Words: Don Cheng
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: July 19, 2016
7-seater SUVs have been selling like hot cakes these days, and favour for the classic minivan has subsequently waned. Though a sliding door for ingress and egress is still the better and more convenient option, many buyers can’t stand the domesticated shame of driving their kids to school in a Toyota Sienna. After all, the driver is never the one that has to crawl through a tiny hole to get to the back seat. Hot off the heels of the Infiniti QX60, I spent a week in the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe XL, or as I’d like to call it, the Santa Sleigh XL.
Those keen about Hyundai’s line-up would recognize that the XL wasn’t the first time the Korean brand had offered a third row seating option. Up until 2012, Hyundai had sold the Veracruz in North America with the option to seat 5 adults and punish 2 more in the back. The brand discontinued the sharply named Veracruz – seriously, what a lovely name – in 2012 with the launch of the third generation Santa Fe and its long wheel base platform mate, the XL.
For 2017, the Santa Fe has received an extensive refresh that involves a new front fascia, LED daytime running lights and wheels that look suspiciously like the Mercedes-Benz C300’s. A revised centre stack and an extensive host of new changes wrap up the interior.
What remains untouched is the car’s drivetrain. All Santa Fes, regardless of trim or size, come equipped with the Hyundai family’s venerable Lambda II 3.3L V6 engine. Producing 290-hp and 252 lb-ft of twist, it allows the 1,840 kg SUV to hustle up to speed adequately, and the well programmed 6-speed automatic transmission translates into smooth highway passes. Notably, the Santa Fe XL is devoid of fancy turbocharging technologies or complex CVTs – Hyundai has opted to stick with the basic formula producing a reliable and solid driving experience – something families are sure to appreciate.
Another feature we would like to bring up is the comfort-oriented suspension. The heavy SUV experiences far more body roll than its competitors. Squat and dive is also further pronounced. However, drive under the speed limit and those inside are pampered with a serene and quiet ride that is much expected from an SUV in this segment – just make sure to tell dad not to hit the racetrack in this ‘ute.
Speaking of the insides, the XL offers a pretty familiar experience for those who have driven a third-generation Santa Fe. The company says they’ve revised the center stack, but I’m still yet to notice the difference as it feels almost identical.
Similar to the drivetrain, the brand has stuck to a function over form formula. The dash is bland and unimaginative, but that keeps the view out the front free from clutter. The buttons and dials feel a little cheap and mushy to operate, but are easy to read and very accessible to any driver wishing to take his eyes of the road for just that split second.
As tested, this XL arrived in Limited 6-seat guise. I like that Hyundai offers customers the choice between a second row bench or a two captain’s chairs (like a traditional minivan). The latter adds $400 to the sticker. All told this XL came out to $44,799, which is $12,000 above base price.
While the extra coin doesn’t net you much change in interior materials or craftsmanship, it does add all of the modern day convenience features you’d expect. Items like a large panoramic sunroof, 8”-inch navigation, Smart Liftgate (it automatically props open when you stand behind the car with the key), HID headlights, and a 12-speaker Infinity audio system. Most of the safety features are on board too. This tester came equipped with park assistance sensors, blind spot monitoring, and rear-cross traffic alert (a backup camera is standard).
Those who might want a few more nannies watching over them as they drive can still opt for one more trim level – the Santa Fe XL Ultimate, a $3,300 trim that sits above the Limited. It adds a few more safety features such as Adaptive Cruise Control (with Stop-Go traffic capability), autonomous emergency braking (with Pedestrian Detection), multi-view camera system, and lane departure warning.
Hyundai has been working hard over the last decade to become more than just an economy brand. Their sweat and tears have consistently paid off and I walk away after each Hyundai more and more impressed by the work they’ve done. The Santa Fe XL isn’t for everyone, in fact, I wouldn’t even recommend the XL unless you absolutely required a 7-seater family ‘ute.
If you can make do with the regular five-seater Santa Fe Sport, that’d be the one to get.
Notably, you can pick up a fully loaded Sport Ultimate for $200 less than the XL Limited. But for those buyers who don’t need luxury appliances and are just looking for a family sleigh to get their family of seven around town, then look no further. Santa's got you covered.
型号 Model: 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe XL
顏色 Paint Type: Storm Blue
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $32,199
試車售價 Price as Tested: $44,799
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,800
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,905 / 1,885 / 1,700
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,895
引擎 Engine: 3.3L DOHC V6 engine with GDI
最大馬力 Horsepower: 290 hp @ 6,400 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 252 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 13.9 / 10.8 / 12.5
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P235/55R19