Five years after coming to market and one year after a mild refresh, the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe continues to present a value proposition for family focused shoppers. Although a new model should hit showrooms in the near future, the current Santa Fe's excellent safety scores, comfortable ride, and overall versatility make it a solid choice in the in the midsize crossover class.

Best Value

The 2018 Santa Fe ranges in price from $30,850 for a front-wheel-drive model in base SE trim and rises to $44,350 for one in Limited trim with all-wheel-drive and equipped with the Tech Package. All models feature a 290 horsepower 3.3-liter V6 matched to a six-speed automatic as well as a high level of standard equipment.

We'd pass on the base SE for the midrange SE Ultimate with its leather interior, panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel and middle-row seats, heated and cooled front seats, smart key with pushbutton start, rear side window sunshades, hands-free liftgate, larger eight-inch touchscreen, Infinity sound system, multi-view camera system with rearview camera, and rear parking sensors. Choosing the Ultimate trim also gains access to the optional Tech Package with its host of active safety features.

  • Model: 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe SE Ultimate
  • Engine: 3.3-liter V6
  • Output: 290 horsepower / 252 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • MPG: 18 City / 25 Hwy
  • Exterior color: Regal Red Pearl
  • Interior color: Beige
  • Options: Tech Package ($2,100, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, electronic parking brake, dynamic HID headlights, and automatic high beams)
  • Base Price: $39,800
  • As Tested: $41,900

Performance Pros

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
  • The Santa Fe presents a smoother ride than the similar Santa Fe Sport, owing to its longer wheelbase.
  • The six-speed transmission shifts crisply.
  • The Santa Fe's ride is calm and quiet both in around town driving and highway cruising.

Performance Cons

  • The transmission sometimes hesitates under hard acceleration.
  • Steering feedback is vague off-center.
  • Despite its 290-horsepower V6 engine, the Santa Fe's powertrain struggles to manage the crossover's weight.

Interior Pros

  • Both the nicely-bolstered front seats and those in the middle row offer plenty of leg and headroom.
  • With the third row folded, the Santa Fe has more than 40 cubic feet of cargo space.
  • Interior trim quality is above average for the class.

Interior Cons

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
  • Third row is small, difficult to reach, and lacks sufficient knee and headroom for adults.
  • Cargo room behind the third row is a subpar 13.5 cubic feet.
  • More tire noise than in the smaller Santa Fe Sport model.

Our Favorite Thing

The Santa Fe's smooth ride is a real highlight, as it reduces fatigue on the kind of long drives owners will likely enlist it for.

Our Least Favorite Thing

The Santa Fe trails competitors like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander with a smaller third row seat and less cargo space behind it.

Right For

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

A smooth ride, spacious cabin, and long list of standard features make the Santa Fe a good choice for families with younger children and a viable alternative to a minivan.

Wrong For

Although a 4,000-pound crossover isn't expected to be particularly fuel efficient, the Santa Fe SE Ultimate's EPA-estimated 17 miles per gallon in the city, 20 on the highway, and 20 combined ratings trail competitors like the Honda Pilot (19 city, 27 highway, 22 combined), Toyota Highlander (20 city, 27 highway, 23 combined), Chevrolet Traverse (20 city, 26 highway, 22 combined), and Nissan Murano (18 city, 27 highway, 21 combined). Those interested in fuel economy should look elsewhere.

The Bottom Line

Although its fuel economy trails that of many of its competitors, the Santa Fe's smooth ride, spacious interior, value, and level of standard features make it a solid offering in its class.