2014 Hyundai Santa Fe XL

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe XL

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe XL

 

The Santa Fe XL has 7-passenger seating and can tow up to 5,000 lb.

The Santa Fe XL has 7-passenger seating and can tow up to 5,000 lb.

Bottom Line:  The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe XL impresses with its very supple ride, 7-passenger carrying capacity and jam-packed with features winter-dwelling Canadians will love – heated steering wheel, heated 2nd row seats and 3rd row HVAC controls.  That the long wheelbase Santa Fe is ruggedly handsome is just icing on the cake.

Our trip to Calgary last weekend was a good test of the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe’s capabilities.  We weathered our first snowstorm of the season and – 9 degree Celsius temperatures.  We counted some two dozen vehicles off the highway and buried in ditch, victims of slippery, deep slush conditions on the highway.  But the 2014 Santa Fe charmed us with its heated steering wheel and heated second row (outboard) seats, something our octogenarian passenger enjoyed immensely.

Santa Fe's dash layout is attractive.  The backup camera display is bright and sharp, but too small

Santa Fe’s dash layout is attractive. The backup camera display is bright and sharp, but too small

Santa Fe's instruments are easy to read

Santa Fe’s instruments are easy to read

Steering wheel is heated and is a model for how to design controls that can be operated without studying the owner's manual

Steering wheel is heated and is a model for how to design controls that can be operated without studying the owner’s manual

On the road

Driving the Santa Fe XL is pretty much a hop in and turn-the-key-on proposition.  Hyundai is one of those companies that lays out its interiors and driver controls in an intuitive, easy to understand fashion.  Despite being the top of the line model, the Santa Fe doesn’t have keyless ignition, something I’d expect on this feature-laden CUV.  The 290 horsepower 3.3-litre engine puts out more power than its main competition.  (Toyota Highlander 270 hp; Nissan Pathfinder 260 hp; Honda Pilot 250 hp.)  There’s enough power that the Hyundai never feels strained or underpowered.  Despite being slightly heavier, the 7-passenger Nissan Pathfinder beats the Santa Fe in fuel efficiency (10.6/7/5 L/100 km city/hwy, no doubt aided by the Nissan’s more efficient CVT transmission.)

The Santa Fe’s cabin is very quiet, possibly the best in class.  Road noise is very subdued and wind noise isn’t noticeable.  Sight lines are good but this is a CUV for truck lovers.  (I believe there are two types of people in the world – ‘car’ guys and ‘truck’ guys.)  The ‘truck’ guys will love the Santa Fe.  The vehicle feels heavy and pleasingly sold (despite being lighter than the Highlander, Pathfinder and Pilot.)  So the Santa Fe drives like a truck – solidly – and that’s meant as a compliment.  For those seeking a CUV with superb handling in this segment, check out our class benchmark Mazda CX-9.  Our one complaint about the Santa Fe – the backup camera display (located mid-dash at the top of the centrestack), while bright and sharp, is too small.

Front seats are heated and comfortable; driver's side has adjustable lumbar support

Front seats are heated and comfortable; driver’s side has adjustable lumbar support

Second row outboard seats are heated, and are fore-aft and recline adjustable

Second row outboard seats are heated, and are fore-aft and recline adjustable

Second and third row seating

The Santa Fe’s second row seats are firm and comfortable.  Leg and headroom are generous.  As mentioned earlier, the outboard seats are heated and there are HVAC vents on the B-pillar.  The second row seats can be adjusted fore-aft and are recline adjustable.  Access to the third row is quite easy.  Pull the lever at the side of the 2nd row seat cushion and the seatback flips down; you then have to slide the seat forward.  (The Nissan Pathfinder’s mechanism is better.  Simply pull one lever and the seatback folds down AND the seat slides forward automatically.)  There’s also HVAC controls for the third row.

Fuel consumption

In highway driving (120 km/h, -5 Celsius), the 3.3-litre V6 Santa Fe XL consumed regular unleaded gasoline at a rate of 11.0 L/100 km.  (Natural Resources Canada’s official fuel economy ratings are calculated at a ‘standard’ 20 degrees Celsius and under laboratory conditions.  They’re intended as a tool for comparison shopping, not an indicator of what you’ll get in ‘real world’ driving.)

HVAC vents on B-pillar for second row passengers; third row has HVAC controls too (not shown)

HVAC vents on B-pillar for second row passengers; third row has HVAC controls too (not shown)

Santa Fe has power tailgate.  Third row can be folded easily from rear by pulling nylon straps on 3rd row seatback (not shown)

Santa Fe has power tailgate. Third row can be folded easily from rear by pulling nylon straps on 3rd row seatback (not shown)

Towing

One of the reasons for buying a V6 engine in larger crossovers is their ability to tow.  The Santa Fe XL has a towing capacity rated at 2268 kg (5,000 lb.) which matches the Toyota Highlander and Nissan Pathfinders (both with V6 engines) and a transmission oil cooler and trailer tow wiring is standard equipment.

Who should buy the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe XL?

Hyundai’s carved out significant market share in recent years by building solid, reliable vehicles that are packed with features few others can match at the price.  Besides the heated steering and second row seats, our tester arrived with a 10-speaker Infinity audio system, panoramic sunroof, power tailgate, backup camera, roof rails, windshield wiper de-icer, HID projector beam auto-leveling headlights . . . and the list goes on.  If you’re looking for a 7-passenger CUV with the most number of features for the price, all wrapped in a ruggedly handsome package, the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe XL is a fine choice.  Also, check out the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder, one of CarAndRider’s favourite CUVs this year.  See our review here.

Specs

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe XL
MSRP/Price as-tested $43,199/$43,199
Engine 3.3-litre V6
Power 290 horsepower @ 6400 rpm, 252 lb.-ft. torque @ 5200 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Tires/Wheels P235/55R19
Fuel Economy Rating (L/100km) 11.7 city/8.0 hwy

 

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