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The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide
PRACTICAL HYUNDAI SANTA FE IS A FUN SUV TO DRIVE!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

The popular and much-touted midsize crossover from Hyundai comes in several trims. There is the Santa Fe Sport, the Sport 2.0T, the GLS and the Limited, which was our test drive for a week. The six-passenger, front-wheel-drive  (AWD is also available) is equipped with a 3.3-liter gasoline-direct injection V-6 engine cranking out 290 horsepower @ 6400 rpm and 252 pounds-feet of torque @ 5200 rpm. Like the other trims, it too is mated to a slick-shifting 6-speed auto transmission. Suspension is handled capably by a front MacPherson strut and a rear multilink system. The driver selectable steering mode allows the SUV to be driven in comfort, sport and natural modes via a switch on the steering wheel. 

The forceful front shows off a massive hexagonal chrome grille surrounded by HID headlights while the rear gets a spoiler with LED tail lamps and a twin-tip chrome exhaust. Electroluminescent analog gauges for odometer, tachometer, fuel level and coolant temperature are clear, large and easy to read. Other niceties include dual-zone auto climate control, tilt/telescopic steering column, driver information center, power locks/windows/mirrors, remote keyless entry, second-row Captains chairs and third-row 50/50 bench seat, manual rear window sunshades, metallic accents and Bluetooth phone capabilities. 

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, hill accent/descent control, blind spot detection system, vehicle stability management with traction control, front/rear crumple zones and tire pressure monitoring system are standard. 

Fuel mileage is astonishingly laudable as we raked in 19 mpg in city and 28 mpg on highway (EPA estimates are 17/23), attributed partly to the active Eco system. Indeed, practicality and fun take a front seat in this fine, well-liked ride with its bold styling and inviting cabin. 

SANTA FE SPORT (FWD)

Tires: P235/65 R17

Wheelbase: 110.2 inches

Length: 193.1 inches

Weight: 3,904 pounds 

Tow capacity: 5,000 pounds

Base price: $34,250

Fuel capacity: 18.8 gallons

Web site: www.hyundai.com

CALLING ALL HYUNDAI DEALERS IN THE WEST CENTRAL FLORIDA AREA: if you would like to be listed here as one of the test-drive dealerships, e-mail us at motoringtampabay@gmail.com