2015 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV Keeps the Safe Pace

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The Hyundai Santa Fe continues to evolve out of necessity. It sits smack in the middle of the hottest and most competitive automotive sales market going today — the small SUV/Crossover segment.

Some would argue those are two separate segments, but the automakers consider the buyers to be much the same. They’re urban dwellers — perhaps starting a family — interested in carrying more payload that their sporty hatchback or sensible sedan is able to handle.

They’re not looking to do much off-roading, and they’d like to maintain some semblance of fuel economy while moving in comfort. It doesn’t hurt if they can hang onto respectable fuel economy as they upgrade their vehicle in size.

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The small SUV meets all of these needs, all while remaining as affordable as the wagons and larger sedans it and its crossover sister slowly replaced in affordable car line.

An all-new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe originally debuted at the 2012 New York Auto Show – a nice looking, promising midsize SUV that made news for its restyling and updated technology. It emerged as a success for the Hyundai line, so the automaker left the vehicle largely intact in the last model year. It remains one of the best looking (and most affordable) small SUVs on the market — battling the Toyota Rav4, the Mazda CX-9, Dodge Durango, Nissan Pathfinder, the Ford Explorer and other entries in the class.

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During a weeklong test drive, I made sure to put the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe through all of the steps the average owner would run it through on a daily basis. That urban theme runs through city, highway and freeway. It’s not a Jeep and isn’t rated for its off-road capability.

The 2015 Santa Fe includes Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, a six-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, Sirius/XM, USB/iPod integration and a 4.3-inch touchscreen display.

Santa Fe shoppers are also looking at a power drivers seat, heated front seats, reclining second-row seat, split-folding third-row seat, a rearview camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, a trip computer, air-conditioning and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The 290 horsepower, V6 engine was more than able to keep the Santa Fe moving during out road test with ample power. And, I was unable to squeeze an advertised MPG of 25 out of the SUV.

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While opting for urban competence over ruggedness, the Santa Fe comes with Hyundai’s adjustable steering settings – Sport, Normal and Comfort modes to tighten up or loosen the response of the wheel in different conditions. The suspension follows that lead.

As mentioned, one of the most appealing aspects of the small SUV is the price tag. By keeping the power trains efficient and the overall size of the vehicle less than the bulkier full size SUV, automakers end up offering a considerable hunk of vehicle — often for less than $30,000. This Santa Fe stays in that game starting at $31,045 and peaking at 37,770.