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2007 Hyundai Santa Fe Test Drive Review

Hyundai continues building momentum with the redesigned 2007 Santa Fe, a genuinely attractive and roomy midsize crossover SUV.

9 /10
Overall Score

Hyundai got in on the crossover SUV craze early with the original 2001 Santa Fe, a weird and quirky machine that didn’t quite hit the mark. That’s been resolved with the all-new 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe, a great looking and roomy midsize crossover covered by the Korean automaker’s lengthy warranty. The lineup includes GLS, SE, and Limited trim levels, each powered by a V6 engine and featuring front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Look and Feel

9/ 10

As demonstrated by last year’s redesign of the Sonata midsize sedan, Hyundai is getting the hang of styling its vehicles for broad appeal. The new 2007 Santa Fe is good looking from every angle, with pleasing proportions and appealing details. The chunky-spoke 18-inch wheels that come with SE and Limited trim really help in the looks department, too.

Inside, a similar transformation dramatically upgrades the Santa Fe’s sophistication levels. From the organized control layout and tight panel seams to the clarity of the gauges and quality of materials, the redesigned Santa Fe looks and feels terrific—and especially when compared with the vehicle it replaces.

Performance

9/ 10

Hope you like V6 engines, because that’s all Hyundai offers in the 2007 Santa Fe. With GLS trim, a 185-horsepower, 2.7-liter V6 powers the front or all four wheels through a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. Though it’s not dramatically more powerful than some 4-cylinder engines used by competitors, the small V6 engine’s 183 pound-feet of torque help to make the Santa Fe GLS feel responsive when accelerating from a stop.

Choose SE or Limited trim and the Santa Fe features a stronger 242-hp 3.3-liter V6 engine. It comes only with an automatic, in this case, a 5-speed unit. Front-wheel drive is standard with AWD available as an option.

Especially with SE and Limited trim, the Santa Fe is fairly enjoyable to drive. The larger V6 offers good acceleration, the more sophisticated 5-speed automatic transmission offers a manual-shift function that provides greater control over the powertrain, and these versions also include larger 18-inch wheels and tires for improved handling at some expense to ride quality.

Form and Function

8/ 10

Seating for five people is standard, and the 2007 Santa Fe offers an optional third-row seat. Though the SUV is larger than the model it replaces, the third-row seat is suitable only for children.

Used as a 5-passenger conveyance, the Santa Fe satisfies. Cloth seats are standard with GLS and SE trim, while the Limited includes leather, an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and heated front seats. Regardless of the trim level, the Santa Fe’s front seats supply a good view out but may feel too small to larger people. The backseat provides generous legroom, and the wider cabin accommodates three-across seating for smaller adults or children.

Storage space is bountiful, including a sizable center console bin and tray as well as large door panel bins. Cargo space measures 34.2 cubic feet behind the second-row seat, which is plenty for a typical family. The maximum capacity with the rear seat folded down amounts to 78.2 cubic feet. Towing capacity isn’t great, though, limited to 1,650 pounds.

Tech Level

8/ 10

Hyundai equips each 2007 Santa Fe with a CD and MP3 player, remote keyless entry, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Automatic headlights and a trip computer come in SE trim, while the Limited equips the SUV with dual-zone automatic climate control with an air-filtration system, a programmable garage door opener, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and heated windshield-wiper rests to prevent the blades from freezing to the windshield in the winter.

Options include a premium sound system, a 6-disc CD changer, a navigation system, and a rear-seat entertainment system with a DVD player.

Safety

10/ 10

Every 2007 Santa Fe features six airbags: dual front, dual front side-impact, and a set of side curtain airbags that protect the front and second-row occupants. Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are also standard, along with stability control to help a driver recover from a slide or a skid.

As should be expected from a clean-sheet redesign, the 2007 Santa Fe earns a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In testing conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Santa Fe gets 5-star ratings for all crashworthiness assessments, plus 4-star ratings for rollover resistance with both front-wheel and all-wheel drive.

In short, this is an exceptionally safe family-sized SUV.

Cost-Effectiveness

10/ 10

Santa Fe pricing ranges from $21,615 for a GLS with front-drive to $28,615 for a Limited with AWD. Given what some automakers are charging for smaller vehicles, this represents a bargain—especially when you factor in Hyundai’s exceptional standard and powertrain warranty protection and this SUV’s outstanding crash-test ratings.

Regardless of drivetrain choice, a 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe is expected to return between 19 mpg and 21 mpg in combined driving. Given that the smaller V6 only saves big money on initial cost, we think spending the $2,700 extra to upgrade to the more powerful and better equipped SE trim level is worth the money.

But even if you disagree, any Santa Fe is worth the money. Especially given its size and available third-row seat, this SUV is a genuine bargain.

Updated by Christian Wardlaw

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