2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Expert Review

4.0 Overall Score
Performance 4.2 Comfort 3.8 Styling 4.2 Value 4.0

Editor's Overview

A midsize 7-passenger SUV, the popular 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe offers families plenty of space, impressive standard features and a 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6. With a starting price just over $31,000, three rows of seats and the highest possible safety ratings, the midsize Santa Fe competes with the Kia Sorento, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, GMC Acadia, Ford Explorer and Chevy Traverse.

You'll Like The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe If...

Your family’s space, safety and security should not come at the expense of an enjoyable drive, and the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe manages to check all the boxes on that wish list. It’s roomy, well-appointed and offers a class-leading safety rating, but it’s also powerful and it handles well.

You May Not Like The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe If...

If you want the most power in the class, the Ford Explorer offers models with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with 385 horsepower. It’ll smoke the Hyundai Santa Fe. Also, there isn’t a hybrid version of the Santa Fe. Those seeking electrification in this class should shop the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

What's New

Fresh off an extensive refresh both inside and out just last year, the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe gets an upgrade to a premium wood interior trim on models with leather seats. Otherwise the 2018 Santa Fe is unchanged.

Interior Features

Two seating configurations are offered in the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe. The standard 2nd-row bench not only reclines, but it’s split 40/20/40 and slides forward to maximize legroom back in the third row. In this configuration the new Santa Fe seats seven. If that’s one too many, two 2nd-row captain’s chairs are available, which are not only more comfortable but they ease access to the Hyundai’s third row. Front-seat comfort is high, and the base model’s stain-resistant cloth fabric feels good. All materials are impressive down to the rubber that lines the inside of the door pulls.

Exterior Features

Last year Hyundai nipped and tucked the exterior of the Santa Fe and the surgery was a success. The SUV rolled out of the design studio with a new 5-bar grille, a more aggressive front end and a shapelier backside. It’s contemporary with strong shoulders, flared fenders and an aggressively canted backlight. Squint and its three-quarter rear view, with its oversized angular tailpipes, is reminiscent of the BMW X5. The base SE model gets the integrated rear spoiler and very attractive 18-inch wheels, while the Limited versions are dressed up with integrated fog lights, roof rails and 19-inch wheels.

Driving Impressions

While Mazda’s CX-9 may have set a new standard for 7-passenger SUV handling, the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV isn’t far from this benchmark. The Santa Fe offers more horsepower than the Mazda and features Drive Mode Select, a 3-position setting that permits the driver to change steering feel and transmission shift points ranging from Economy to Comfort to Sport mode. The Santa Fe’s suspension settings permit confident cornering devoid of excessive sway while simultaneously avoiding too harsh a ride. Interior sound levels are more than acceptable, although we think the Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer do a better job. As for power, the 2018 Santa Fe’s 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 delivers when it counts most, with excellent off-the-line acceleration and ample power for low-speed passing maneuvers. All-wheel drive (AWD) does add more weight and thus a very slight reduction in acceleration times over the front-wheel-drive (FWD) models.

Pricing Notes

A 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe SE comes out of the gate with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of around $32,000 -- a number that is slightly higher than the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder SUV, but slightly less than a similarly equipped Honda Pilot EX. The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited starts near $36,000. If you load up an AWD Santa Fe Ultimate Limited with every option, you'll still find yourself spending less than $45,000. Check out KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price for what shoppers are actually paying for the Santa Fe in your area. It's still a little early to predict the 2018 Santa Fe's resale outlook, but Hyundai SUVs consistently rank well versus their competition, on par with the Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer, better than the GMC Acadia but behind the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander.

Notable Equipment

Santa Fe SE drivers with a long journey ahead will appreciate the multi-adjustable front bucket seats with power-adjustable lumbar support. Passengers farther back will give thanks to the 3rd-row controls for air conditioning and heating. Stepping up to the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited includes luxuries like leather seating -- power-adjustable and heated for the driver and front passenger -- push-button starting and an electroluminescent gauge cluster. The Limited Ultimate adds heated 2nd-row seats, an 8-inch-color navigation touch-screen monitor and Multi-View Monitor. Sweet as ever, Hyundai's confidence-inspiring 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranties cover the new Santa Fe.

Notable Options

Beyond a laundry list of features bundled into trim levels like a heated steering wheel, navigation, Infinity premium audio and 3rd-row USB ports, Hyundai also offers a couple of option packages that contain its tech-based safety systems. For the new Santa Fe SE, the $3,650 Premium package brings blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, a hands-free Smart liftgate and more. The $2,100 Tech package for the SE Ultimate and Limited Ultimate includes Smart Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, lane-departure warning and HID Dynamic Bending Headlights with high-beam assist. All-wheel drive is a stand-alone option on all models for $1,750.

Favorite Features

AUTOMATIC EMERGENCY BRAKING WITH PEDESTRIAN DETECTION
When equipped with this system, the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe is rated a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Within certain parameters, if the system determines a crash is imminent and the driver does not react, it will apply the full force of the SUV’s brakes.

MULTI-VIEW CAMERA SYSTEM
This is a rearview camera on steroids. It uses four cameras mounted all around the Santa Fe’s exterior and provides multiple views around the vehicle including front and side views displayed on the nav screen. There’s even a 360-degree overhead bird’s-eye view of the SUV and its surroundings.

Under the Hood

Hyundai makes it simple to shop for a 7-passenger 2018 Santa Fe SUV by offering only one engine and one transmission. In front-wheel-drive models, the SUV's 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 feels exceedingly powerful, but with good throttle response, smooth pickup and strong acceleration. The heavier all-wheel-drive Santa Fe models, however, could do with some more low-end grunt to get moving. The Hyundai’s 6-speed automatic transmission isn’t exactly state-of-the-art. Most of the Santa Fe’s competitors have transmissions with more gears. Still, it works well enough, providing clean, easy gear changes and prompt downshifts when you need them. . All that said, Hyundai’s 2018 Santa Fe is comfortable towing up to 5,000 pounds of trailer, boat or anything else you'd like to haul.

3.3-liter V6
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
252 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg (FWD), 18/24 mpg (AWD)

Editors' Notes

A midsize 7-passenger SUV, the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe is popular with families because it offers plenty of space, impressive features and a standard 290-horsepower 3.3-liter engine, which is the most powerful naturally aspirated V6 in its class. With a starting price just over $31,000, three rows of seats and the highest possible safety ratings, the new 2018 Santa Fe competes in the crowded midsize SUV segment. Its rivals include the Kia Sorento, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, GMC Acadia, Ford Explorer, Volkswagen Atlas and Chevy Traverse. Four trim levels are available, SE, Limited, SE Ultimate and the top-of-the-line Limited Ultimate, which sounds properly aspirational. All-wheel drive is available on all models for an additional $1,750, and Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty is standard.

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Owner Reviews

4.69

175 Reviews

74% 20% 6% 2 star 0% 1 star 0%

Owner reviews are verified by our team and cannot be altered or removed.

The best feature on the vehicle is the rear camera.

My vehicle is a pearl white which I absolutely love! The vehicle has 4 wheel drive which is amazing. It also has 3 drive modes. It has regular mode for everyday driving, then it has eco mode for long trips then it has my personal favorite it has sports mode it is for the interstate driving. It also features modes that can help with resistance from the motor from going up and down hill, it also has provides some help to avoid to hydroplaning. It has a front and rear wiper blade with is very convenient. My vehicle also features a rear camera which has amazingly clear imaging. The vehicle also has Bluetooth where I can give my car a command and it responds. The makers of Hyundai also have a blue link app that allows you to crank your car wirelessly. You can tell the app how long you want your engine to run, what degrees to place the air on it is amazing. The last feature that I want to talk about is the seat warmer. I love the seat warmers so much, they are very helpful on those cold mornings between the wireless start and the seat warmers you cannot go wrong with this vehicle!

- Marie G

"Hyundai makes good cars!!".

This car is comfortable. That is the number one way to describe it. I am a plus sized woman, yet I fit it the seat, and there is lumbar support. It is a nice looking SUV, black with grey interior, but looks like all the other 2018 SUV models out there. Everyone seems to have the same basic design. It handles well on the road, has excellent safety features, gets an average of 20 mpg gas for in town driving. I rarely take it on highways because there is no need to do that for me. It has all the up to date digital functions, most of which I do not use. Stereo is excellent! I do not like that the seat's forward and back movement is manual, a lever in between my feet at the base of the seat. I did not get any extra features due to cost, and do think the price tag is steep, about $34k, but Hyundai's have a habit of living a long time with few problems. Our last one was 15 years old when traded in on this, engine in excellent condition, but little stuff going bad.

- Virginia W

Handling issues with the Hyundai Santa Fe.

The main problem I have with my Santa Fe is the way it handles in the rain. I had a Santa Fe before this one that got totaled because I hydroplaned on a bridge in the rain, spun around and hit a retaining wall. We could not find the replacement Santa Fe in AWD so we trusted the dealership when they said they had improved that feature. Unfortunately the handling feels the same; you have to accelerate very gradually from a stop or else you will hear the tires peel out. The airflow in the backseat is also a huge complain for my kids in the summertime. It is always hot and they cannot get enough air.

- Alison M