2015 Hyundai Santa Fe

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
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Safety & Recalls
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Key Specs

of the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe. Base trim shown.

Our Take

Cars.com trophy.

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Stylish, upscale interior
  • Impressive panoramic moonroof available
  • Under-floor storage
  • Speed limit display on nav screen

The Bad

  • Third-row comfort
  • Over-shoulder visibility
  • No four-cylinder option

Notable Features of the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe

  • Hands-free power liftgate now available
  • Seats six or seven in three rows
  • Five-seat Santa Fe Sport also available
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Blind spot warning system and rear cross-path detection available
  • Ventilated front seats and heated second-row seats available

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Road Test

Kristin Varela

Many of us are on a fruitless, unhealthy pursuit of perfection. As mother to three young daughters (ages 14, 12 and 10), I spend a lot of time advocating for progress rather than perfection — except when it comes to cars.

I've spent 11 years on a quest for the quintessential family car, and while that perfect blend of family-friendly features still eludes me, the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe comes darn close.

Not to be confused with the smaller, five-seat Santa Fe Sport, the Santa Fe can have six or seven seats in three rows. This year, the Santa Fe has a couple of new features and updates, including my favorite: an available hands-free (and foot-free) smart liftgate that opens the cargo door when you stand near the rear bumper with the key fob on you. This feature is standard on the Limited trim I drove, but a pricey option on others. Also new this year are optional blind spot monitors with rear cross-path detection, as well as some steering and suspension modifications. Compare this year's model with last year's here.

The Santa Fe comes in front- and all-wheel-drive versions of a seven-seat GLS trim and a six-seat Limited. I drove a Limited all-wheel drive; you can see all four versions here.

If you're in the market for a three-row SUV for your people- and stuff-hauling needs, you should take the time to research the Chevrolet Traverse and Toyota Highlander, as well. Check them out side by side here.

Exterior & Styling
During my week in the Hyundai San...

Many of us are on a fruitless, unhealthy pursuit of perfection. As mother to three young daughters (ages 14, 12 and 10), I spend a lot of time advocating for progress rather than perfection — except when it comes to cars.

I've spent 11 years on a quest for the quintessential family car, and while that perfect blend of family-friendly features still eludes me, the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe comes darn close.

Not to be confused with the smaller, five-seat Santa Fe Sport, the Santa Fe can have six or seven seats in three rows. This year, the Santa Fe has a couple of new features and updates, including my favorite: an available hands-free (and foot-free) smart liftgate that opens the cargo door when you stand near the rear bumper with the key fob on you. This feature is standard on the Limited trim I drove, but a pricey option on others. Also new this year are optional blind spot monitors with rear cross-path detection, as well as some steering and suspension modifications. Compare this year's model with last year's here.

The Santa Fe comes in front- and all-wheel-drive versions of a seven-seat GLS trim and a six-seat Limited. I drove a Limited all-wheel drive; you can see all four versions here.

If you're in the market for a three-row SUV for your people- and stuff-hauling needs, you should take the time to research the Chevrolet Traverse and Toyota Highlander, as well. Check them out side by side here.

Exterior & Styling
During my week in the Hyundai Santa Fe, dressed in a Circuit Silver paint job, I had trouble finding the car in the parking lot on numerous occasions. Clad in the bland, anonymous paint shade that seems to disguise nearly every SUV in my neck of the woods, the Santa Fe just doesn't stand out. To Hyundai's credit, though, the cars I was mistaking for it were much more upmarket, like the Acura MDX.

While my husband appreciated the low-profile anonymity of driving a feature-laden car without brand pretense, if it were mine, I'd probably deck it out to suit my personality more (and help it stand out in the grocery store parking lot among all the other sporty, curvy "utes").

How It Drives
Driving the Santa Fe is quite a pleasure — not in a BMW i8 sort of way, but in a "totally functional, nothing irks you and it's even kind of fun when you punch it" sort of way. A button on the steering wheel allows you to switch between Sport, Normal and Comfort steering modes, which varies the power assist. In previous generations, I found the differences between the modes to be more pronounced than they were in the 2015 version, but maybe I was just more distracted this time with tales of "who likes whom" by my daughters while driving (wow — a lot can change in two years!).

The Santa Fe is available with one engine, a 290-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6. When equipped with all-wheel drive, it gets an EPA-estimated 18/24/20 mpg city/highway/combined (identical to the 2015 Highlander with a V-6 and all-wheel drive). The front-drive Santa Fe gets just 1 mpg more in highway and combined driving. The six-cylinder Chevrolet Traverse with all-wheel drive gets a slightly lower 16/23/19 mpg rating.

While the Santa Fe and Traverse offer only six-cylinder engines, those concerned about fuel economy can opt for a four-cylinder in the front-wheel-drive Highlander and see their mileage bump up to 20/25/22 mpg. A Highlander Hybrid is also an option for the budget-less, improving fuel economy even further to 27/28/28 mpg.

Interior
The interior of the Santa Fe is incredibly well thought out and can be thoroughly decked out in almost all the features you'd want for your family hauler. In every version, the front occupants' rear ends are pampered with standard heated seats, and seat ventilation is optional on all trims for a total of six temperature settings. My test car also had a heated steering wheel, but thanks to a nice blast of warm spring air, I didn't need it.

My only suggestion to Hyundai on how to make the Santa Fe a better fit for drivers of all sizes would be to make the telescoping steering wheel extend out just a bit farther or tilt a bit lower. I'm 5 feet 3 inches tall, and when my feet were in the right position for the pedals, my arms had to stretch just a bit too far to reach the top of the steering wheel with the proper elbow bend. The steering wheel is angled slightly, so reaching the bottom is no problem, but the top and sides were just awkward enough to cause a bit of arm fatigue when I was in the car for a long period.

I was grateful for the blind spot monitors that came standard on my test car (they're optional on the GLS), as there's a pronounced blind spot over the driver's left shoulder. Or at least there was for my small frame, as the top of the driver's seatback obscured my view. I also felt the side mirrors were a bit large. It's great for looking behind you, but slightly in the way of your front-side view, particularly when turning a corner. A taller driver, though, would probably see right over the top of them.

The second row of my test car had two captain's chairs, which are standard on the Limited trim (a bench seat is standard on the GLS). Those chairs can also have optional heated seats, controlled via a button on the door, as well as manual sunshades. Each captain's chair reclines a bit for comfort, as well as ease of installation of different types of child-safety seats. They also slide back and forth to allocate second- or third-row legroom where needed. Bottleholders and storage bins in the doors, plus standard seatback pockets, round out storage space for second-row passengers.

The third row impresses with its own standard air-temperature control, eliminating the need for passengers back there to bug the driver for more air when needed. However, the seat itself is a bit flat and firm, making it more comfortable for quick trips than for the cross-country endeavors of ambitious road-tripping families.

If child seats aren't installed in the second row, the captain's chairs can tilt and slide forward, leaving plenty of space to walk through to the third row. While the aisle between the two captain's chairs is narrower than what you'd find in a minivan, it's enough space for children to squeeze between for quick, easy access to the third row (handy if child-safety seats in the second row mean you can't tilt those seats forward — or if, like my kids, yours just prefer the walk-through maneuver).

Hyundai, like Kia, has mastered the art of the massive, if optional, panoramic moonroof. This is nothing if not impressive in a large vehicle like the Santa Fe. It spans all the way from the front seats to the third row without any obstructions in between. While the sun is way too harsh in my high-altitude Rocky Mountain climate to keep it open on a sunny day, opening it up for a little extra dose of vitamin D on a slightly overcast day is a pleasure. It's also a blast for the kids for a full-moon-gazing night drive and froyo run, complete with fuzzy pajamas.

Ergonomics & Electronics
Hyundai's multimedia touch-screen is simple enough to work through without having to break open the owner's manual. My favorite feature is the speed limit signs that magically display on the nav screen. How often do you find yourself driving around without having seen a speed limit sign in ages, wondering whether you're driving over the limit or not? Not a problem in the Santa Fe; speed limits are entered as map data points in the navigation system so you don't have to watch so fervently for elusive signs.

The climate controls are below the multimedia display and adjust intuitively via a knob for fan speed, and up and down buttons for the … you guessed it … temperature adjustments. If that doesn't seem out of the ordinary, you haven't been in many new vehicles recently.

Cargo & Storage
The Santa Fe has 13.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. Release levers on either side of the cargo bay fold each half of the third row without muss or fuss, expanding the cargo volume to 40.9 cubic feet. Folding the second row as well creates a full 80 cubic feet of space — enough for me to haul tile, grout and IKEA cabinets for two bathrooms for our nearly completed basement-finishing project. This comes close to the Highlander's 83.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo-hauling capability. However, if you plan on doing some serious DIY home improvements, the Traverse is a better bet, with its massive 116.3 cubic feet of maximum cargo space.

If you opt for the power liftgate, loading all these supplies into the Santa Fe is as simple as standing next to the rear bumper with your hands full for a few seconds with the key on you. It will open without you needing to do anything else. Brilliant!

Safety
The 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's top marks of good (on a scale of poor, marginal, acceptable and good) in side, roof-strength, moderate-overlap front and head restraint/seat tests. Unfortunately, a marginal rating in the small-overlap front test prevents the Santa Fe from receiving a Top Safety Pick rating. The Santa Fe's results match two other models in the institute's midsize SUV class; two are rated good, one is acceptable and one is poor in the small overlap.

Most cars in this class have six standard airbags, but the Santa Fe adds a seventh for the driver's knees. While the Santa Fe doesn't have forward collision warning or avoidance systems, rear cross-path detection is an option with the blind spot monitor (new for this year). Park assist sensors are also optional, and a backup camera is standard.

For families installing child-safety seats, the six-seat Santa Fe Limited's second-row captain's chairs make installation easy. Although the lower Latch anchors are not visible, sandwiched within the seat bight, your ability to adjust the seatback angle and slide the seats forward and back add to the flexibility and ease of installation. Kids in booster seats will appreciate the seat belt buckles, which are on stable-stalk bases that make buckling in easier for those with limited dexterity. For a full Car Seat Check of the seven-seat 2014 Santa Fe, click here.

See all the Santa Fe's standard safety features listed here.

Value in Its Class
Hyundai can no longer be considered a budget brand; what it is now is a value brand. You can get a lot of features packed into the Santa Fe that make it feel quite upscale and luxurious, but without paying a luxury-car price. Blend that with the peace of mind that Hyundai's impressive warranty offers and the Santa Fe really starts to look like a clear class winner. It will, however, be quite interesting to see what happens as the redesigned 2016 Kia Sorento hits the market with its upscale fit and finish.

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Latest 2015 Santa Fe Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.4)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.5)
Reliability
(4.4)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Fits my needs and ain't bad lookin.

by JoeC from Poulsbo, Wa on July 10, 2018

Just drove 1200 miles and no complaints to report. Great ride! Comfortable for 4 adults. Held all my camping equipment with room to spare. Fits my needs. Read full review

(5.0)

So far haven?t let me down

by Honeylynn365 from Chicago,ill on April 27, 2018

I love this car. I drive this car everyday. It?s been reliable,comfortable and sturdy. It is a perfect car for housewife and mother. If you keep it?s oil change and tuneups I believe this could be a ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Santa Fe received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

B

Infant seat

A

Booster

(second row)

B

Booster

(third row)

B

Latch or Latch system

A

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

A
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker