2007 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited

2007 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited
Short Take Road Test

Hyundai's modest Santa Fe sport-ute is seven years old, and it's experiencing a growth spurt. The new-for-2007 SUV is 3.2 inches longer between the wheels - now 106.3 - and has been stretched almost seven inches from nose to tail, up to 184.1. So, although it used to belong in the compact-SUV class, the new Santa Fe is about as big as the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. Those larger outside dimensions pay dividends inside. Interior volume is way up over the previous Santa Fe's; it now has a cavernous 59 cubic feet in front and 49 in the back seat (versus 54 and 47, respectively). Plus, there are 34 cubic feet of cargo space behind the seats (up from 31). That tail-end space can also now accommodate a pair of flat-folding third-row seats, available as part of the $1200 to $1250 (depending on trim level) Touring package. The interior has a clean, tight-fitting finish, although it's a bit bland for our taste.

The base Santa Fe GLS comes with a 2.7-liter V-6 that makes 185 horsepower. It hooks up to a five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic that adds $1200 to the tab. The SE and Limited models get the all-aluminum 3.3-liter V-6 and five-speed automatic first seen in the Sonata. In this application, the 3.3 makes a healthy 242 horsepower and 226 pound-feet of torque.

Driving the new Santa Fe is a pleasure. The interior of the front-drive $26,595 Limited model that we tested was well isolated from outside intrusions. At 70 mph, road noise was just 69 decibels. And although the soft-riding suspension absorbs bumps well, the Santa Fe leans excessively midcorner. That certainly played a part in its merely adequate 0.75 g on the skidpad.

The engine is Toyota smooth and has a broad power band, although we expected slightly better results from the 3.3-liter than 8.0 seconds to 60 and 16.4 seconds at 87 mph for the quarter-mile.

Every Santa Fe model comes standard with six airbags and stability control, as well as niceties such as keyless entry and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player and MP3 capability. The starting price of a GLS model is $21,595, and that's within $700 of the four-cylinder RAV4's base price of $20,905. Our Limited tester included heated front seats upholstered in leather and automatic climate control - not bad for less than 27 grand. All-wheel drive is optional for $2000 across the line.

For an SUV that costs well under 30 grand, you get a lot here: a roomy interior, decent feature content, reasonable refinement, and V-6 power. The Santa Fe is definitely worth checking out.