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2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD; Safety Is a Strong Point

Families looking for a vehicle with third row seating will want to check out the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe. Safety is a strong point.

With lots of options for consumers in the mid-size, 3-row SUV segment, it’s easy for the Hyundai Santa Fe to get lost in the crowd. The Santa Fe has a lot to offer and it gives consumers good value when compared with the competition. It received new exterior styling for 2017, and safety equipment is a strong point for this vehicle as it just earned a Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

This week, we drove the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Ultimate AWD model.

What’s new for 2018?

Aside from some option and trim changes, the Hyundai Santa Fe is unchanged for 2018.

Features and options

The Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Ultimate model ($41,300) comes standard with built-in turn signals for the exterior mirrors, LED taillights, keyless ignition and entry, a hands-free power rear lift gate, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, and leather upholstery. It swaps out the second-row bench seat for captain’s chairs.

Limited Ultimate models also feature 19-inch alloy wheels, a 360-degree multiview camera system, a panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors, a six-way power front passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, driver memory settings, navigation, and an Infinity surround-sound audio system with an 8-inch touchscreen display.

Safety features

Hyundai Santa Fe is available with the latest advanced safety features for families. The optional Ultimate Tech Package ($2,100) added smart cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking for forward collision mitigation. HID headlights with dynamic-bending and high beam assist were also included. Total MSRP including destination: $44,500.

Interior highlights

Stepping inside the Santa Fe Limited Ultimate reveals a stylish cabin that’s pleasing to the eye and touch. Textures and materials look especially good and fit together well. The Ultimate trim gets upgraded matte-finish woodgrain elements that complement the revised exterior styling and move Hyundai closer to the competition. The front seats are comfortably-shaped and more supportive than the previous model.

We made liberal use of the heated seats and steering wheel this weekend as temperatures dropped into the teens in the mountain area west of Denver. The cubby in front of the gearshift came in handy to store the gloves and hats we needed before the cabin warmed up. Visibility is good out the heated rear window, and the wiper placed there made it easy to see out as the snow fell.


In the rear, the Santa Fe Limited Ultimate trim gets a six-passenger layout, making use of comfy captain’s chairs in the second row. Second-row passengers get ample legroom as well as satisfying seat comfort. The third-row bench is best for youngsters and it’s easy to access through the center of the second row seats. Rear passengers get their own climate control settings, while the second row gets heated seats and pull-down shades to keep the sun out. Cargo space behind the third row totals 13.5 cubic feet, expanding beyond 40 cubic feet with the third row folded flat.

Engine and fuel mileage specs

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe is powered by a 3.3-liter V6 engine developing 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic. Our tester sent power to all four wheels for good all-weather capability. Fuel economy runs about average, which isn’t the most economical. Santa Fe gets an EPA estimated 17/22 city/highway and 19 combined mpg with all-wheel-drive.

Driving dynamics

The all-wheel drive Santa Fe came in handy as we had snow falling in the front range and mountains west of Denver. The Santa Fe’s all-wheel drive system was solid as we powered through the snow and ice on the mountain roads near Evergreen. We had no slippage even on the most challenging snow-packed and icy spots.

The V6 offers up plenty of power in all driving situations, and we pushed it hard up I-70 at altitude with no issues passing slower vehicles. The only drawback is the AWD’s fuel mileage. The gas gauge dropped quickly as we powered up the highway. There is a Drive Mode selector for ECO mode, but we found it limits performance, while saving only a little fuel.

On the road, the Santa Fe delivers a smooth ride and it’s quiet inside the cabin. Even with the Limited Ultimate’s 19-inch wheels, the suspension dampens the worst pavement surfaces and delivers a comfortable ride.


Families looking for a 3-row hauler will get good value from the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe. The Limited Ultimate trim gets you lots of extra luxury for a reasonable price with all-wheel drive all-weather control available for those living in cold climates. It comes with the latest safety equipment rated highest by IIHS, and features the latest high-tech features families are looking for.