The addition of a third-row seat is usually a valuable feature in cars designed for large families. In some vehicles, it can accommodate up to six passengers, while higher-end models can seat as many as nine, depending on their configuration.
The Hyundai Santa Fe, a mid-size SUV, offered three-row seating for models manufactured until 2019. This article will provide all the essential information about the Hyundai Santa Fe’s third-row seating.
What Model Years of Hyundai Santa Fe Have Third-Row Seating?
The Hyundai Santa Fe was first introduced as Hyundai’s inaugural SUV in 2001. The initial generation was available for purchase until 2006. Subsequently, three more generations followed, with the SUV currently in its fourth generation.
In 2012, Hyundai introduced two wheelbase options for the Santa Fe. The shorter 5-seat Sport variant had the option for either five or seven seats in certain markets. The long-wheelbase variant, known as the Santa Fe XL since 2019, provided three rows of seats, accommodating six to seven passengers.
However, the availability of third-row seating was limited to the 2019 model year. From 2020 onwards, Hyundai decided to offer only two rows of seats, accommodating five people. This change was implemented because the third-row seat in the Santa Fe did not provide sufficient legroom, according to Hyundai.
To rectify this issue, Hyundai replaced the Santa Fe XL with an entirely new model, the Hyundai Palisade. With its spacious third row and cargo area, the Palisade offers an improved seating experience compared to the Santa Fe XL.
Hyundai Santa Fe Third-Row Seating Specs
The third-generation Hyundai Santa Fe (2012-2019) provides three rows of seating space. The standard SE trim can accommodate up to seven people, while the Santa Fe XL trim can seat six individuals. The front row offers 41.3 inches of legroom, the second row provides 40.4 inches, and the third row offers 30.9 inches.
The first row has ample legroom and headroom, comfortably accommodating taller occupants. The second row is spacious and equally comfortable for taller individuals. However, the third row feels slightly cramped and is best suited for children. Most adults may find it challenging to stay comfortable, especially during long journeys. For larger families seeking more legroom, the Hyundai Palisade is a better option.
Effect of Hyundai Santa Fe Third-Row Seating on Cargo Space
The Hyundai Santa Fe does not excel in terms of offering ample legroom for rear passengers, and this affects its cargo volume as well.
When all seats are in use, the Santa Fe provides a mere 13.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row seat. However, folding the rear seats increases the cargo volume to 40.9 cubic feet, and folding both the second and third rows expands it further to 80 cubic feet. The third-row seat conveniently folds down after manipulating a few straps, similar to the middle row, which can be folded by pulling the lever on each side of the captain’s chairs.
Compared to other midsize SUVs in the same market segment, the Hyundai Santa Fe falls behind in terms of cargo space behind the third row. For instance, the two-row Santa Fe Sport offers 35.4 cubic feet behind its second row and 71.5 cubic feet when the second row is folded. This highlights how much space the third row takes away in the Santa Fe XL. On the other hand, the Hyundai Palisade provides 18 cubic feet of cargo space when all three rows are in use.
Standard Features That Come with the Hyundai Santa Fe Third-Row Seating
Inside the Hyundai Santa Fe, you can expect a quiet and comfortable environment, with minimal wind and road noise at higher speeds. The SUV combines modern styling with quality materials to ensure a pleasant experience for occupants. The base model comes with cloth upholstery, while leather upholstery is available as an option.
Additional features include second-row captain’s chairs, which reduce the seating capacity to six, as well as ventilated front seats and heated front and rear seats. The Santa Fe also offers two LATCH connectors for car seats in the second row. However, it’s worth mentioning that the tether anchors may be easily confused with other hardware, and the lower anchors are positioned too deep inside the seats. Overall, the materials used in the Santa Fe are suitable for a mid-size SUV.
Comparison Between Hyundai Santa Fe Third-Row Seating and its Competition
The Hyundai Santa Fe XL competes with various other midsize SUVs, including the Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent, Kia Sorento, and the Volkswagen Atlas. Let’s compare the legroom in the third-row seat of the Santa Fe with these competitors:
While the third-row seat in the Hyundai Santa Fe XL may not comfortably accommodate many adults, it offers more legroom than the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, and Mazda CX-9. These competitors provide less legroom in their third rows.
Models with slightly more legroom than the Santa Fe XL include the Kia Telluride at 31.4 inches, and the Kia Sorento and Subaru Ascent at 31.7 inches. The Honda Pilot follows closely at 31.9 inches, while the Chevrolet Traverse and Volkswagen Atlas excel with 33.5 and 33.7 inches of legroom, respectively. If maximum legroom is your priority, the Ford Explorer offers an additional 10 inches of legroom in its third row compared to the Santa Fe.
Hyundai Santa Fe Third-Row Seating: Is it Worth It?
The current Hyundai Santa Fe models no longer offer a third-row seat. However, if you’re interested in having one, you can still find a 2019 or earlier model that accommodates seven passengers. If you prioritize more legroom and cargo space than what the Santa Fe provides, Hyundai offers the Palisade as a suitable replacement.
Although having a seven-seater SUV may seem appealing, it’s important to consider whether you will actually make use of the third-row seating. Third-row seats can be expensive, and if they won’t be utilized regularly, it may be more practical to opt for a larger SUV like the Hyundai Palisade.
In the case of the Santa Fe, the absence of a seven-seater model is likely for the best, despite the competitive third-row seating offered by the XL version. While third-row seats can be convenient, they do come with their own set of pros and cons. Our advice is to stick with larger vehicles if you want a comfortable third-row seating experience.
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