Car Review: Hyundai offers ‘value buy’ with 2017 Santa Fe Limited Ultimate

WTOP car guy Mike Parris says the Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Ultimate has lots of luxury for a seven-seat crossover.

WASHINGTON — Looking for a value in the seven-seat crossover market? The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe fits the bill.

You have many choices with price and size within the midsize crossover class. But value for your buying dollar seems to be harder to come by lately. If you want all the bells and whistles in your next 6- to 7-seat crossover, you can easily spend close to $50,000. Luckily, Hyundai is also in the market and offers a competitive crossover for less than some others.

If you’re looking for a three-row crossover, space is likely a factor in the search. For most people, the interior space will please; only the Traverse and maybe the Pilot offer more space, but the Santa Fe seems equal to the others. I spent a week with the top-of-the-line Limited Ultimate that trades the second row bench for two Captain’s chairs, allowing seats for six.

The price for this model is slightly under $40,000; even with all the options $43,000 is about as far as it goes for the FWD version. For that price, you get leather seats, shifter and steering wheel. The front seats are heated and ventilated and offer good comfort. The dash is pleasant to look at with easy-to-reach controls, but the lighter color reflects on the windshield sometimes; stick with darker colors for the dash. Second row passengers have heated seats that slide and recline for added comfort. The third row is usable though not the largest in class, but there is a USB port and controls for the climate control. A large panoramic roof is standard and so is the hands-free power lift gate. The rear cargo area is adequate but smaller than the Chevy.

New for 2017, the Santa Fe gets an updated look with refreshed front end that gives it a more rounded, soft look. There is a new five-bar grill that’s front and center; still, it’s tasteful. The light clusters are sleeker and smaller than before with LED lighting. The fog lights are now vertical and add more appeal to the front end.

Choosing the Limited Ultimate trim package also adds large 19-inch wheels that look high-dollar when matched with the Storm Blue paint. There are just enough brighter trim pieces surrounding the side windows, door handles and along the bottom of the doors without being overwhelming. The rear end styling is different — resembling SUV styling a little more and moving away from the minivan-lite look of the previous model. The lower bumper area seems squarer with a trailer hitch cover, as some Santa Fe models can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The Santa Fe packs a nice punch with a 290 horsepower V-6 engine and it sounds pretty good when you push it. Usually, it’s a very quiet engine. I had no problem keeping up with traffic, but the smooth six speed automatic tends to want to shift up quickly for fuel economy. The FWD version of the Santa Fe is rated 20 mpg in mixed driving, and I managed 22 mpg in my week of driving. The cabin is hushed on the highway with most noises kept out; it’s pretty impressive.

The ride might be a bit harsher with those larger wheels but only bigger bumps really seem to upset the ride. Handling is about normal for this class. Don’t look for anything sporty; there is a little lean in some turns. But in normal driving, it gets the job done and is easy to maneuver in tight spaces thanks to a multi-view camera. Smart Cruise Control with stop/start function is available for 2017 as well as an auto emergency braking and lane departure warning, available with the Ultimate Tech package. It’s nice to see some added safety features.

The Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Ultimate isn’t the shortest name in the class but it is a solid three-row crossover. In one of the hottest segments, there’s still a value buy with all the luxury and without the huge price tag. Hyundai still offers one of the better warranties, so this value buy comes with peace of mind for years to come.

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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