San Francisco: Perception
is an amazing thing. It has a way of clouding our judgment, especially
about cars, so that we see things in a way that doesn't even remotely
match reality. Take Jaguar, for instance. In the mid '90s, Jaguar was
still making cars that were absolute pieces of garbage, with 12-cylinder
engines that leaked more oil than the Exxon Valdez and so many
electrical problems that warning lights on the dash would flash like a
New York City disco. There was no getting around the fact that they were
terrible, terrible cars.
Yet when someone would drive up in one of
these awful Jags, they weren't the least bit embarrassed. That's because
people's perception was totally skewed to see Jag drivers as cool,
sophisticated and wealthy. Never mind the oil slicks and disco lights -
the Jaguar had a high price tag, a yummy body, Connolly leather and a
name that can be pronounced "Jag-you-ahh," so it must be a great car.
Thankfully Ford bought Jaguar and lifted it
out of the quality doldrums, but that wasn't the end of automotive
misconceptions. Oh, no.
Hyundai today suffers from the opposite
problem of Jaguar. Despite making some absolutely amazing cars that
match their Japanese rivals but cost a lot less, people still think
Hyundai is a Korean word for "about to fall apart." And that's just
If you actually test drive one of Hyundai's
newest cars, like the Sonata, you'll see it drives just as nice and
feels just as solid as the Toyota Camry. There's no quality tradeoff.
The Hyundai is just as refined, just as supple, and just as well made as
the Toyota - and owner surveys show their quality is on par with the
Japanese big guns, too.
The Hyundai Santa Fe suffers from this same
stigma. Although it's a wonderful SUV, especially for the money, it
still has a Hyundai badge on the hood, so your uninformed friends will
pity you for having to make due with something cheap and disposable -
even though that's not the case at all
The Santa Fe feels almost on par with more
expensive, mid-size luxury SUVs like the Acura MDX. It's extremely
quiet, very composed on the highway and wonderfully comfortable on the
inside. The biggest difference comes not from the way it drives, but
from little things like cheaper-feeling plastics on the dash. It's
substantially the same as a luxury SUV for a much lower price.
And the pricing really is the story here.
You can get a nice Santa Fe for around $21,000, or a loaded Limited
model for around $27,000.
Even better, the Santa Fe is completely new
for 2007. The biggest difference is in the interior, where a third-row
seat can now be fitted in the back thanks to a little extra room and
extremely efficient use of space. Hyundai brags that the Santa Fe is 2.1
inches shorter than the Lexus RX, yet it still has more head, leg and
shoulder room than the RX and also offers a third-row seat, which the
Lexus does not.
Hyundai also throws out some big names when
comparing its third-row seat legroom to the Acura MDX, Honda Pilot,
Volvo XC 90 and Mercedes-Benz GL. It has more room than the Acura, Honda
and Volvo, and it matches the big Mercedes. That's impressive.
Hyundai accomplished this by building an
all-new platform that it doesn't share with any other vehicles. While
most crossover SUVs have inherent compromises because they must share
the same basic architecture with several other vehicles, Hyundai says
the Santa Fe was designed just to be the Santa Fe, which is why it was
able to maximize interior space. In any case, the Santa Fe is a
fantastic SUV for the money. If only Hyundai's reputation could catch up
Despite its rather humble price, the Hyundai
Santa Fe appears to draw design influence from expensive luxury SUVs
like the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5. It's a good looking vehicle that
drives a lot nicer than its affordable price would suggest.
What was tested? The 2007 Hyundai
Santa Fe Limited with a base price of $25,945. Options: Rear cargo
screen ($100), carpeted floor mats ($95). Price as tested: $26,140.
Why avoid it? Hyundai has the
opposite of brand cachet.
Why buy it? It's a great SUV for the
money. It drives with the kind of poise you'd expect from a luxury car,
has a comfortable interior and efficient use of space lets Hyundai
squeeze in an optional third-row seat in the new 2007 Santa Fe. By
Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Hyundai Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
Column Name: Hyundai may be better than you think
2007 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited
Word Count: 835
Photo Caption: The 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited
Hyundai Internet Media
Series #: 2007 - 06
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2007 Hyundai Santa Fe
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2007 Hyundai Santa Fe