2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Rating Breakdown
2018 hyundai santa-fe
EPA est City/Hwy
17/22
Starting at
$41,300
Engine
3.3L V6
Power
290 hp

Starting at

$41,300

Engine

3.3L V6

Power

290 hp

City/Hwy

17/22

Seats

6


The Car Connection Expert Review
Marty Padgett

Marty Padgett

Editorial Director

DISLIKES
  • Stiff mileage penalty for AWD
  • Six speeds may be too few
  • Slim third-row space
hyundai santa-fe 2018

Anodyne just happens to be a great word, right?

Hyundai updated the Santa Fe in 2017 with a mild front-end makeover. It’s attractive inside and out, if unadventurous.

It earns a 7 out of 10 on our styling scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Santa Fe glides along in the mainstream without so much as a ripple. The front end wears a six-sided grille that’s some kind of gold standard in the crossover-SUV world. A reshaped front bumper and LED fog lights haven’t hurt its benignly attractive face.

From the side, the Santa Fe’s proportions all but give away the goods. It’s a minivan without sliding side doors, and its tapered roofline and trim glass areas outpoint just about every minivan on the fashion scale, save for the suave Chrysler Pacifica.

The cockpit adopts another SUV gold standard, a shield-shaped control hub flanked by big air vents. It works well with the sheet metal. The dash surface undulates, dipping low in front of passengers and bubbling up for gauges and the center stack, and large knobs control fan speed and audio volume. Some versions get a larger touchscreen and electroluminescent gauges, with no dramatic departure from the crossover median.

Anodyne just happens to be a great word, right?

Performance is reasonable, but more power wouldn’t hurt the Hyundai Santa Fe.

Hyundai fits the Santa Fe with one drivetrain: a 3.3-liter V-6 and a 6-speed automatic. With front- or all-wheel drive, it doles out just enough power to pull a full carload of people and gear.

Ride and handling fare better in comparison, so we give the Santa Fe a 6 out of 10 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The drivetrain’s tuned to deliver more power low in its rev range. Still, acceleration is moderate, mostly because the lightest Santa Fe weighs about 4,000 pounds. Clean, quick shifts are the Santa Fe rule, and its manual-shift mode is somewhat unnecessary, but the gearbox can be caught off-guard when the gas pedal’s mashed.

The Santa Fe can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The Santa Fe’s electric power steering has three selectable modes, from economy to normal to sport. Hyundai’s learning curve in electric steering has been a long one, and the Santa Fe’s no different. It’s not eager to respond off-center, and wanders slightly when tracking down interstates. Switching the steering to Sport adds weight, but helps it keep better in line on highways.

With a front strut and rear multi-link suspension, the Santa Fe makes a good compromise between its calm, quiet ride and rear cargo space (bulky but sophisticated suspension designs in back can eat up room). The Santa Fe’s biggest edge here is its length. The extra wheelbase damps out more of the road’s wrinkles, even when it’s fitted with 19-inch wheels.

Performance is reasonable, but more power wouldn’t hurt the Hyundai Santa Fe.

The Santa Fe is big and comfortable in the overall scheme, but smaller than key competitors.

The Santa Fe is the three-row version of Hyundai’s SUV duo. It’s spacious in its own right, though it’s significantly smaller than rivals like the Honda Pilot.

We give it a 9 out of 10, for all its people and cargo space, and for that versatile third-row configuration. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Hyundai sells this Santa Fe in 6- and 7-passenger form. Either way, it’s 193.1 inches long (8.5 inches longer than the Santa Fe Sport) and rides on a 110.2-inch wheelbase (up 3.9 inches on the Sport).

The front seat illustrates why so many minivan and SUV drivers have moved into crossovers like the Santa Fe. Head and leg room abounds, unless the Santa Fe has the panoramic sunroof included on Ultimate models. Soft cushions and firm bolsters in the front seats match up with ideally positioned headrests–it’s a big deal, if you’ve driven a Ford Flex and found your neck jutting forward.

Between the front passengers the Santa Fe has plenty of cupholders and bins, including one well ahead of the shift lever.

In the second row, the Santa Fe comes configured with a bench or with two captain’s chairs. The longer wheelbase affords it good leg room, and the seats have very good support as well as heating on some models.

It’s the third row where the Santa Fe lags behind its bigger rivals. The seats are small and sit low to the ground. They’re difficult to access, even with the second row moved forward. Knee and head room are scant.

The Santa Fe’s slim cargo space behind the third row is a liability in its class too, at just 13.5 cubic feet. Fold down the third row and the Santa Fe has more than 40 cubic feet of cargo space.

The Santa Fe has a pleasantly trimmed cabin, with woodgrain trim on more expensive models and less rich plastic on lower-priced versions. The V-6 emits just a distant whir, but tire noise intrudes more than it does in the Sport model.

The Santa Fe is big and comfortable in the overall scheme, but smaller than key competitors.

The Santa Fe earns impressive crash test scores, but doesn’t have the latest standard safety feature.

The Hyundai Santa Fe hasn’t seen its crash-test scores updated for 2018 yet, but its 2017 ratings should carry over.

In 2017 the IIHS called it a Top Safety Pick+. It earned "Good" scores in every crash test. At the same time, the NHTSA gave it five stars in every test save for a four-star rollover-resistance rating.

A rearview camera is standard, and surround-view cameras are an option.

On our scale, that’s worth an 8 out of 10. If Hyundai offered forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking on more models, it’d earn a 9. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Santa Fe earns impressive crash test scores, but doesn’t have the latest standard safety feature.


NHTSA 5-Star Safety Rating

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Models

Overall Rating

5/5

Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating: (4/5)
Overall Side Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Barrier Rating: Not Rated
NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating: (4/5)



Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Ratings

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Models

Side Impact Test Good
Roof Strength Test Not Tested
Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint Good
IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results Good
IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results Good

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe reaches into mainstream opulence with touches like ventilated seats and premium audio.

As Hyundai’s biggest SUV, the Santa Fe gets stuffed with the most features, more than the related Santa Fe Sport. It’s sold in base, SE, Limited, and Ultimate trim.

Its standard and optional goodies, as well as its useful infotainment system, earn an 8 out 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Every Santa Fe comes with power features, cruise control, cloth seats, a rearview camera, a power driver seat, dual-zone climate control, AM/FM/XM/CD audio with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen. On base, SE models, 18-inch alloy wheels are standard.

Santa Fe SE SUVs with the Premium add a power passenger seat, keyless ignition, blind-spot monitors, and a hands-free tailgate.

The Santa Fe Limited gains heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, second-row captain's chairs, leather, and electroluminescent gauges.

An Ultimate model has a surround-view camera system, parking sensors, heated and ventilated front seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and 19-inch wheels. It also gets standard forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warnings.

Hyundai doesn’t offer a rear-seat entertainment system. It thinks most buyers have moved on to streaming content to tablets, and we’re inclined to agree.

Hyundai's BlueLink telematics bring in a suite of services such as remote door unlock and start. For 2018, Hyundai adds in three years of free BlueLink service.

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe reaches into mainstream opulence with touches like ventilated seats and premium audio.

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe posts its best fuel economy as a front-driver.

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe posts good fuel economy when it’s configured with front-wheel drive. With all-wheel drive, it’s merely average.

With its standard V-6 and automatic, the front-drive Santa Fe earns EPA ratings of 18 mpg city, 25 highway, 21 combined. Those figures fall to 18/24/20 mpg with all-wheel drive.

On our green scale, those numbers earn a 6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Compared to a Honda Pilot’s 22-mpg combined score, or the Dodge Durango’s 21 mpg, the Santa Fe AWD could use a boost.

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe posts its best fuel economy as a front-driver.


Fuel Economy Information

Ratings Based on 6 cyl, 3.3 L, 6-Speed Shiftable Automatic

19

Combined

5.3 gals/100 miles

17

City


22

Highway

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