2017 Hyundai Sante Fe review with video

The basics:

Base price: $28,599 + taxes
As tested: $34,899 + taxes
Average fuel economy during our road test: 9.1 L/100 kms (26 US MPG)
Competition: Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Subaru ForesterToyota RAV 4, etc.

The Sante Fe was a breath of fresh air to the Hyundai brand when it was released in 2000. The third generation was released in 2012 with a refresh for 2017 giving you some different exterior styling with improved aerodynamics. Inside, there’s more standard and optional equipment. Both engines have been retuned and Hyundai says there’s an 11 per cent improvement in fuel economy. And while this car fits into the compact SUV segment with the competition listed above, it is quite a bit bigger. So good fuel economy with a bit of extra room? Seems like a win-win for families. But the Sante Fe does have its shortcomings, too. Take a look at our full video review above and then check-out our list of pros and cons below.

– Good new exterior styling with new headlights, grille and bumpers
– Our tester, which had the base level 2.4-litre engine on board, gave us an impressive 9.1 L/100 kms over a week of driving (mostly in the city). That’s under Hyundai’s proposed fuel economy rating
– If you need to tow, go for the optional 2-litre turbo which has a towing capacity of up to 3500 (when the towing package is installed) or the Tucson XL, which is built on the same platform but slightly stretched, and can tow up to 5000 lbs with a standard 3.3 L V6
– The Sante Fe has a Top safety pick plus rating from the IIHS – but, unlike many of its competitors, you need to get into the top of the line trim to get Adaptive Cruise, Lane Keep Assist and Forward Collision Mitigation Braking
– 5 year, 100,000 kms warranty
– Second row leg room is good with 39 inches of it in the Sport and 40 inches in the slightly longer XL
– 1003 litres of trunk space in the Sport is very roomy for this segment and if you need even more, the XL has 1158 litres
– Was preparing for a real lack of power in our 2.4 L, 4 cylinder non-turbo tester. And while it wasn’t bad in the city, there wasn’t enough oomph at times on the highway – when passing or going up steep grades. The optional turbo engine gives you 55 more horsepower and more pep but won’t be as efficient, particularly in the city
– The starting price of $28,599 gives you a pretty basic car: front wheel drive, heated front seats, back-up camera, bluetooth connectivity. While Hyundai has typically been a leader in standard equipment, other manufacturers have caught up and this isn’t as much of a selling feature in the Sante Fe any more
– AWD is not standard and bumps the price up to at least $33,099. A CR-V with AWD and better standard equipment starts at $29,690 and a Subaru Forester starts at $26,000
– Despite the significant refresh for 2017, the general layout and design of the cabin is looking dated – it would’ve looked contemporary ten years ago – and doesn’t seem as contemporary as many of its competitors as well

– And the 5 inch infotainment system screen seems pretty puny compared to the slightly larger screens the competitors are offering on their base trims. You can get into a larger 8 inch screen on higher level trims of the Sante Fe but it’s not Apple CarPlay compatible and only the highest trims accept Android Auto which, again, is becoming more common among its competition

Family Wheels report card:

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 3/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 3/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 2.5/5 (67 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels trunk score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 4/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels value score: 3/5

Family Wheels overall score: 34/50= 68%


  • Cameron L.


    I really enjoyed the review! I asked for a review of the Santa Fe a while back. My wife and I bought our Santa Fe (a used 2013 Santa Fe Sport 2.0T) in October of last year. It was interesting to see what some of your impressions of the Santa Fe were, and to compare them to our experience.

    -I thought the Santa Fe was a very good value. Part of this was because of the high depreciation of Hyundai vehicles, which was a factor because I was buying used. The other part of this is also based off the fact that I didn’t consider the Santa Fe’s competitors to be compact SUVs. Looking at the size and power of the Santa Fe, I felt its competition were mid-size SUVs like the Ford Edge or Nissan Murano.
    -I wanted the 2.0 turbo engine for the ability to haul a holiday trailer, but I also appreciate the power in everyday situations. Considering the power of the vehicle, I consider the fuel economy to be quite good. (About 9.5L/100kms in mixed city driving, 8L/100 kms on the highway)
    -The overall size of the vehicle. It’s small enough to be easy to maneuver in traffic and when parking, but spacious inside. There is good room in the front seats when our daughter’s rear-facing car seat is installed (I’m 5’11”, my wife is 5’8″) and there is generous cargo capacity. I used the Santa Fe on a ski trip for four in February, and it took all four of us, plus all of our ski gear, clothes, and food without needing a roof rack. The shallow bins under the cargo floor are handy for storing small or rarely-used items like jumper cables or tow straps.
    -The 40/20/40 rear seats make it more practical when heading on a ski trip or carrying long items.
    -I find the vehicle to be reasonably quiet at highway speeds, but that might also be because our other car (a 2009 Civic) is so noisy!
    -The built in sunshades! I don’t know why more family vehicles don’t have these from the factory.
    -I like the look of the Santa Fe. It’s a clean, handsome vehicle design. I am also a fan of our car’s dark green colour scheme.

    -The ride and handling of the Santa Fe. I’m not expecting a BMW on stilts, but it can be a bit roly-poly in the corners. I can live with that, but I really don’t like the feeling of the suspension when it’s fully loaded. The rear suspension squats down, and frequently crashes into the bump stops when going over road undulations. The car then seems to violently rebound, leading to a pogo-motion in the rear. This feels dangerous, especially if this happens on a curve. Beefier shocks and struts in the back would give me more confidence .
    -I would also appreciate a more robust braking system. Like the suspension, it usually feels OK, but in more extreme situations (when loaded with cargo, panic stops, etc.) the brakes fade and the pads start to smoke and smell. I don’t consider myself to be a particularly aggressive driver, but I made the brake pads smoke driving UP the access road to Kicking Horse Ski Resort!
    -There is the option to change steering modes between Comfort, Normal, and Sport. All three feel about the same to me, and it just strikes me as gimmicky.

    Thanks again for the review. I enjoy all of your reviews, and enjoy seeing Calgary and the Rocky Mountains showcased in your videos! Keep up the good work.

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