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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe Overview

Impressive First Entry

This is Hyundai's first foray into the American SUV market, and they have conjured up a pretty impressive entry. The Santa Fe sits right on the fence between a small and mid-sized SUV, making it one of the largest of the mini-SUVs. Its wheelbase is five inches longer than the RAV4's, and one inch shorter the new Jeep Liberty. We place the Santa Fe in the small SUV category primarily because of the base model's four-cylinder engine-and yes, we know there is an optional V6-but the same applies to the Ford Escape and Suzuki Grand Vitara. As you can see, the clear-cut lines that separated vehicles into unique categories are very often fuzzy.

Let's begin with the Santa Fe's styling. It's unique, that's for sure; and it doesn't look like anything else out there. People will either love this car or hate it, but one thing is for certain, it's not the kind of design that lends itself to ambivalence. In place of the square, upright look of so many American SUV's, Hyundai has given the Santa Fe character lines usually associated with sports cars. Sweeping arcs adorn the wheel arches and deeply creased contours flow across the hood to form the sculpted headlight pods. There is a strong family resemblance to the Tiburon and the Sonata. Stylish body cladding surrounds the bumper faces and lower doors with aggressive 5-spoke, 16-inch alloy wheels complete the package.

The Santa Fe is available in three trim levels: base, GLS and LX. The standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine produces 149-horsepower and is only available on the base models with 2WD. The more potent 2.7-liter V6 is optional on the base model and standard on the GLS and LX. Both engines can be equipped with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic-the later is standard on the GLS and LX models. Any V6 Santa Fe can be ordered with the option of full-time 4WD. Hyundai's system uses a viscous-coupling center differential to split the power 60/40 between the front and rear wheels. Full-time 4WD is always engaged and requires no input from the driver.

Even in its base guise, the Santa Fe is extremely well equipped. Standard features for all models include: Power windows and door locks, cruise control, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD stereo, rear defrost, illuminated ignition, tilt wheel, driver and passenger side airbags, split 60/40 folding rear seat and intermittent wipers. Get a base model with the optional V6 and all-wheel drive, and you have a pretty nicely equipped SUV for just over $20K.

Interior room is generous, again due to the Santa Fe's size. There is good head and legroom for both front and rear passengers. With the rear seat folded, a whopping 78-cubic feet of cargo space becomes available (29.4 when the seat is in place). Seats are covered in a handsome knit cloth and are relatively comfortable, coming up a bit short in the thigh support category. The dash is modern and well organized, yet the tactile feeling of the switchgear and quality of the plastics used in the cabin are not quite on par with those of Japanese rivals Honda and Toyota. On the road, the Santa Fe is comfortable and stable. It tracks straight, with no wandering or drifting and the steering response does not completely disconnect the driver from the road. The Santa Fe does lean a bit in corners and the 4-cylinder model is best ordered only with the 5-speed manual. The V6 is better equipped to handle the Santa Fe's weight, but don't expect commanding passing power as a fully-loaded, V6 model tips the scales at just over 3700 pounds. In all, the Santa Fe deserves a test drive, or at the very least, a look. If the price and standard equipment don't convince you, then maybe Hyundai's 10-year/100,000 mile warranty will.

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