The 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe has finally grown up, having been sandwiched between the compact and mid-size crossover SUV category for years. Hyundai officially places this latest 2020 Santa Fe in the mid-size category, neatly between Hyundai’s smaller Tucson and their larger, full size, three-row Palisade.
The 2020 Santa Fe crossover delivers admirable fit and finish in its top trim levels along with competitive performance attributes, appealing design, and outstanding safety ratings, all without sacrificing its trademark value. The crossover carries over with minimal package and option shuffling, but oddly enough, some desirable active safety features such as rear cross-traffic alert and automatic rear braking no longer come as standard fare and are limited to the upper trim levels.
Compared to the prior model, this latest Santa Fe projects a more upscale persona. Borrowing the two-tiered headlight system from the rest of the stable, the Santa Fe is boxier in form, is more upright, and bolder-looking than its predecessor. The interior is high quality, with features like contrasting stitching, handy storage cubbies and quality materials with attention to detailed fit and finish.
The 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe no longer displays a Vanilla flavor, but rather a distinctive style that’s undeniably appealing. The two-tier headlight system, taller proportions, boxier roofline, and attention to detail make the Santa Fe a desirable crossover. The signature Hyundai grille looks better on the more upright front end, with even base models stepping up to the plate with 17-inch alloys and ample chrome and plastic body cladding as top-tier models.
The interior is also high quality, with a broad curvy dashboard that surrounds both the driver and passenger separately. A 7.0-inch infotainment screen (8.0-inch on prior models) is standard and is positioned front-and-center, with easy access climate controls and high legibility. Cloth upholstery comes standard, with leather optionally available.
A 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine is the standard source of power, adequately motivates the just over two ton Santa Fe with 185 horsepower, but the optionally available transversely front mounted 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger is a more solid choice delivering 235 horses at 6,000 rpm while developing 260 pound feet of torque at 1,450 rpm. An 8-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC and a manual shift mode provides smooth but sometimes seemingly sluggish gear changes, directing motive force to the front wheels as standard, while all-wheel drive is optionally available.
CONVENIENT CREATURE COMFORTS
In Santa Fe’s last generation, it was available in both a short-wheelbase, five-passenger “Sport” version and in seven-passenger standard form. The former is no more, while the latter has been replaced by the 2020 Palisade. The Santa Fe now is five-passenger only.
An additional 2.8 inches in length and 2.6 inches between axles allows for both more passenger and cargo space, with more than 40 inches of legroom for rear seat occupants.
The wheelbase is now three-inches-longer than the old five-passenger model, fitting all occupants in comfort with adequate cargo space behind the rear seats and storage nook and crannies throughout.
The infotainment screen links with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and automatic emergency braking is also standard on the base model.
Hyundai offers a power liftgate, and with 36 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, the load area is large and easily accessible. The space increases to 71 cubic inches with the rear seats folded flat, and with plenty of storage spaces throughout, adding to its practicality and versatility.
Material quality is basically top-flight for all trim levels, including contrasting stitching, high-quality trim pieces, and good build quality.
My test 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe came in the Limited trim level powered by the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and in a front wheel drive configuration. The exterior wore a brilliant Lava Orange metallic finish while the interior was done in Black. The base price was set at $37,500., while the carpeted floor mats and Inland Freight and Handling charges elevated the final sticker to $38,730.
The base 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.4-liter engine is adequate while the turbocharged four cylinder and its added 50 horsepower generates more enthusiasm. The ride quality is pliant for all trim levels, with an optional self-leveling rear air suspension for calmer rides and improved towing ability. The 8-speed automatic gearbox delivers somewhat leisurely shift responses, even when placed in the more sporty mode.
The ride quality is pleasant, and handling characteristics are responsive enough with light steering for daily driving scenarios.
The 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe earns outstanding crash-test scores, but deletes some formerly-standard active safety features. It does include automatic braking as standard while adding optional safety features for this year, but unfortunately, has taken away some that were standard last year.
Hyundai has added blind-spot monitors on Limited models, as well as rear occupant alert for the base SE and SEL models.
The Santa Fe no longer comes standard with the blind-spot collision avoidance and rear cross-traffic alert and automatic braking systems, with those features having been moved to the SEL trim and above
The top-tier Limited trim includes leather upholstery, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, premium audio, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a surround-view camera system, heated steering wheel, wireless cellphone charger, a head-up display, and automatic wipers.
The 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T Limited FWD has definitely advanced in stature across the board as an attractive, reliable and versatile SUV. The base, 2.4-liter Santa Fe models deliver 22 mpg city, 29 highway, 25 combined while the all-wheel drive option decreases that slightly, resulting in 21/27/24 mpg, according to EPA estimates.
The turbocharged 2.0-liter model makes 20/27/23 mpg. The all-wheel-drive version manages 20/26/22 mpg, but does include 50 more horsepower over the base model.
Approaching the $40,000 mark fully loaded, the Santa Fe is not inexpensive, but is a convincing near-luxury SUV priced below the competition.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T Limited FWD
Base Price: $37,500.
Price as Tested: $38,730.
Engine Type and Size: 2.0-liter, DOHC, 16-valve intercooled turbocharged inline four-cylinder with GDI.
Horsepower (bhp): 235 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 260 @ 1,450 rpm
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic w/SHIFTRONIC and manual shift mode.
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / FWD
Suspension: Front – MacPherson strut with twin-tube, gas-filled dampers and 26-mm stabilizer bar.
Rear – Multi-link with gas shock absorbers and 19-mm stabilizer bar.
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (ventilated front) with 4-wheel, 4-channel, 4-sensor ABS, EBD and Brake Assist.
Tires: Hankook Dynapro HP2 – 235/55 HR19 101H mounted on 5-“hole geo” spoke machine face with black painted inners.
Wheelbase: 108.9 inches
Length Overall: 187.8 inches
Width: 74.4 inches – w/o mirrors
Height: 66.1 inches
Curb Weight: 4,085 lbs.
Turning Circle: 37.5 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 18.8 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 20 mpg city / 27-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.34
0 – 60 mph: Not tested
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