Wait. Before you say, “she has got to be kidding”, let me introduce you to the latest crossover vehicle with off-road and towing capability. Readers, meet the new, longer Santa Fe with all-wheel drive, three-row seating and increased tow capacity.
No, it will not replace your heavy duty, or even your 1500 level truck, but it is a good looking and functional addition to the crossover market. Something which Hyundai has never really had before.
How serious is Hyundai about the outdoor lifestyle? They were the sponsor of the Houston International Boat, Sport and Travel Show last month, and it makes sense. The five-passenger and seven-passenger versions of this replacement for the Vera Cruz can be equipped with active cornering control, all-wheel drive and a locking center differential for enhanced traction, safety an driving confidence on multiple terrains.
The three-row version has a standard 3.3L V6 and is the first Hyundai model ever with a 5,000 lb. tow capacity. (The all-wheel drive version of the Vera Cruz maxed out at 3,500 lbs.) This makes the Santa Fe highly competitive with other manufacturer’s vehicles, including the Toyota Highlander (5,000 lbs.), Honda Pilot (2,000 lbs.), Nissan Pathfinder (5,000 lbs.), as well as other models from Land Rover, Ford, GM, and Chrysler. An integrated bumper cutout for a tow hitch on the new Santa Fe attests to its new capabilities.
The engine is the Lambda 3.3L first introduced on Hyundai’s lush Azera sedan, an instant favorite in its class. It has a high-pressure direct injection system (more than 2,200 psi) that increases power and torque while reducing fuel consumption and emissions. The design and engineering are tuned in such a way that a large displacement engine is not necessary; it also has an increased compression rati9o for greater thermal efficiency and output.
It is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with a Shiftronic manual control for smooth shifting and a wide ratio spread suited to the engine’s characteristics. The optional active cornering control all-wheel drive is a good match for driving in off-road conditions or towing. It can anticipate traction requirements and deliver additional stability through braking via continuous monitoring of driving conditions; most AWD systems are designed to react to conditions after they occur.
Other advantages include improved lateral stability while cornering, removal of unintended over- or under-steelo by reducing unwanted tracti9on to front and rear axle, and high thermal capacity to prevent overheating during hill climbs and trailer towing. All of the components, I am told, are optimally-sized for minimal energy use.
There is also Hillstart Assist control and downhill brake control through which you can manage the wheel speed sensors, steering angle sensor and acceleration sensor to main control and speed on steep declines without having to use the brake.
The new Santa Fe(s) have MacPherson strut front suspension and fully independent multi-link rear suspension. The frpont suspension on front wheel drive models has a 26mm solid stabilizer bar while all-wheel drive models have a 19mm solid stabilizer bar. There is a choice of 18-inch or 19-inch wheels on the larger model.
Other features that Hyundai says emphasize their value propostion:
- Driver selectable mode — comfort, normal and sport — to adapt to a variety of driving styles and road conditions
- New exterior design for a desirable aesthetic
- Seven standard airbags
- Power driver and front passenger seats
- Seven-passenger seating with 40:20:40 split folding second row bench seat, or six-passenger seating with second row captain’s chairs
- Sliding and reclining second row seating with cargo release and 50:50 flat folding third row seating
- Standard Blue Link safety, service and infotainment system
- Third-generation navigation and audio systems with available eight-inch display screen
- Storage capability throughout, including a generous under-floor
- Dual-zone climate control and clean air ionizer
- Power liftgate
I look forward to a road trip when this new addition is in the media fleet sometime in the second quarter. More behind-the-wheel observations then.