Test Drives to Top Fives: 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe XL

We have a new segment called Test Drives to Top Fives where we film Khaled and Jay test driving new cars while driving them to Top 5 restaurants in Mississauga. Check out Jay Kana's in-depth car review and check out the video below.

Car: 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe XL
Top 5: Skyway Jacks (Top 5 Breakfast)

In a world where half of us want to down size and live compactly and the balance wants bigger, bolder, better, it's common for the two sides to sometimes intertwine. Yes, it's completely understandable to want both depending on a long list of variables. Price, lifestyle, functionality all play a role.

Take for example, the Hyundai Accent, which appears on the compact side. If you're looking for something nimble to boot around town with and be accompanied by a couple of friends, then that's an ideal chariot.

If you're in need of more square footage to haul a family and all that comes with them, then leaning towards the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe XL would be a great start. The XL is about 8.5 inches longer than the other Santa Fe offerings and can seat up to seven of your best (or at least tolerable) friends. Or your lifetime friends, also known as your family.

The Santa Fe has come a long way since its inception in 2001, where it debuted as Hyundai's first ever SUV. Today's offering sees beautiful, graceful styling, which Hyundai pegs as "Fluidic Sculpture" styling, plenty of power (290 horsepower to be exact) which is married to a Lambada II 3.3-litre GDI V6 engine. And it's a good thing too, since propelling anything with an "XL" badge on it needs some extra oomph.

In amongst a well laid out centre console and ergonomically structured design comes a slight compliant. It's really more of a request of the engineers at the South Korean brand: For the 2016 model, could you folks make the infotainment screen a bit, err, well, a bit more "XL"? Please?

There's the saying "it fits in the palm of your hand" and the infotainment screen was completely covered by the palm of my hand...plus a bit of fingers. It seemed out of place in an SUV, let alone the XL trim. Yes, there's a rear view camera but with the screen so small, I reverted back to the original camera; my eyes, which worked just fine.
I suppose I shouldn’t hit too hard on the small screen. It still conveyed the info that I needed. Even if next year the screen was a couple of inches bigger, it'd be a great feature for the two residents of the front seat.

The drive quality was smooth and maneuverability was good considering its length. With something that long, some vehicles can have a bit of back end "swing" to it and be cumbersome to steer/handle. But good ol' Hyundai has found a great balance to offer sturdy steering and a comfortable ride. Mind you, it's not as precise as a sports car but then again, it's not meant to be.



There's another term..."Make it up in volume" and to combat my feelings on the small screen, the sound system in the Santa Fe certainly does that. How? With an available 550-watt, 10 speaker Infinity Logic 7 surround sound audio system. I'd rather a great sound system opposed to a big screen, personally.

There's a lengthy list of options to choose from and even without having any "option" boxes ticked off, the Santa Fe comes dressed nicely out of the box.

With seven "XL" trims to choose from, Hyundai certainly offers depth within the lineup, all with a 6-speed automatic transmission and the aforementioned 290 HP motor. And with the exception of the entry level "XL" (Front Wheel Drive), the balance have All Wheel Drive.

A long, good looking people mover with some heft and brawn is what you'll get with the Santa Fe XL.
You'll rarely say "there's not enough room in my vehicle" or "sorry, those 19 Billy book cases from Ikea won't fit".
You will say "Yup, the Santa Fe is a great fit for the family, all of our groceries, sports gear, musical instruments and the family dog".

Or you'll say "Can you hear me all the way back there in the third row of seats?!"

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