2004 Santa Fe Review

July 8, 2023
David Sunnyside

The 2004 santa fe was one of Hyundai’s first forays into the world of compact SUVs and is a strong competitor to the Ford Escape, Mazda Tribute, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Hyundai’s styling was intended to be softer than the demi-brute jut-jawed facades of some of its rivals but it has held up well over time and looks poised and ready.

The base model offered front-wheel drive and a 2.4 L four-cylinder engine. An upgraded GLS variant added a more powerful 2.7 V6 and front-wheel drive, while the Limited got a standard seven-passenger seating configuration and a 1050-watt Infinity sound system. There was also a package that included cruise control, a rear-window wiper-washer and a cargo convenience net plus first aid kit (with sunscreen, poison ivy balm and bandages).

Hyundai made no bones about the Santa Fe being a suburban runabout rather than an off-roader; owners will be pleasantly surprised at just how competent it is in the sort of dirt that would see most other SUVs struggling. The permanent 4x4 system worked like most of its rivals with drive sent to the front wheels until slip was detected and power then diverted to the rears – there were no high or low ratios and no diff locks.

A few minor tweaks were carried out for the 2003 Santa Fe, with blue-lit dashboard controls added to the GL model, gated shifter pattern and illuminated cup holders being included on the Limited, while the rear seat head restraints were redesigned to be ‘shingled’ and sit flush with the top of the seat to improve rear visibility. Owners were pleased to find that fuel economy was improved by up to 11 percent over the previous year with a combined MPG of 27.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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