Hyundai Santa Fe Set for Detroit Debut
Though already on sale in Korea, an unveiling of the next U.S.-spec Hyundai Santa Fe will be at the 2006 Detroit auto show in January. Production will start at Hyundai’s new Alabama assembly plant in Spring 2006 for a Summer launch. Though details on the North American version have not been entirely laid out by Hyundai, educated guesses can be made. Exterior styling will be similar if not identical to the Korean-market version launched in November 2005.
Santa Fe Needed to Fill Hyundai American Plant
The second-generation Santa Fe is larger than the first and offers more conventional styling, a more powerful engine, and seating for seven with a fold-in-floor third row seat. These changes will help Hyundai distance Santa Fe from the new-for-2005MY Tucson small SUV in the HMA lineup and help guarantee that HMA can sell the more than 100,000 units per year needed to fill the new assembly plant. The plant has a total capacity of 300,000 units, and for now only the Santa Fe and Sonata are scheduled for assembly there.
At home, the Santa Fe updates its available convenience options with the second generation. These features are expected for the North American version as well. Along with front-, side-, and side-curtain airbags, the U.S. 2007 Santa Fe is expected to offer power adjustable pedals, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a trip computer, and active headrests for front-seat passengers. Santa Fe will also offer the heated mirrors and heated windshield of the Tucson.
Santa Fe Will Become Middle of Three Hyundai SUVs in a Couple of Years
While Santa Fe has been the king of the Hyundai SUV hill in the USA up to now (Hyundai sells a Mitsubishi Montero derivative called the Terracan in Korea), Santa Fe will become the middle model in the lineup in the next couple of years. Hyundai will be launching a more up-market SUV during the 2007 calendar year.
Despite much speculation that the second-generation Santa Fe will offer the 3.8L V6 in the new-for-2006MY Azera, Hyundai is also developing a larger SUV for later in the decade that will be outfitted with the 3.8L. Though Hyundai has confirmed the 237HP 3.3L V6 introduced in the Sonata for its new Santa Fe and may also offer updated version of the 2.7L V6 (now rated at 186HP) in the States, Hyundai may in fact not use the 3.8L for this application. The ancient 3.5L Mitsubishi-sourced V6 is being dropped. If both the 2.7L and 3.3L V6s may be offered in the States, both are likely to be mated to only automatic transmissions for this market.