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Average User Score
4.8 ⁄ 5 stars
Based on 5 reviews
2011 Hyundai Santa Fe Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 5 reviews
Ignore the Santa Fe at your own peril – it’s a formidable but seemingly invisible entry in the compact crossover class. Not that Hyundai seems to be doing much to combat that issue, hampering the appeal of the Santa Fe with styling that seems to remain five years behind. Still, with aggressively competitive pricing, a long and impressive list of standard features, class-leading space and the best warranty in the industry, there’s a lot of room for forgiveness.
Not much changes for the Santa Fe in 2011, but not much needs changing. Set aside styling woes for a while. After all, if fashion is your main concern, this isn’t the class you should be shopping. The major complaints with the Santa Fe revolve around the ride and steering – neither of which received any attention. Rather, Hyundai decided to make the 605-watt, 10-speaker Infinity stereo standard in the Limited trim while removing the navigation system and rear-view camera as options for the base GLS. Perhaps to make up for that deletion, the larger 3.5-liter V6 is now an option for the GLS, a practice I wish more manufacturers would follow. You’ll also get the option of five new colors for the Santa Fe: Moonstone Silver, Frost White Pearl, Sonoran Red, Mineral Gray and Espresso Brown.
Otherwise it’s the same nearly invisible vehicle you’ve probably missed out on the roads. It’s worth a look. One of the more affordable entries in the segment, the base GLS is extremely well-appointed with its 175-hp, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed manual transmission. The 2.4 is the Theta II all-aluminum mill that we’ve seen doing duty in the Sonata and Tuscon, as well as in many Kia applications. More important than the 175-hp figure is the 169 lb-ft of torque available at 3,750 rpm. It’s a big part of what makes this smaller engine more than adequate both around town and on the highway, although the 6-speed manual is a better choice here than the optional automatic, which has a noted reluctance to downshift. Regardless, the 2.4 manages a 19 mpg city/26 highway rating with the manual and will go as high as 20/28 with FWD and the automatic transmission.
Further confounding its “base” label, the GLS comes standard with features like heated power mirrors, 17-inch alloy rims, cruise control, air conditioning, Bluetooth, privacy glass, USB, iPod interface, satellite radio and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel. Moving up to the SE trim gets you 18-inch alloys, a power driver's seat, leather/cloth combo upholstery, automatic headlights, foglights, windshield wiper de-icers and the 3.5-liter Lambda V – an engine that offers more than 100 extra hp and nearly identical fuel economy ratings. With the Limited trim, you’ll add a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate controls, leather upholstery and heated front seats, and you’re still well under the competition with regard to pricing.
With a list of standard features like this, not to mention class-leading storage of 78 cubic feet, it only emphasizes how boring the styling of the Santa Fe really is. A bit of attention to design, and maybe a little suspension tuning, and it could be a winner. However, sandwiched between the Tuscon and the Veracruz, it’s likely the Santa Fe will simply fade further into the background and eventually into oblivion.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.
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