We’ve been driving and comparing cars for months now: the Honda CRV, the Acura RDX, and even the Lexus Hybrid. Until Consumer Reports rhapsodized over the new Hyundai SUV’s in last month’s issue, we had never even considered the Santa Fe. After a friend tipped us off to the friendliness and flexibility of the local Hyundai dealer, we decided to go drive one for ourselves.
On the lot, we found a dark cherry red Santa Fe with every option we wanted: sun roof, XM satellite radio, and the all-important environmental controls with separate thermostats for the driver and passenger. On the test drive, we were surprised by the silence, solid build, and elegant interior … but the warranty and zero percent financing for 38 months proved to be the icing on the cake.
So: my beloved Saturn VUE — a good car — was converted into a bag full of cash for the down payment … and the Santa Fe sits in our parking space here at the house. Last night, we added the last feature it needed — the Garmin Nuvi 360 navigation system, with Bluetooth handsfree calling and phone control built in.
(As yet, Hyundai doesn’t offer built-in navigation … and, frankly, that’s fine with me. I’ve now worked with the navigation systems on the Honda, the Mitsubishi, and the Lexus vehicles, and I’m not very impressed with any of them. Their user interface is too complex, their maps are hard to read, and their use of voice recognition remains more of a gimmick than a feature. By contrast, the Garmin systems are simple to use, easy to read, and, in our experience, best of class.)
I’m headed back to the dealer this morning for some detailing and my free tank of gas — we struck our deal after those departments went home, and this weekend, we’ll be taking the Santa Fe on its maiden voyage to Atlanta.