The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe is a carryover from last year, so there are no major changes. The only big news is on the connectivity front with Blue Link-equipped models now including standard services free for three years. There might not be much new this year, but don’t count the Santa Fe out. There are plenty of reasons to put this car on your test drive list if you’re looking for a compact, three-row SUV.
The Santa Fe stands out from the pack by offering a third row without growing cumbersome in size. This is a third-row vehicle that’s still easy to manage on narrow city streets. It’s not a roomy third row, but that’s fine. Most of us only use that in a pinch for adults. Otherwise, the third row is where the kids sit and they’ll have plenty of room.
The second row is a 40/20/40 split-folding bench seat in all but the top Limited Ultimate trim, which gets a set of captain’s chairs. There’s 13.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, 40.9 cubic feet behind the second row, and 80.0 cubic feet behind the third row. The Santa Fe offers the flexibility to haul the kids all week and then easily converts to an ample cargo carrier for weekend projects. It can even tow up to 5,000 pounds properly equipped.
Power comes from a 3.3-liter V6 engine with 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. This is paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission that is generally smooth, but has the occasional rough shift when you hit the gas pedal hard. Otherwise, it’s a pleasant and responsive drive that won’t leave you struggling to get up to speed.
You can tinker with the ride a bit with Drive Mode Select. It offers economy, normal, and sport modes that alter the steering and shift points. Changes aren’t dramatic, but you’ll get better, tighter steering in sport and a slightly more responsive engine.
The ride is comfortable with a solid suspension system that evens out the bumps and dips. Even rough pavement and a rutted dirt road where impressively smooth and not jarring to passengers who are the focus in the Santa Fe. Our tester was the 2018 Santa Fe Limited Ultimate with all-wheel drive. It was loaded with comfort and convenience features that passengers will love.
Standard on this trim is an 8-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s a hands-free liftgate, heated and ventilated leather front seats, and a heated steering wheel and second row. A panoramic sunroof makes the Santa Fe feel open and bigger than it is, especially for third-row passengers who also get their own USB outlet. There’s also dual-zone climate control and an Infinity premium audio system.
Exterior features include 19-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, LED daytime running lights, headlight accents, fog lights and tail lights, heated power side mirrors, and premium door trims. The Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Ultimate has all these features at a starting price of $39,550 when similarly equipped competitors will have you paying thousands more. If you’re more budget minded, then the base SE comes in at $30,850. That’s a fantastic price point for a three-row SUV.
The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe offers ample features and flexibility for those in need of three rows. It keeps pricing low for frugal buyers while still offering a top trim with a dose of luxury without the luxury price tag.