Modern Motoring: Reviewing the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe XL

Hyundai’s largest offering, the Santa Fe, sees a mid-cycle refresh for the 2017 model year. 
With the Santa Fe roster, you get the five-seater offering via the Santa Fe Sport and the larger six or seven seater option in the Santa Fe XL. For this review, we’ll be evaluating the six-seater, Limited trim as that’s what we drove for a week in July. A very hot week in July…good thing we had cooled seats!

So, what’s new with the 2017 Santa Fe XL? Plenty of exterior changes, including new headlights, grille, taillights, standard LED running lamps and wheel designs. It’s still easily identifiable as an SUV and this round of changes lets Hyundai put some tweaks on the 2016 offering without a complete makeover. There are new items on the inside, which we’ll get to shortly, and there’s also a new trim level, Ultimate, which as you can imagine, has everything possible under the sun jammed into it. Hyundai uses the term “Bold “Fluidic Sculpture” styling” to describe their design work.  Me? I’ll simplify it and say that it definitely looks good for a larger vehicle.

There’s one engine that moves the Santa Fe XL and it’s a carryover from the outgoing model. The 3.3L V6 Lambada II motor still produces a healthy 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft. of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission. Oh, and if you’re looking to haul boats, trailers, etc, you can tow up to 5,000 lbs.
Drive quality is good considering the class of vehicle - you won’t beat anyone off the line and don’t go taking turns at a high speed. What the Santa Fe does do well is offer a comfortable ride, good pick up and an overall great driving experience. 
Drivers can select from Normal, Eco and Sport for their preferred settings. As I’m a gas miser, most of my time was spent in Eco, which did me just fine for mostly city driving.
Fuel economy for my Limited AWD tester rates at 13.9/10.8/12.5 for L/100km via the 71 L tank of regular fuel. 
Except for the base model, all Santa Fe offerings come with All Wheel Drive, which features Active Cornering Control for better stability. 

Inside my six-seater tester, you’ll find a new centre console with a standard 5.0” LCD touchscreen. There’s also an option on higher trims for a larger 8” with navigation, which is what I was equipped with. Personally, I’d like to see the 8” screen come standard across the board as they do with the backup camera and heated front seats. 
There’s a healthy mix of buttons and dials to complement the touch-screen which results in nearly no guesswork (unlike the Buick Encore with more than 40 buttons!) in operating the audio/HVAC controls. 
The overall feel of the cabin is function over fashion, which I applaud. Yes, there’s a nice wood trim available but there could be a bit more use of soft-touch materials. The dashboard is well laid out with two large dials framing a smaller digital screen giving you relevant driving information. 
Seating is comfortable and there’s enough thigh support to keep you from sliding during turns. The rear captain’s chairs in my tester were also comfortable and adjustable so you can do long road trips without your passengers complaining that they’re cramped. The rear two seats, well, reserve those for folks with shorter legs. Not a shot against Hyundai…in any vehicle with a third row of seats, there’s simply not enough space for the long-legged. Cargo space behind the third row of seats is 382 L, behind the second row is 1,158 L and behind the front seats, a whopping 2,265 litres. Standard safety features include Blind Spot Warning, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alerts.

Hyundai continues their trend of creating great vehicles at an affordable price. I still chuckle at their commercial where they take light shots at the German, Japanese and American automakers. If you’re looking at the Santa Fe, your trim models are Base, Premium, Luxury, Limited and Ultimate. Pricing starts in the low $30K mark for the Base Front Wheel Drive and climbs up to the high $40K mark for the Ultimate offering. 

I’m happy Hyundai got rid of the cumbersome Vera Cruz a few years ago and expanded their Santa Fe offerings to include five, six and seven seater options. The changes included in the 2017 offering are enough to keep shoppers interested and with stiff competition, Hyundai’s efforts to remain competitive still come through with the 2017 Santa Fe XL.

Enjoy the full gallery below: