By Kelly Foss
Hyundai Santa Fe | STARTING PRICE: $25,000
The current-generation Santa Fe was introduced back in 2013, which means it has reached the mid-cycle point. Recent touch-ups and refinements keep it fresh and updated.
This Hyundai crossover is good looking, comfortable and easy to drive. It sits nicely perched among its competitors, including the Ford Explorer, Mazda CX -9 and the Honda Pilot. Perhaps the best thing going for it is its price, which is lower than most of its competitors, when you compare them side-by-side. A fully loaded Limited with all-wheel drive tops out at about $41,000, as compared to a Ford Explorer, which can exceed $50,000 with options.
The larger Santa Fe features seating for six or seven, with a third row that isn’t entirely too small. Larger adults might feel cramped, but for a quick trip out to dinner, the third row could come in quite handy. If you only need seating for five, the smaller Santa Fe sport model will do just fine. Starting price on the shorter Santa Fe Sport is about $25,000 and on the longer Santa Fe about $30,000.
If you do you opt for the larger Santa Fe, you’ll get the 290-horsepower, 3.3-liter V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain is more than ample, accelerating at a brisk pace. EPA fuel economy is rated at 18/25 mpg. Front wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel-drive is optional. Hyundai made some calibrations and gave the electric power steering system a faster processor for enhanced steering. You can switch between comfort, normal and sport mode to adjust steering feel. The suspension was also given minor tweaks to increase body control in the corners. You may not notice these changes on your day-to-day drive, but you will appreciate them on longer road trips.
Driving the Santa Fe is easy. The ride is comfortable – not too soft and not too trucky. Acceleration is responsive, although at times it seems to be looking for the right gear, which can affect fuel economy. It does come equipped with a standard towing package, allowing the Santa Fe to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
The Santa Fe’s cabin feels modern and comfortable and features are abundant. The Limited comes with standard features, such as 19-inch wheels and second row captain’s chairs, among other things. Tack on the $4,650 Ultimate Package, and you get a panoramic sunroof and eight-inch center screen with navigation, and a 12-speaker Infinity stereo. Ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel and HID headlights are also part of the package. When you fold down the second and third row seats, you end up with 80 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s more space than either the Toyota Highlander or the Dodge Durango.
With safety features like lane change assist and blind spot detection, the Santa Fe definitely stands out in its category. Good looks, moderate pricing and excellent handling make this vehicle tough competition.
Audi A5 Coupe | STARTING PRICE: $40,000
A lot of choices exist when it comes to luxury sport coupes. Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Lexus and Mercedes all have their own versions, which mean the competition is fierce. That’s good news, however, for car buyers in this particular segment. Coupes evoke a certain emotion out of enthusiasts and admirers alike, and the A5 certainly doesn’t disappoint. The Audi A5 Coupe is the embodiment of a classic sports car: long nose, short rear deck, clean interior and easy handling. Add to that Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system, making it sure-footed and confident on all road surfaces, including ice, and you’ve got yourself one fine automobile.
The Audi A5 is an excellent example of striking a balance between luxury, performance and everyday functionality. A turbo-charged 2.0-liter engine mated to either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic yields 220 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 22 city/32 highway for a combined average of 26 mpg. Some reviewers have claimed that the 4-cylinder feels underpowered at times, but there is always the S5 if you’re looking for more serious speed. For the rest of us, this engine under daily driving circumstances offers plenty of pep.
The A5 has zip and handles itself nimbly through city traffic, and you’ll notice plenty of people who stop and stare as you go by. It definitely holds its own on the freeway, while the cabin remains solidly quiet at higher speeds. Driver feedback feels crisp while the suspension maintains a firm but comfortable feel. And knowing that the car is outfitted with Audi’s famed Quattro all-wheel-drive system, you gain confidence knowing this car can tackle most driving situations all year long. Factor in the 26 combined mpg, and that’s another excellent example of balancing practicality with luxury.
The vehicle’s interior reflects the exterior with clean, fluid lines. The seats are comfortable, offering plenty of support, even after a longer drive. Striking a balance between luxury and functionality, the A5’s instrument panel is clean and easy to read, leaning more towards a sporty look. The base model comes with plenty of features, including tri-zone climate control, leather, Bluetooth connectivity and a 6.5-inch screen with multi-media interface. There are a couple of options packages that will upgrade the sound system and add sportier exterior trim and adaptive headlights. With larger wheels, you’ve really got a sporty- looking vehicle.
The sweeping roofline does cost your rear passengers some headroom. Fortunately, the rear seats fold down, adding a bit of utility to this German luxury coupe.
In the tightly competitive segment of luxury sport coupes, where bells and whistles abound, where everyone is vying for your attention, the Audi A5 is the voice of reason. It walks the line between function and luxury with enough power, enough sportiness and enough of the things that make this sport coupe the one to beat.
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Category: New Automobiles