What is it? The three-row Sante Fe joins the five-passenger Sante Fe Sport, effectively filling the spot in the product line vacated by the Veracruz. With seating for six or seven, depending on seat configuration, the Sante Fe will offer an alternative to the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander.
It is powered by the same 290-hp 3.3-liter V6 found in the Azera sedan, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and it boasts a 5,000-lb. tow capacity. That power should be noticeable, as this large Sante Fe is 320 pounds lighter than the Veracruz. When not seeking maximum performance, there is an eco mode that promises to make a 5-7 percent fuel economy improvement.
The two seating configurations include a choice for second-row captain’s chairs. Sitting in what is traditionally the best seat in the house, the driver benefits from a steering wheel whose characteristics can be dialed in via three modes: Comfort, Normal, and Sport. These modes adjust resistance and on-center feel.
What’s new or notable? The nicely laid out dashboard features bright and crisp electroluminescent gauge displays and a sharp-looking navigation screen.
CR’s take: Hyundai again packs a lot of features for the money, and the company’s recent emphasis on improved fuel economy is now part of the equation. The sweeping sheetmetal of the new design comes at the expense of rearward visibility.
When will it be available? January 2013.