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Photos: 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited

The 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe makes a valiant effort at incorporating tech, but falls short due to poor integration. In everything but fuel economy it is a practical driver.

CNET Reviews staff
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Hyundai's small SUV comes in GLS, SE, and Limited trim levels. The Limited is the only one with significant cabin tech, including an available navigation system and an Infinity stereo.
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Although much of the styling on the updated Santa Fe is pretty run-of-the-mill, the front has some nice details, such as a tight grille and interestingly angled headlights.
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The headlight casings occupy curved, narrow slits in the front bodywork of the car. As one new tech note, Hyundai includes an automatic setting for the headlights.
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The 3.3-liter V-6 produces 242 horsepower and 226 pound-feet of torque. With its displacement, we would expect it to be fairly economical, but our average fuel economy hovered around 16 mpg. A 2.7-liter V-6 comes in the low trim level GLS.
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The Santa Fe fits the small SUV mold well, seating five in the cabin and offering plenty of cargo space. Third row seating is optional, but it uses up almost all of the cargo space.
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The Santa Fe can be had in front- or all-wheel-drive configurations. The all-wheel-drive system includes a locking differential, which keeps torque distributed 50-50 percent between the front and back wheels.
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Cargo space is plentiful without the third row seating option. The middle row seats also fold down, maximizing cargo area.
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The dashboard is a hodge-podge of elements, including two-tone soft plastic, metal trim elements, and faux wood. But the fit and finish seems good.
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The steering wheel includes audio buttons on the left and cruise control on the right. We like how the buttons are molded into the steering wheel.
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We like the choice of blue backlighting for the the instrument cluster display, a theme repeated on the climate control screen. The gauges are also nicely designed.
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With the 3.3-liter engine in the Limited and SE trims comes a five speed automatic with a manual shift mode. The low-end GLS gets either a five speed manual or a four speed automatic.
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We like the design of the climate controls. The navigation and entertainment unit aren't well-integrated with the car, though. The unit is fitted into a double-DIN hole in the center stack, something that could easily be done with an aftermarket unit.
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This screen shows the destination entry options, which are more limited than with other systems. But it does have the basics, and even includes a telephone look-up.
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Music sources are very limited in the Santa Fe. You can put CDs into this single disc player behind the LCD or listen to the radio. There is no auxiliary input.
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Although you can't bring in your own MP3 player, the Santa Fe does offer XM satellite radio. We found the interface attractive and workable.
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The single disc player reads MP3 CDs, and lets you select music by folder, as shown on this screen.
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The audio settings are fairly typical, with a three-band equalizer along with fader and balance controls. But the system also offers Surround Sound.
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The Santa Fe Limited includes an impressive Infinity audio system, with 650 watts of amplification and 10 speakers, including a centerfill and subwoofer. The sound quality is very good, although we did hear significant rattle with heavy bass tracks.

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