Car reviews are supposed to be helpful. Car companies give auto writers (including Complex Rides employees) cars for anywhere between 1-10 days, the writers drive the cars, then the writers give you words about things like steering feel, gear ratios, and design elements. From one angle, this can be extremely useful, as those writers are experts and know what to look for in what makes a car good or bad. However, from another angle, that those writers can, at times, go a bit beyond what the normal person would look for, and what would make a normal person happy or upset with a car. Not all people want Miatas and wagons and hot hatches, after all.
So we decided to flip the script a bit and have one of Complex's non-car writers a chance to drive a car and write about his thoughts. That person is Ross Scarano, a deputy editor who focuses on Pop Culture and is the host from that Netflix show your significant other was talking about last Tuesday. This is his regular dude car review of the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe LIMITED.
Have you ever imagined driving in an aquarium?
Depending on how your brain works, you are either imagining driving underwater in some kind of automobile-submersible hybrid, or you’re imagining sitting inside a 20,000-gallon aquarium with wheels and a stick shift. Or you’re calmly putting your hands up, palms out, and saying, Nah, I’m cool, I don’t smoke dust.
Because of the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe LIMITED, you don’t have to do any imagining or declining of hallucinogens to get on board with this experience. You just drive.
First, know that the 2014 Sante Fe seats six across three rows—two in the front, two captain’s chairs in the center (like in a minivan but with swagu), and two in the back—meaning this is a long vehicle. When first getting into the vehicle, you’ll notice that the inside is sun drenched. There’s light everywhere, and the reason is the enormous sunroof that runs nearly the length of the vehicle. This is where the aquarium sensation comes from. This isn’t an SUV, so much as it's the cover of Billy Joel’s seventh studio album Glass Houses having a dream about being an SUV. And you get to be Billy Joel every time you drive.
During my brief weekend with Santa Fe, which I nicknamed the Downeaster Alexa, I was never anything but amazed with the sunroof. How much glass was necessary for its crafting? How sturdy must it have been to support the weight of an entire human being? (I piloted the vehicle to a friend’s “hillbilly spirit weekend” Memorial Day party at his parents’ home in the middle of Pennsylvania. If you know anything about what happens in PA between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, you will be surprised by nothing.)
The other features of the Sante Fe LIMITED are many and deserve mentioning as well. Vehicles are so much safer now than in my day. [Ed. Note—The writer is 27 years old and he needs to chill.] When you’re traveling on a multi-lane road or highway and you put on your turn signal to change lanes, the vehicle makes a loud beeping sound if someone is in the lane you’re trying to move into, thus alerting you to the danger. Even if your turn signal isn’t on, the respective side mirror will still blink yellow if someone is passing the vehicle on either side. At one point, a car to my left was completely in my blind spot, but still I knew there was something there because of the light. In unforgiving territory, like the mile leading up to a New Jersey rest stop, this kind of information is invaluable.
If you’re worried about the sun, the windows for the captain’s chairs come equipped with roll down sunscreens. Somehow technology has come so far that not only do those seats have built-in warmers, they also have coolers. The future!
As far as handling and V6 power, the vehicle handles roads and has V6 power. It accelerated smoothly and responded to the steering wheel when I moved it. That’s what I require from a car, truck, SUV—you name it. The fuel tank is on the driver’s side. I feel like there should be more notification given about things like that.
Would I recommend people drive this vehicle? Yes.
Would I advise potential drivers that they might become too accustomed to the sunroof and that subsequent sunroof-less vehicles might not satisfy? You bet.
What music sounded best in the vehicle? Drake, “Draft Day.”
What music sounded worst? A German pop punk song my girlfriend played (but that had nothing to do with the vehicle’s admittedly great sound system and everything to do with German pop punk.
What was the most harrowing part of your car experience?Trying to determine which side of the vehicle housed the gas tank without exiting the vehicle.
What was the happiest part of your car experience? Driving around Flushing, Queens and not hitting any pedestrians.
Ross is only a regular dude when it comes to the auto world. Follow his otherwise exciting New York City lifestyle on Twitter.