Santa Fe: A Million and Counting

Gary S. Vasilash

Last week Hyundai announced that it had sold its millionth Santa Fe in the U.S.

“When the 2001 Santa Fe launched in the United States 13 years ago,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, “not only was it Hyundai’s first SUV, but it was one of the first compact crossovers on the market—just behind Toyota RAV4 and Honda CRV.

He added, “It was a bold move that paid off and helped position Hyundai as a brand that could innovate in design and package, not just value and warranty.”

This is the original Santa Fe:

Santa Fe MY 2001

We’re not so sure about describing it as a “bold move,” nor as something that proved the company “could innovate in design and package.”

Of course, more than a decade ago, that actually might have looked engaging. Might have.

This is the current Santa Fe:

Santa Fe MY 2013

Chances are, 13 years from now it will still look somewhat more contemporary than its predecessor.

The earlier version was exclusively built in Korea. The present version is being assembled, almost exclusively, in West Point, Georgia, along with its corporate sibling, the Kia Sorento. Previously, the Santa Fe was produced in the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Plant in Montgomery, Alabama, but the demand for the Hyundai Sonata and Elantra are so great, the CUV production was moved.

Incidentally: here are the Sonata and the Elantra models from the year that the Santa Fe was launched:

2001 Sonata

2001 Elantra

Here they are today:

2013 Sonata

2013 Elantra

That is what “innovate in design and package” really means.