When Hyundai first introduced the Santa Fe in model year 2001, I was among the first to drive it. At the time I praised the vehicle’s solidity and comfort, but I chastised it for its anemic four-cylinder engine and its “merely adequate” 2.7L 6 option.

Well, time has a way of fixing things at Hyundai and having just stepped out of the 2003 model with its newly optional 3.5L workhorse un" />

Issue: Jun 2003


Cars Worth Noting - 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe



by Gerry Kobe

When Hyundai first introduced the Santa Fe in model year 2001, I was among the first to drive it. At the time I praised the vehicle’s solidity and comfort, but I chastised it for its anemic four-cylinder engine and its “merely adequate” 2.7L 6 option.

Well, time has a way of fixing things at Hyundai and having just stepped out of the 2003 model with its newly optional 3.5L workhorse under the hood, I’ve changed my tune. The Santa Fe isn’t torque-challenged anymore, it’s born-again mean.

Lifted out of the XG350, the new engine brings with it a degree of refinement that the Santa Fe wears well. It also brings with 219 lbs.-ft. of torque that translates to acceleration-on-demand. Unlike the old V- this one loudly squawks the tires when you floor it and pulls hard through the entire rev band. But as RPMs go up, noise and vibration follow a much less aggressive curve, giving the Santa Fe an attractive, upscale persona.

I also appreciate that over the years Hyundai has kept prices in check. My GLS model test vehicle stickered for $21,500 and that’s with just about everything you’d want as standard equipment. Part of that equipment, by the way, is a noteworthy 218-watt Monsoon stereo system, that is good as anything out there, irrespective fancy names.

And for anybody that thinks $21,500 is much to pay for a Hyundai, just go shopping. These babies sell well under sticker and well worth it.

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