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2017 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD

Frank Washington | 7/26/2017, midnight
We were impressed when we arrived here for a quick four-day visit and they brought us a 2017 Hyundai Santa ...

We were impressed when we arrived here for a quick four-day visit and they brought us a 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe.

It was a three-row crossover chock-full of all sorts of creature comforts. Powered by a 3.3-liter direct injected V6 engine that made 290 horsepower, it moved the Santa Fe effortlessly. The six-speed automatic transmission transferred the 252 pound-feet of torque to pavement smoothly.

Aggressive acceleration when getting on I-85/75, bumper to bumper traffic, whatever just didn’t matter; this powertrain was up to any task. Handling was great too. Although the Santa Fe had three rows of seats it didn’t drive big nor did it look big.

We had a panoramic roof but rarely let the screen back and the sun in. Heck, it was almost 90 degrees the first day we arrived. And it was sunny and hot thereafter. But the weather, in effect, allowed us to use some common sense.

We had the front-wheel-drive version of the Santa Fe. We didn’t need the all-wheel-version in this climate. That knocked almost $2,000 off the base price. And it also saved on operating cost. The FWD version of the Santa Fe weighed less, which meant it was much better on fuel. It got 17 mpg in the city, 23 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg combined. That’s one to two mpg better than the AWD version. Over the course of a year, that is significant savings at the fuel pump.

We had the 2017 Santa Fe LTD ULT. In other words, it was the top of the line except for the all-wheel-drive version. There was a heated steering wheel, we doubt that you would really need that here but the cool half of the heated and cooled front seats got used.

The second row captain’s seats were also heated. There was plenty of room behind them because the third row seats were folded and formed a flat cargo floor.

For 2017, the Santa Fe had a redesigned front fascia, front grille and headlights. The rear fascia had been “enhanced” with new taillights and a new dual exhaust outlet. There was a new rocker panel trim with silver integrated accents.

The large crossover also had LED daytime running lights as well as LED fog lights. It also had Xenon headlights. Technology has moved so fast with LED headlights we often forget that Xenon headlights are very good at lighting the way.

It was a good-looking crossover inside and out. We had blind spot alert, a 360-degree camera with rearview camera and front views, lane departure alert, Bluetooth and voice controls, which worked pretty well when we used the feature.

Of course, there was satellite radio, adaptive cruise control and adaptive headlights, privacy shades for the second row windows, a navigation system which we used and we were particularly pleased that the ignition did not have to be switched on or the engine running for the USB jack in the Hyundai Santa Fe to charge our Smartphone. We just plugged it in and got that vibration to signal us our phone was being charged.

A lot of common sense went into the Santa Fe. We thought the volume control for the navigation system being in plain sight was great. We set it and it worked independently of the audio system. You’d be surprised at the number of vehicles that is not the case.

The interior was really nice. Dominated by the center stack, it was a vertical layout with infotainment screen underlined with command buttons for the radio, media, map voice and navigation. We tried Blue Link but weren’t subscribed; it was the same thing with vehicle diagnostics and driving information. Old fashioned dials for volume and tuning the audio system were appreciated.

Our only beef, such as it was, was the navigation alert system. It told us that there was traffic congestion about a mile away. That was true but it didn’t add that a section of I-85 had collapsed and that we would have to detour. As technology speeds along no doubt software is coming to get complete updates to the driver closer to real time.

Still, for $42,885 as tested, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD ULT FWD is a pretty good buy.

Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.