornering.

My Score: 8/10 - Not as fun as the Mazda but far more willing and far more capable than older Hyundais.

Interior: This is the Santa Fe's biggest upgrade over older Hyundais. When I got inside the interior not only was more attractive but even the plastics were of higher grade than what I was used to even from better known automakers. I was absolutely shocked at how much better the interior in this CUV was, a big reason why I was upset over the Corolla's fall in interior quality. I get the sense that Hyundai knew this interior was something worthwhile since after the Santa Fe, nearly every Hyundai from 2009 and beyond used similar lighting and plastic materials from this CUV. Even the stereo is better than older Hyundai units, normally this is where I can easily point out fault. Build quality is also strong with many North American Santa Fes being built in Montgomery, Alabama in the United States.

My Score: 10/10 - Good materials, attractive design, good build quality...a major turn around for Hyundai.

Styling: I didn't like the old Santa Fe's agricultural look, so this newer Santa Fe was a major improvement in my mind. Unlike many other Hyundai designs...I couldn't pinpoint a car that the Santa Fe copied directly, its probably the first Hyundai to actually sport a somewhat unique style of its own and it actually looks good. I actually think this is one of the better looking CUVs on the market, its too bad the 2010 grille worsens the image.

My Score: 10/10 - Very good looking design without direct copying, maybe Hyundai can style something after all.

Value for the money: The Santa Fe is a very good cross-over however I don't think the base vehicle is all that great of a deal mostly due to the aging engine it has to use. The 3.3L I drove is not as cheap and starts at $30,000. Its actually priced similar to that of the Toyota RAV4 while less expensive SUVs offer more. This is a different path for Hyundai since the Santa Fe is not the cheapest and is the one sporting higher quality materials.

My Score: 7/10 - Hyundai sacrifices low price in favour of quality, while I prefer this path I'm not sure if budget-conscious buyers will accept.

Overall: 43/50 - A very good mid-sized crossover, Hyundai has put quality over price.

No comments:

Post a Comment