I usually have a clear idea of what to expect from a car after I see it for the first time. Yes, I have been surprised a few times but after the initial shock I can adapt to what the car has to offer. However, driving the Hyundai Santa Fe was quite a curious experience. Before the Creta’s launch, the Santa Fe was the latest Hyundai model in the Mexican market. We were eager to see what the brand had come up with to enchant the national SUV lovers and we were certainly delighted with what we found.
Although it does not seem like it right from the start, the Santa Fe is a big car. Its deceiving looks resemble the Tucson but the Santa Fe is bigger and more luxurious than its smaller crossover cousin. The frame follows the latest Hyundai renovations and even though it maintains its discrete demeanor on the outside, everything is really hidden on the inside. The seats are attractive and once you get in the driving seat you find absolute comfort. The controls are quite similar to other Hyundai models like the Elantra and they are merged successfully with the rest of the interiors. However, probably the Santa Fe’s best interior feature is its panoramic roof. The entire panel can open giving you a gorgeous view and a sense of space and enormity.
Great as these features might be, they were not what surprised me most about the Hyundai. It is the actual driving that leaves you pleasantly confused. Despite its enormous size, the Santa Fe is extremely nimble and agile. If you step on the accelerator, the Hyundai will deliver. I decided to test in on the highway and the response I got was incredible. There are a few hiccups that should not be overlooked and that contribute to that sense of unfamiliarity. Even though you will always manage to accelerate, there are times when you have to wait a second or two before the Santa Fe decides to power up. The transmission is also a bit complicated to understand and it will sometimes decide to stay when you expect it to change gears.
It takes some time to get used to the Santa Fe but it is certainly a pleasant drive. Moreover, it offers many advantages that Mexico City drivers will surely appreciate. The chassis has enough clearance to beat any speed bump and pothole without scratching. Its turning radius is also tight enough to maneuver Mexico City’s narrow streets without fear. Its only true weakness is its rearview camera. It is not very clear and it can confuse you once coupled with its proximity sensors. That being said, safety is certainly a strong suit in the Hyundai. The car has the same blind spot detection system featured in the Elantra and even though it can be a bit overdramatic at times, there is no such thing as being too careful.
The Hyundai Santa Fe was a nice surprise and a good remainder that big does not always mean slower. With overall comfort and an excellent performance, the Santa Fe will certainly be a strong contender in the Mexican SUV market.