WASHINGTON -- Hyundai has been making good-looking vehicles that offer many features at a very competitive price.
It was a reason that I bought a Hyundai several years ago for my fun commuter car and it served me very well.
For 2014, Hyundai looks to make big strides in the midsize crossover segment with the Santa Fe, a good looking six or seven-seat crossover. There are two trim levels -- GLS and Limited. You can choose front wheel drive or AWD for an extra $1,800 with a starting price under $30,000.
My tester was the 2014 Santa Fe Limited with front wheel drive and loaded for $39,500. The interior is a very strong attribute of this crossover. The heated and ventilated leather seats are comfortable and the trim and dash are a nice quality as well. The power lift gate is a nice touch and helps keep your hands clean by not having to touch the salt covered rear hatch after the last snow storm.
The limited trim package has second row captain's chairs and it makes riding in the second row a pleasant experience. The third row of seats is good for adults, at least for shorter trips, while children will love sitting in the back.
My ride also came with the technology package with navigation, infinity sound system, 19-inch wheels, rear parking assistance, heated second row seats, a heated steering wheel and a large panoramic sunroof among others. The large sunroof was enough for my wife to quickly put this crossover at the top of her list of three row crossovers.
Driving the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe is impressive whether you're carting the family down the street or taking that long road trip. With a 290 hp V6, the Santa Fe has plenty of pep and, for a larger crossover, it handles well and takes bumps with composure. I found it a competent people hauler filling five of the six seats most of my time. With the Hyundai there was always plenty of power and space for everyone. I was really impressed just how quiet a ride the Santa Fe is. There was little to no wind noise to speak of.
I averaged 21.2 mpg in 165 miles in mostly short trips and city driving. You can see 25 mpg on the highway and it only drops to 24 mpg if you choose to go with an AWD model that uses regular fuel. The brakes had no problem stopping the large crossover even with people and cargo. You can even tow up to 5,000 pounds on some Santa Fe models. Not every crossover can say that.
Hyundai has built a fine three-row crossover with the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited in a very competitive market. Again, the ride is very smooth and the interior is a nice place to be, and with nearly 300 hp the Santa Fe has plenty of power. You can get a lot of crossover for around $30,000 or spend more and get a near luxury crossover with all the toys.
With a 5 year, 60,000-mile new car warranty and a 10 year, 100,000-mile power train warranty you start to see how Hyundai has become a real player. Hyundai is using style, performance and value to win market share in the mid-size crossover class.
Editor's Note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI ,FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.
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