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Family hauler with whistles, bells and safety

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

Member6122

We will be getting 2 Exchange students for a whole year. Our sedan won't cut it and I hate minivans! The Highlander seemed to address everything but it fell a little short on cargo space. The pilot doesn't have the safety features or the whistles and bells. I actually have to have a car with a heated steering wheel... a medical issue....but it knocks out any of the more "basic" SUVs. Any thoughts?

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Safety & braking / Ride smoothness / Feature availability / Rear seat room & comfort

Preferred Bodystyle(s): SUV

Car Needs: Daily commuter / Family transporter / Errands about town / Long trips / Towing or hauling

Primary Driver(s): Senior driver

Need minimum of 6 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 50000
Maximum age: 3 years

Maximum price: US $ 40000

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Response from mkaresh

8:10 pm July 13, 2014

The Hyundai Santa Fe offers a heated steering wheel, and has much more third-row legroom than the Highlander. Cargo space behind the third row is similar to the Highlander's, though.

For considerably more cargo space behind the third row and a heated steering wheel, try the Ford Explorer. It has a deep well like the Pilot's behind the third row, so it'll hold far more back there than most other large crossovers. Reliability seems a bit worse than average for recent model years, but the average is quite good these days so a little worse is still far from awful. The Explorer also feels far larger than the Santa Fe, which might or might not be an issue for you.


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Ford Explorer
Hyundai Santa Fe

Response from Member6122

8:28 pm July 13, 2014

Thank you so much! I really appreciate the response. I read your spot on minivans. You seem to like them. My issues with them really aren't styling but they feel too low. Also I feel safer in a higher position when I think of impact zones. Any thoughts on this? Who has a great warranty?

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Response from mkaresh

7:05 am July 14, 2014

Minivans aren't much lower than crossovers and tend to be very safe. You've driven one recently?

Especially tall vehicles are more likely to roll over. But most car-based crossovers aren't very tall, either.

Hyundai and Kia have the longest standard warranties, but are also the strictest in deciding whether a repair is covered. So they're more likely to deny coverage for interior trim issues.

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Response from jasonmreece

12:14 am July 16, 2014

The Hyundai Santa Fe is definitely your best bet! My best friend has a 2013 Ford Explorer (company car) and my neighbor has a 2014. Both have returned to the Ford dealer for warranty repairs multiple times and my friend's 2013 still has ongoing major issues. By most accounts, the Explorer is NOT a reliable or durable vehicle. The Hyundai is better looking, higher quality and has an exceptional warranty. If a Heated Steering Wheel is a requirement, the Santa Fe is your best choice and the best value.

There are two different Santa Fe trim levels- GLS and Limited. The Limited's base price is $3,900 higher than the GLS, but once you add the option packages required to get the heated steering wheel, the difference is only $1,200. The big difference between the two is the 2nd row seat arrangement- the GLS has a 40/20/40-split bench seat while the Limited has two captain's chairs. So the GLS is technically a 7-seater and the Limited is a 6-seater, but the Limited also has much easier access to the 3rd row and much more comfortable 2nd row seats.The only features exclusive to the Limited are Xenon HID (High-Intensity Discharge) Headlights and LED Taillights. Well worth the $1200, IMO. Also, the Limited with Technology Pkg is going to be much easier to find than a GLS with Premium & Technology Packages.

The other benefit of the Limited is more interior/exterior combination choices. The GLS has Gray or Beige interior depenind on the exterior (only the White lets you choose between Gray and Beige). In addition to Gray and Beige, the Limited offers the option of Black interior (with White or Black exterior). The Limited in White, Black or Iron Frost (Gray) also has the option of a Black interior (dash/carpet) with Saddle Brown seats. It looks like a $50k+ vehicle with the Saddle interior, IMO. =)

The Hyundai's Basic (full) Warranty covers 5yrs/60k miles, the Powertrain is covered for 10yrs/100k miles and it has Roadside Assistance for 5yrs/Unlimited miles. I also checked on depreciation and operating costs and the Santa Fe is at the head of the class on both counts! The Santa Fe also has a few features that are rare in this class- the front seats are heated AND ventilated (cooled) and the 2nd row seats are heated!

The Limited with Tech Pkg stickers for $39,525 and you should be able to buy one for around $35,500 (per KBB and TrueCar). GOOD LUCK!!!

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Hyundai Santa Fe

Response from mkaresh

7:41 am July 17, 2014

Great info, Jason. Thank you for taking the time to post this. My main concern with the Santa Fe is that it sounds like they need more luggage space behind the third row. The Explorer's reliability was iffy for the first few model years, but the latest years have been okay in our survey. The current Santa Fe also had an iffy start, but it's record improved more quickly.

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