The 2005 Santa Fe gets new exterior styling to its grille, taillights, oversized bumpers, and body cladding. Internally, the dash has been reworked. The GLS is powered either by a 2.7-liter, 170-hp V6 and 4-speed auto tran or an optional 3.5-liter, 200-hp V6 with 5-speed automatic, which is standard in the LX. The LX is obviously the more luxury-oriented of the two, with heated leather seats, a CD changer, and a new power driver's seat this year. A sunroof is optional on both trims. The 2005 Santa Fe excels in crash test, earning four and five stars. It comes standard with dual front and side airbags, and this year ABS brakes and traction control have been added.
Rear seats fold down to expand the 30 cubic-foot cargo area to 78 cubic feet, but owners complain that the rear seats do not fold flat and it is cumbersome to remove the headrests before folding. A roof rack is also standard, for more cargo flexibility. Though a compact SUV, the 2005 Santa Fe gets so-so fuel economy, and drivers wish it had more power and more legroom. Seat comfort on long trips is disappointing. On the upside, the Santa Fe is stylish, roomy, and handles easily like a car. Owners also like the safety and reliability of the SUV.
Santa Fe was designed to have a softer, more subdued visage than the rugged facade prevalent on other SUVs. Nevertheless, contrasting body cladding, bumpers, and restyled front grille give the 2005 Santa Fe a no-nonsense appearance of being able to cope with underbrush and tree limbs out on the trail.