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HYUNDAI SANTA FE
Comfortably straddling two segments.

Once Hyundai’s only sport-utility vehicle, the Santa Fe is now but one member of its company’s constantly expanding model line. Slotting between the Tucson and the Veracruz SUVs in size and price, the Santa Fe might seem a bit redundant, but it’s also an extra choice that might mark a sweet spot for certain shoppers.

Like its siblings, the Santa Fe is a “crossover” based on a sedan (the Sonata, in this case). It comes in either front- or all-wheel-drive and offers two engines: an adequate-performing 185-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 shared with the Tucson, and a strong 242-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 shared with the Veracruz. (The latter is the better choice, partly because of the 5-speed automatic transmission and grippier tires that come with it.) The Santa Fe’s road manners should be familiar to recent Hyundai owners, with numb, easy steering and a ride that’s soft and comfortable (but sometimes too bouncy).

Inside, the Santa Fe leans more towards the Veracruz, having a well-decorated interior with attractive colors and substantial materials. It also offers the option of a third-row seat (for kids only), a feature lacking in some larger SUVs. The Santa Fe’s first two rows of seats have been deemed comfortable, and its 78 cubic feet of max cargo room fits nicely between the Tucson’s 66 and the Veracruz’s 87.

In the Hyundai tradition, the Santa Fe has a price on the low side, right on level with smaller SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue. Those models are more satisfying to drive, but if you like having a little more room and a little more engine, the Santa Fe might be what you’re looking for.

What’s new for the 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe: Redesigned; new model.
What’s new for the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe: The middle-range SE trim line gets better seat cloth, while the upscale Limited trim line gains a new Infinity Logic 7 sound system and power sunroof, plus the new option of a navigation system.