- Competes with: Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota RAV4
- Looks like: Hyundai didn’t need an auto show to introduce this
- Drivetrain: 175-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder with six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, or 276-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 with six-speed automatic
- Hits dealerships: Out now
Little has changed visually for the Santa Fe, a crossover tucked in Hyundai’s lineup between the pint-sized Tucson and the three-row Veracruz. Chief among the 2010 Santa Fe’s appearance differences are reshaped bumpers — recalling the 2011 Sorento’s from its sister brand, Kia — plus the requisite wheel and grille updates. The headlights remain the same, which is a bit odd since a number of other Hyundai models have adopted more Genesis-like designs. The taillights, however, get a new look. The company has also discontinued the optional third row for 2010.
On the inside is a redesigned steering wheel and darker faux-wood trim; the list of standard features also adds Bluetooth connectivity and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, among other items. It’s something a number of competitors offer, but there’s no doubt Hyundai will send three-row shoppers over to the Veracruz.
More noteworthy are the drivetrain changes. Base trims have a six-speed manual but gone are last year’s four- and five-speed automatics, which are replaced now by six-speed automatics across the board. Like the Sorento, the Santa Fe now gets a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, which Hyundai claims provides superior acceleration to the outgoing 2.7-liter V-6, or a 3.5-liter V-6. The four-cylinder and V-6 are good for 175 horsepower or 276 hp, respectively. The latter should move the Santa Fe better than last year’s modest-feeling 3.3-liter V-6; we’ve driven the V-6 Sorento and have no complaints.
Gas mileage also sees an increase to 20/28 mpg city/highway on the front-wheel-drive 2.4-liter model with an automatic. In the same layout, mileage falls just slightly — to 20/26 mpg — with the V-6. Those are significant improvements over the 2009 Santa Fe, which was EPA-rated at 18/24 mpg with the 2.7-liter V-6 and an automatic or 17/24 mpg with the 3.3-liter V-6 (both with front-wheel drive). The new figures are a welcome increase, but they fall into Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V territory rather than the front-wheel-drive Chevrolet Equinox’s segment-busting 22/32 mpg.
The Santa Fe is in showrooms now. Sans any options, prices range from $21,695 for a front-wheel-drive GLS with a manual to $30,295 for a V-6 Limited with all-wheel drive. These numbers are similar to the 2009 Santa Fe’s and on par with a number of compact crossovers.
More photos below.