The previous Santa Fe was a methodical improvement over its predecessor; one that sprinkled necessary additional dynamic and visual dressing over what was, in essence, a versatile, practical family car. A similar tranche of considered, incremental changes have, by and large, been applied here.
This is a car that’s more attractive, more practical, better-appointed and more refined than what went before, and that still has a likeably simple and direct positioning among its rivals. But it’s regrettable that Hyundai’s efforts to overhaul the ride and handling haven’t been as successful as those put in by its designers. Ride comfort has plainly been sacrificed for little apparent gain on handling composure, body control or drivability; and there’s a distinct sense of brittleness about the car’s low-speed ride that is quite unwelcome.
Spacious, well-priced and generously equipped, the Santa Fe has plenty of bases covered and should retain a loyal, satisfied, rational following. But the sense that it needed to make greater strides to gain ground in a crowded European SUV market is unmistakable.