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2006 Santa Fe rugged & comfortable

March 10, 2006|By Ken Chester, Jr. / MOTOR NEWS MEDIA

Despite the onslaught of competitors that invaded the low end of the sport utility market over the last few years, Hyundai still manages to not only remain a viable alternative for American consumers in today's highly competitive marketplace, but grow in volume and market share.

Last year Hyundai freshened, upgraded and refined the Santa Fe. Offered in GLS 2.7L, GLS 3.5L and Limited trim levels, the Hyundai SUV is propelled by the strong 2.7L Delta DOHC 24-valve V6 ? now the base engine ? or the powerful 3.5L Sigma DOHC V6 that joined the equipment roster last year. Gearbox options include a fully adaptive automatic four-speed H-Matic with a manual shift override feature for precise control or a five-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission for the 3.5L V6.

Also available with the 3.5L engine is an advanced electronic 4WD system. Designed by Borg-Warner, the new system features InterActive Torque Management. When the system senses the front wheels slipping, power to the rear wheels is reduced or eliminated. This electronic system manages power between the front and rear wheels for maximum vehicle traction and fuel economy.

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AWD Santa Fe models equipped with the 2.7L engine features Fulltime 4WD, with power transmitted to the wheels through a four-wheel-drive system via the Dual Drive Differential that features two planetary gears and a viscous coupling. The Fulltime 4WD system is designed to deliver 60 percent of the power to the front wheels and 40 percent to the rear. This 4WD system was designed by Steyr-Puch and is driver-friendly and fully automatic ? requiring no input form the driver.

On the road, the big 3.5L V6 delivers strong acceleration. It is responsive and powerful. The Santa Fe is quick and quiet at speed. Based on the previous generation Sonata car platform, the Santa Fe rides on a robust chassis, offering consumers a unique combination of carlike driveability, steering, ride, handling and braking with truck-like seating height and profile.

An independent front suspension with MacPherson struts and coil springs work together with a fully-independent trailing arm design with multi-links, coil springs and hydraulic shock absorbers in the rear. Front and rear anti-roll bars help keep the Santa Fe under control.

Inside the cabin, Hyundai engineers paid close attention to the needs and wants of the American consumer. Excellent outward visibility is joined with convenient displays and controls. The climate controls are the easy grip variety. Dual power points on the dashboard, map pockets in both front doors and unique cupholders in the center console make this environment very hospitable. The center armrest covers a cavernous storage bin while the overhead console features a place for sunglasses.

In the midst of all this creature comfort for the driver and front passenger, the rear seat occupants are not ignored. There is plenty of leg room. Cupholders are built into the rear doors, and armrests and assist handles for all four doors facilitate entry and exit. The rear seat is a 60/40 split that folds flat with the cargo floor after the removal of the headrests.

In the cargo area, a hidden release opens just the rear window for small packages or the entire liftgate for more bulky items. A low, flat floor throughout the vehicle facilitates loading, entry and exit.

Quick vehicle stats



Wheelbase: 103.1; overall length: 177.2; width: 72.7; height: 66.0 ? measurements in inches.

Engine: 2.7L V6 ? 170 hp at 6,000 rpm and 181 lbs-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm; 3.5L V6 ? 200 hp at 5,500 rpm and 219 lbs-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm.

Transmission: four-speed Shiftronic automatic; five-speed Shiftronic automatic.

EPA fuel economy: 2.7L ? 19 city/25 hwy.,(2WD); 18 city/23 hwy., (4WD); 3.5L ? 17 city/23 hwy.

Cargo capacity: 77.7 cu. ft.

Towing capacity: 3,000 lbs.

Safety features



Dual front airbags, front seat-mounted side-impact airbags, fog lights, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, traction control, remote keyless entry, underbody skid plate, conventional spare tire and first aid kit. GLS 3.5L adds HomeLink integrated transceiver. Limited adds automatic headlight control.

Warranty



Basic: 5-year/60,000 mile, bumper-to-bumper.

Powertrain: 10-year/100,000 mile,

Corrosion: 7-year/unlimited.

Roadside assistance: 5-year/unlimited, 24-hour.

Pricing



The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2006 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV starts from $21,695 for the GLS 2.7L 2WD model up to $25,895 for the Limited 4WD. Destination charges add $600.

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