The run of new Hyundai models that pushed the company into a true competitor to Japan's best ends with this: an all-new version of the Santa Fe that sheds nearly 300 lbs. from the previous model -- and spawns a three-row version to let Hyundai compete for one group of customers it hadn't won over yet.
Soft-roading crossovers have become the family haulers of choice, and the new Santa Fe offers enough improvements to stay current with the surge of revamped competitors. The five-passenger version now goes under the name Santa Fe Sport, while the three-row version will get a LWB (long wheelbase) label. Both benefit from a diet Hyundai put the chassis on, using lighter yet stiffer varieties of steel and other tricks to shave 266 lbs. from a Santa Fe Sport, leaving it 561 lbs. lighter than a Ford Edge.
That lets Hyundai use smaller engines -- reserving the 3.3-liter V6 for only the LWB model -- and trumpet that the Santa Fe either beats or meets the best fuel economy among competitors, hitting 26 mpg combined. The 2-liter turbo develops 264 hp in the Sport, while the V6 churns out 290 hp in the LWB -- also tops in the class.
The Sante Fe Sport arrives this summer, while the larger Santa Fe won't hit these shores until next January.