Going & Stopping

The Santa Fe is offered with a choice of two V-6 engines. The base GLS has a 2.7-liter V-6 while the midlevel SE and top-of-the-line Limited — the trim level I tested — feature a larger 3.3-liter V-6. A five-speed manual transmission is standard in the GLS, but a four-speed automatic is optional. The SE and Limited have a five-speed automatic. Front- and all-wheel-drive models are offered.

With the 3.3-liter V-6, the Santa Fe is swift enough to easily handle most drivers' power needs. It's a rather smooth engine, too. Whether it's accelerating hard when merging onto the highway or just making its way through traffic, the five-speed automatic transmission always seems to be in a sensible gear for conditions. Shifts are smooth, even those that occur under full-throttle acceleration. Both automatics include Hyundai's Shiftronic clutchless-manual mode that gives the driver control over gear changes.

The Santa Fe's all-disc brakes have no trouble stopping the SUV, and pedal feel is nice and natural.

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