Like all of its siblings, the Hyundai Santa Fe does a lot right. Competitors have more upscale interior appearances and the sport utility vehicle isn’t geared for rugged adventures. The Santa Fe also doesn’t have the best performance in a super-competitive segment.
What it does offer is versatility. It has impressive gas mileage, a healthy supply of safety features, the industry’s best warranty and attractive pricing.
Which is why the 2020 edition, with a few tweaks from the 2019 offering, is a top choice in the mid-size market.
Gone is the Ultimate trim, leaving the base SE, SEL and Limited. As the new top-level offering, the reviewed Limited trim was equipped with the discontinued Ultimate trim’s equipment, including blind-view monitoring, and a higher price. The SE trim no longer offers cross-traffic and blind-spot warnings, although it’s standard on the two other trims.
2020 Hyundai Santa Fe: good gas mileage
The Hyundai Santa Fe is available in a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower and a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four with 235 horsepower. Both options have eight-speed automatic transmissions and are available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. It has seating for five, but back-seat passengers don’t have a lot of room.
Gas-mileage averages are 22 miles per gallon in city driving and 29 mpg on the highway. EPA estimates are 21 mpg in city treks and 27 mpg on the highway in the all-wheel option. In two previous Santa Fe reviews in recent years, mileage averages exceeded the EPA estimates.
While changes are minimal, the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe is slightly longer (15 1/2 feet) than previous models. As such, it’s longer than compact competitors and shorter than some mid-sized SUVs.
The interior design gives the Santa Fe substantial legroom. It has a smooth operating 60/40 split back seat. It folds easily and reclines. In the SEL and Limited trims, the back seats slide to increase cargo space or bring back seat passengers closer to front-seat occupants.
The feature isn’t often offered in two-row SUVs. For the statistically inclined, there are 35.9 cubic feet with the seats raised and 71.2 cubic inches when lowered.
As the top-line Santa Fe, the Limited trim offers quality in what’s expected in premium trims. Leather seating is high quality and the faux-wood trim looks upscale.
A head-up display and wireless phone charger are offered in the top trim and add to Hyundai’s usual plentiful supply of standard equipment from lower-level trims.
Hyundai’s navigation systems are always top-line, including in the Santa Fe. with its intuitive crisp, easy-to-read and easy-to hear directions. Even the base SE trim, the 7-inch screen presentation is complemented with Apple Car Play and Android Auto as standard equipment as are four USB ports. The two upper trims also feature a head-up display and wireless phone charger.
Driving the Hyundai Santa Fe showcases another strong trait. It’s smooth over bumps and accelerates quietly and steadily. The turbocharged hauler advances without a lag, but more performance would be welcomed. The Santa Fe advances from 0-to-60 miles per hour in 8.8 seconds. Using the Sport mode gives the performance a healthy boost and a spry overall driving experience.
The SUV market is chock-full of choices. With a starting MSRP of slightly more than $34,000, the Hyundai Santa Fe is among the top choices. Its worthiness is sealed with the South Korean manufacturer’s industry-best 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
Article Last Updated: March 2, 2021.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.