2010 Hyundai Santa Fe review by

Compact crossovers are hot for good reasons: They provide great functional space, a higher riding position, decent gas mileage and a few truck-like characteristics without all of that pesky truckiness.

Most have smooth car-like rides out on the road due to their unibody construction, and there are plenty for consumers to choose from: the Ford Escape, the Honda CR-V, the Toyota Rav4, to name a few.

Some, like the Escape and Jeep Patriot, lean toward an SUV; others, like the CR-V and Nissan Rogue, feel more like a car.

The 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe falls somewhere in between, and not in any of the good ways. It was refreshed for the 2010 model year and will be replaced in the coming year or so. Good.

First, the Santa Fe is just homely looking. It's as if Hyundai was trying out a few design languages at the same time. The front end is curvy and round, while the back end grows bigger — a product of that rising belt line and flared fenders. Its proportions look off-balance.

Hyundai has put out some striking vehicles recently, and those cars, namely the Elantra and Sonata, make the Santa Fe look so unimpressively normal. It may not be entirely fair to draw that comparison, but who wants to catch a glimpse of HDTV and then go back to black-and-white?

Not everything is bad on this vehicle. The lines of sight are good all the way around — one of the benefits of a compact crossover.

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