2004 Hyundai Santa Fe

Those of you who were surprised at how well Hyundai finished in the recent J. D. Power Initial Quality Survey haven’t driven one lately. After all, the IQS speaks to how well a car company can read the market and Hyundai has been a fast learner. Hyundai has designed the Santa Fe to appeal to the domestic SUV buyer. The 3.5L 24-valve V-6 makes 195 hp at 5,500 rpm and 219 lb.ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm and delivers the kind of low-end acceleration that makes domestic truckers smile.

Slide behind the wheel and check out the list of features that would please any domestic buyer: tilt steering wheel, 5-speed automatic, power windows, door locks and mirrors, cruise control, 6-disc in-dash changer, a 210 watt Monsoon stereo, Homelink and heated seats. The only downside to the interior is a less-than-classy dull gray that covers everything from the carpeted floor mats, to the leather seats and a dash, that sports a texture and gloss that doesn’t quite scream class. Fit and finish, however, is right on.

Outside is a solid-built body with a style all its own and a fit and finish that domestic buyers demand. The Santa Fe sits high on an electronic four-wheel-drive system and 5-spoke 16-in. alloy wheels wrapped with P225/70R 16 B.F. Goodrich tires. There’s plenty of cargo space behind the second row accessible by a lift gate with a large easy-to-grip latch.

A quiet-riding truck should be an oxymoron, but the Santa Fe delivers the kind of quiet ride that Americans demand. And possibly the best attribute of this SUV is the $25,499 price tag and 10-year-100,000-mile powertrain warranty. That’s a lot of truck for the money.

The next generation Santa Fe, due in about a year, will be designed, validated and manufactured in North America and aimed right at the heart of the domestic market. Things can only get better for Hyundai.

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Sat. June 15th, 2024

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