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Thread: '07 Hyundai Santa Fe - better than "good enough"!

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    '07 Hyundai Santa Fe - better than "good enough"!

    New SUV Review: 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe
    By Eric Peters

    When the Santa Fe crossover SUV first came out, it was a decent (and budget-conscious) alternative to the mainline Japanese models in its segment. It was not glaringly deficient in any area -- and "almost as good" virtually everywhere else. Toss in a better warranty, the several thousand dollars' price difference -- and it was no big sacrifice to go with the Santa Fe over its slightly more refined, better-established (and significantly pricier) competitors.

    Of course, Hyundai has always had its sights set higher than "almost as good" -- and the '07 Santa Fe now competes on more than equal terms with the best vehicles available in its segment.

    It is, to begin with, significantly larger (by about seven inches overall) than the previous version, which provides the extra space needed for third-row, seven passenger seating -- something that wasn't offered before and which gives the new model the additional flexibility needed by larger families. Interior measurements -- front and rear passenger legroom -- are among the best in class at 42.6 inches and 36.8 inches, respectively. The longer wheelbase (106.3 inches for the '07 vs. 103.1 previously) improves both ride and handling, too.

    While the Santa Fe's chassis, bodywork and interior have been completely revamped, smart features like the waist-high (and mounted off to the right) pull-handle opener for the rear liftgate used on the previous model did not get lost in the shuffle. This way of opening the liftgate is natural and ergonomic -- and can be done with one hand holding an armload of groceries (or a small child) with less awkwardness than the conventional, door-handle style openers found on a lot of other SUVs. Inside, there are additional thoughtful features -- such as a slide-out storage cubby built into the back end of the center console, along with a power point for laptops and so on. While Hyundai could have aped the trend that equates complexity with luxury, instead the designers -- to their great credit -- chose to keep the controls for things like the climate control and audio systems just as user-friendly. Immediately comprehensible rotary knobs control the temperature settings, with an upscale looking blue-backlit LCD screen showing where the air is being directed. (There's even blue fiber-optic lighting for the twin cupholders between the driver and front-seat passenger -- so you can see where you're about to put your coffee.)

    The interior layout itself is modern and attractive, with tastefully executed satin aluminum and wood trim. In all, very pleasant -- even luxurious. And surprisingly so, given the '07 Santa Fe's very accessible $20,945 base price. Hyundai appears to have taken a lesson from Lexus -- and like Toyota's now-hugely successful luxury division, makes sure that buyers feel they're getting more than they paid for as soon as they open the door. The materials used for dash and door panels, for instance, have a look and feel that is noticeably higher-end than is typical in lower and mid-priced vehicles. (To get a feel for how nice it is in a new Hyundai, go sit in a new top-of-the-line Lincoln -- or even some Cadillacs -- and check out the difference in materials used.)

    You will be impressed.

    Another area of leap-frog improvement is the Santa Fe's powertrain offerings. Two engines are still available -- but one's been substantially upgraded and the other's entirely new. As before, the base engine is a 2.7 liter V-6, but for 2007, Hyundai has incorporated variable valve timing, bumping up the output by 15 horsepower to 185 vs. 170 previously. The 15 hp uptick was absolutely necessary to maintain the balance between engine output and the increased size/weight of the '07 Santa Fe. The '06 was criticized for being a bit on the sluggish side, so adding bulk without an equivalent increase in power would hot have served the cause. And there's no fuel economy penalty to pay for the added power. The '07 version of the 2.7 liter V-6 actually gets almost exactly the same mileage as the less powerful '06 version -- 19 city/25 highway vs. 20 city/25 highway. Some buyers may also like the 5-speed stick that may be teamed with this engine. It adds an element of fun (and potential fuel economy benefit) that's unavailable with automatic-only crossover/SUVs -- which are the rule rather than the exception.

    That said, buyers considering AWD (base models are front-wheel-drive) or who want extra reserves for passing/pulling a trailer will be even happier about the Santa Fe's entirely new optional engine. The 3.3 liter V-6, though smaller than last year's optional 3.5 liter V-6, is much more powerful -- offering 242 horsepower, which is 42 horsepower more than the old engine could manage. And its fuel efficiency is actually better, despite the bump in output. The new engine is good for 19 city/24 highway vs. 17 city/23 highway previously. A new five-speed automatic is the standard transmission with the 3.3 liter engine -- and here again, Hyundai shows its eagerness to learn from prior experience and make things better with each update. This new transmission has excellent shift characteristics, smooth as well as aggressive when you want it to be. The gate offers manual control of up and downshifts, but the transmission does just fine left in "Drive." It's fun to engage the manual mode, but it's not something you have to do in order to compensate for soft programming such as too-soon upshifts at full throttle.

    in a similar vein, another thing I liked about the '07 is the way the standard electronic stability control has been set up. Test drive different cars each week and you quickly notice how clumsy some ESP systems are -- or perhaps more fairly described, how tough it is for them to compensate smoothly for a vehicle's less-than-balanced handling characteristics. Enter a corner a carrying a bit too much speed, for instance, and the system come frantically alive, with herky-jerky sounds and sensations as the ABS pumps the brakes and the engine controller dials back throttle to keep the lurching mass of the vehicle from barrel-rolling into the woods. Same scenario in the Santa Fe and the intervention of the ESP is much less noticeable -- which, again, is testament to either the way it's been programmed or the much better inherent stability of the new model's chassis and suspension.

    Either way, it's a good thing.

    And should you manage to get in trouble nonetheless, the standard side-impact and full-row curtain air bags (as well as anti-whiplash "active headrests) will hopefully limit any damage to your person or those you're carting along.

    One more good thing -- all Santa Fe's now offer factory XM satellite radio. Hyundai was a little late getting on the satellite radio bandwagon but that's now been taken care of as well. Also, Hyundai will offer DVD-based GPS navigation as optional equipment later in 2007 to complement the available rear-seat entertainment system offered on SE and Limited trim levels.

    In sum, there is next-to-nothing not to like about the '07 Santa Fe relative to any of its competitors. As before, it offers an appealing combination of features and value -- only now you're getting a lot more than "almost as good" for the same or even less of your hard-earned dollars.

    END

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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!

    AND!

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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!

    AND, it's made in ALABAMA. Jobs for Americans!

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!

    Quote Originally Posted by ducky1776
    AND, it's made in ALABAMA. Jobs for Americans!
    Yes, indeed!

    I doubt very much the American workers who are getting a good paycheck from Hyundai (or BMW or Honda or Nissan) consider these "foreign brand" vehicles detrimental to America...

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!

    Quote Originally Posted by ducky1776
    AND!
    Did you notice the Sante Fe has XM? (I have my test vehicle in the driveway rightnow; it's a nice vehicle - even my wife thinks so!)

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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by ducky1776
    AND!
    Did you notice the Sante Fe has XM? (I have my test vehicle in the driveway rightnow; it's a nice vehicle - even my wife thinks so!)
    My '03 has close to 50K on it and has not been back to the dealer for anything! I'd consider that as good as it gets for any vehicle, especially one that is field tested by my wife!
    I added XM radio to the Sienna-- After 2 long trips, I don't think I could ever go on another without that feature!

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!


    My '03 has close to 50K on it and has not been back to the dealer for anything! I'd consider that as good as it gets for any vehicle, especially one that is field tested by my wife!
    I added XM radio to the Sienna-- After 2 long trips, I don't think I could ever go on another without that feature!
    That's about as good as it gets, for sure!

    PS - My wife got me portable Sirius (it can be plugged into any car) and I take it with me everywhere...

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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!

    >>My wife got me portable Sirius (it can be plugged into any car) and I take it with me everywhere... <<

    My XM is portable also, but it stays in the Sienna-- I probably would have gotten a Sirius, but I dislike Howard Stern enough to not want to help pay that egotistical bastard's salary.



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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!

    I wanted Sirius just to get Howard!

    He's obnoxious - but clever and "real" - and I love that he says what he really thinks, without caring about who he offends. (And he hates both The Chimp and Bible beaters - so he can't be all bad, eh?)

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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!

    >>I wanted Sirius just to get Howard!

    He's obnoxious - but clever and "real" - and I love that he says what he really thinks, without caring about who he offends. (And he hates both The Chimp and Bible beaters - so he can't be all bad, eh?) <<

    I agree with all that, but he's very boring also---

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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!

    Yes, I noticed the XM. I called the dealership yesterday and they don't have XM retrofit kits. I'm still trying to figure out how I want to proceed on that. Get a whole new radio, or just the XM transmitter to hook into my current one. I have a portable already, would rather have built in.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!

    Quote Originally Posted by ducky1776
    Yes, I noticed the XM. I called the dealership yesterday and they don't have XM retrofit kits. I'm still trying to figure out how I want to proceed on that. Get a whole new radio, or just the XM transmitter to hook into my current one. I have a portable already, would rather have built in.
    Well, having finally joined the satellite world (my wife got my Sirius for my birthday), I'll add my 50 cents:

    I have the portable unit (it's about the size of a cell phone) that plugs into "stations" that allow the Sirius to play through any car audio system, home stereo or a portable "boom box." For me, this system is ideal - since I am driving a different vehicle every week, sometimes several of them. It's nice to be able to take the unit with you - and to be able to listen in the garage/outdoors by using the boom box.

    Here's something you might consider trying:

    Go to the Hyundai dealer and tell them, first of all, how much you like your new car and how happy you have been with your purchase. Then tell them you really wish you could have gotten satellite radio with the vehicle, but it wasn't available just a few months ago - when you bought the car. But you've learned it's now available, factory-installed, and would REALLY like to have it retrofitted into your car.

    If the dealership is smart, it'll work with you to make it happen. Might not be free, of course - but I think there's a decent chance they'll arrange to changeout your radio to one that's satellite-enabled (or whatever t takes to get the car hooked up) in order to keep you happy.

    It should be possible to just swap out your existing factory audio system for a new one (a factory one that looks "stock") with satellite...

    Keep us posted!


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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!

    The Santa Fe with the big engine and all of the good stuff is a great car - I test drove one about two weeks ago and agree with your conclusions, but ....

    And that is the problem for me, the butt or, better, the thigh support. Jim Rose seems to think its fine as do many others so we'll have to conclude that there is something wrong with my butt.

    That said, they really wanted to sell a car, I sure that i could have driven one home at well below the so-called 'dealer cost.'

    In the past couple of weeks I've looked at several similar and while some 'fit right,' all but one of those which did had crappy power trains or turbos.

    Today I drove home a new RAV4 Ltd 6 cyl AWD -

    There is NO substitute for cubic inches!!!

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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!

    >>There is NO substitute for cubic inches!!!<<

    Rectangular dollars beats cubic inches every time!

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!

    Nothing wrong with your butt! (Uh, that might have sounded weird....)

    We're each different and the way we fit into a given car can ary significantly; I'm glad you found what you need in the RAV!

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    Re: '07 Hyundai Sante Fe - better than "good enough"!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Rose


    Rectangular dollars beats cubic inches every time!
    Wrong! Rectangular dollars buy cubic inches; it all depends on whether you want to go fast of go cheap.

    My 6 cyl cute ute has the best EPA rate gas mileage of all of them, 21~28 I think. But who cares? As long as the gas pump accepts the plastic, I surely don't.

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    Re: '07 Hyundai Santa Fe - better than "good enough"!

    >>Rectangular dollars buy cubic inches; it all depends on whether you want to go fast of go cheap. <<

    You obviously never hung around a bunch of race car drivers--- Rectangular dollars always beats cubic inches----

    Anyway--- All you gotta do is be happy with your whatever-- I took the SanteFe to the mop & slop after getting the oil changed-- It's just like having a new car! ;D

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    Re: '07 Hyundai Santa Fe - better than "good enough"!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Rose
    >>Rectangular dollars buy cubic inches; it all depends on whether you want to go fast of go cheap. <<

    You obviously never hung around a bunch of race car drivers--- Rectangular dollars always beats cubic inches----
    So tell whether a 50 million buck 5 inch motor will beat a 32 Ford flathead; with fixed displacement money matters.

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    Re: '07 Hyundai Santa Fe - better than "good enough"!

    >>So tell whether a 50 million buck 5 inch motor will beat a 32 Ford flathead; with fixed displacement money matters.<<

    But my 50 million will be spent on buying cubic inches---

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    Re: '07 Hyundai Santa Fe - better than "good enough"!

    Eric,

    I did call the dealership last week. Hyundai has not developed/distributed a retrofit package yet. I talked to the parts guy (service guy sent me there). Guess I need to send them an email and whine. Or else maybe set our business reporter on them <g>. Sometimes there's an advantage working for a newspaper.

    duck

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