Koreas Hyundai has entered the sport utility market with its new Santa Fe.
Recognizing an uphill battle to be competitive in this already crowded market segment,
Hyundai is offering an SUV with many premium features at a very affordable price. For
starters, the styling has an upscale, yet aggressive look, than many will mistake for a
luxury SUV if they dont look closely at the Hyundai emblems. As the name might
imply, the Santa Fe was designed specifically for sale in North America.
The Santa Fe is available in several versions and with either two-or four-wheel drive.
These include GL, GLS and LX. Two engines are available, a four-cylinder only in the base
GL 2WD and a V6 in all other 2WD and 4WD models. The 2.4 liter, four-cylinder produces
only 149-horsepower at 5500 rpm and 156 ft-lb of torque at 3000 rpm. This engine is really
not sufficient for a vehicle that approaches the two-ton mark especially with the optional
automatic transmission. The GL 2WD is the only Santa Fe available with a five-speed manual
transmission. The 2.7 liter V6 is a dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) design with 24
valves and is rated at 181 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 177 ft-lb at 4000 rpm.
The V6 provides adequate, but not breathtaking performance. All V6 Santa Fes use a
four-speed electronically controlled Shiftronic automatic transmission that is of the type
used in much more expensive vehicles, and can be used in a clutchless manual mode.
The EPA numbers are:
V-6 Cylinder Engine:
The full tank holds 17.2 gallons. The very close fuel economy for the four-cylinder and
V6 with the automatic transmission points out the false economy of choosing too small an
engine in a particular vehicle.
In keeping with the goal of offering premium features for a low price, all Santa Fes
come rather well equipped. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, power windows,
16-inch alloy wheels, 225/70R-16 BF Goodrich Long Trail T/A tires, a roof rack, privacy
glass, premium-quality cloth seats, and an AM/FM/CD stereo. With the GLS you get an
AM/FM/Cassette/CD stereo, power door locks, remote keyless entry and alarm, fog lights,
cruise control, and heated power exterior mirrors. The top-of-the-line LX features leather
upholstery, a limited-slip differential and chrome door handles. Anti-lock braking and
traction control is an $890 option. Also in "going first class", Hyundai turned
to recognized 4WD experts, Steyr-Puch in Austria, for the full-time four-wheel-drive
system. Like many SUVs that are not meant for serious off-road duty, there is no low range
in the transfer case.
The Santa Fe has a more-expensive-than-it-is feel and high quality materials are used
throughout. Ride is very car-like because the Santa Fe shares mechanics with the Hyundai
Sonata sedans. Handling is good, though the steering is a bit heavy and sluggish feeling.
Wind noise was low, but the tires were on the noisy side. The instrument panel and
controls are especially noteworthy with all but the somewhat tiny radio controls being too
small for an SUV.
In good SUV fashion, visibility is great and the mirrors are very good. You get the
impression that you are behind the wheel of a luxury SUV, rather than one whose base price
starts at $16,934, and even a loaded Santa Fe will come in at under $23,000. There are
nice touches in all versions like floor and overhead consoles, tilt steering wheel,
ignition key on the dashboard and three power outlets. All Santa Fes will carry four
passengers in comfort, and five people for short distances.
If the experience with other Hyundais holds true, the Santa Fe may depreciate
faster than SUVs of other brands because of the Hyundais less than stellar
repudiation. In all fairness, part of the reliability problem came because their low price
brought buyers who could barely make the monthly payment, let alone afford preventative
maintenance. If they lavished the attention Corvette and Mustang owners give their
investments, it probably would be a different outcome. Helping here is Hyundais
outstanding warranty policy. The Santa Fe comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain
warranty in addition a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. There also is
roadside assistance for five years. And this is a "Best in the Industry"
Warranty. By Bill Siuru and Andrea Stewart © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Hyundai Home Page
Byline: By Bill Siuru and Andrea Stewart © AutoWire.Net -
Column Name: "Built in Korea for North America"
Topic: 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe
Word Count: 794
Photo Caption: 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe
Photo Credits: Hyundai Internet Media
Series #: 2001 - 17
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