The Hyundai Santa Fe has been in the automaker’s lineup for more than a decade, but since 2013 it’s taken on a different mission. The name used to be applied to the five-seat crossover SUV from the Korean automaker—but since the 2013 model year, it’s been affixed to a three-row crossover that shares some body structure, and not much else, with the newly christened five-seat Santa Fe Sport.
As a three-row, seven-passenger SUV, the Santa Fe has its work cut out for it. Its rivals are some of the most popular family vehicles in America—everything from the Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot, to the Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander, and the distantly related Kia Sorento. We’d even suggest a good minivan, like the Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna, as a good alternative.
Hyundai has put a strong emphasis on looks of late, and that goes for the Santa Fe too, which wears the most grown-up and modern sheet metal in the model’s history. The sharp edges and tight creases wrap around it in interesting ways, and Hyundai’s hexagonal grille gets sees its best rendition here, bracketed by headlamps and foglamps. The longer Santa Fe is slightly less distinctive, but as a minivan replacement, it doesn’t need to be flashy. The interior is another bar raised for Hyundai, with some faint GM cues penned in its shield of controls, surrounded by the usual swoops and fluid curves—and trimmed in two-tone materials, an upscale touch that looks better when it’s capped in glossy trim than in faux wood.