The 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe has a lot going for it, including a long list of standard features, an attractive cabin, a comfortable ride, excellent crash test ratings, decent fuel economy and affordable pricing.
Smart buyers who recognized several years ago that Hyundai was producing very well-built vehicles at competitive prices also noticed that the Santa Fe had some very appealing advantages over its better-known rivals. And the new 2010 model, with several additional improvements, has added considerably to that appeal.
New for 2010 are two new engines and 6-speed transmissions that deliver both improved performance and better gas mileage. And in addition to some exterior styling tweaks, including a new grille and headlights, new standard features for all Santa Fe models now also include steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, hands-free Bluetooth cell phone connectivity and a USB audio input jack. What's more, the side curtain airbags now integrate a rollover sensor.
Finally, as if something had to give, the optional third-row seat has been discontinued.
While the refreshed exterior may be the most apparent change, the new engine changes are actually much more significant. The standard base engine is now a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 175 horsepower, replacing last year's larger 185 horsepower 2.7-liter V6. Paired with the new 6-speed automatic transmission, it provides both quicker acceleration and improved fuel efficiency at the same time. Also new is an optional 3.5-liter V6 that's good for 276 horsepower. Again, it ups the ante in terms of both performance and fuel economy over the previous 3.3-liter V6.
Despite the 2010 Santa Fe's compelling attributes, there are worthy alternatives as well. Those who value a sportier drive may want to consider the Nissan Murano or Mazda CX-7, while those who really need the third-row may want to look at 7-passenger crossovers like the Chevy Traverse or the Honda Pilot.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe is classified as a midsize crossover SUV and is available in three trims: GLS, SE and Limited.
Standard features on the already fairly well-equipped base GLS include full power accessories, cruise control, air conditioning, heated side mirrors, 17 inch alloy wheels, 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks, rear privacy glass, a trip computer and a 6-speaker stereo system with a CD player, satellite radio and auxiliary audio and USB jacks.
The sporty SE comes with all of the above, plus a power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering-wheel and shift knob, foglamps, 18 inch alloy wheels, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass, automatic headlights, cloth upholstery with leather inserts, a rear spoiler and a roof rack.
The top-of-the-line Santa Fe Limited adds leather upholstery, a sunroof, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and an Infinity audio system with a 6-disc CD changer.
In terms of optional features, the Limited's audio system and sunroof are available on the GLS and SE, while heated front seats are also available on the SE. A navigation system with a rearview camera is also an available optiion.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
The standard engine for the 2010 Santa Fe GLS and Limited is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that generates 175 horsepower and 169 pound-feet of torque. In the GLS, it's paired with a new 6-speed manual transmission or an optional new 6-speed automatic. The 6-speed automatic is standard in the Limited, while all-wheel drive is optional on all models.
The EPA-estimated gas mileage ratings for the four-cylinder range from a quite respectable 19 mpg city and 26 mpg on the highway for front-wheel-drive models with the manual transmission, to 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway for all-wheel-drive models equipped with the 6-speed automatic.
The V6 engine, standard on the SE and optional on the Limited, is a 3.5-liter that's good for 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. The 6-speed automatic transmission is the only one available with the V6. The V6's gas mileage ratings are nearly as good as the four-cylinder's, coming in at 20 mpg city and 26 mpg on the highway.
Standard safety features for all 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe models include antilock disc brakes (ABS), stability control, active front head restraints, front side-impact airbags and rollover-sensing side curtain airbags.
In government crash tests, the 2010 Santa Fe swept all categories with perfect five-star ratings for both frontal and side impact protection.
Like other recent Hyundai models, the Santa Fe's interior delivers more than expected from a midsize SUV in this price range. The cabin is attractive, well designed and user friendly. Well-constructed and consisting of higher quality materials, the overall look and feel is definitely upscale, particularly so with the Limited. The availability of higher-end standard features and options lends to this uplevel ambience.
Seating is comfortable and supportive, while another strong attribute of the new Santa Fe is its above-average passenger comfort-level in the rear. And cargo capacity is also attractive, coming in at 78 cubic feet when the 60/40-split rear seatbacks are folded flat (even with the floor).
The overall driving quality of the 2010 Santa Fe is solid and predictable. There's really nothing exciting about the performance. It just gets the job done comfortably and competently. The ride can be a bit rougher, however, with models equipped with the 18 inch wheels as they don't absorb the bumpiness of harsher roads as well.
Due to the impressive fuel economy of the new V6 engine, it may be the best choice, if it fits in the budget, due to the additional power gained at a negligible sacrifice to fuel efficiency.
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