The Hyundai Veracruz once sat in its own spot as Hyundai’s resident three-row, seven-seater SUV, one rung above the Hyundai Santa Fe->https://www.topspeed.com/cars/hyundai-santa_fe/ke1023.html]. Unfortunately, the Veracruz never quite caught on in the market despite having only been around since 2006. Sluggish sales and general indifference towards the model forced Hyundai to discontinue the Veracruz in 2012 to give way to the Grand Santa Fe, a similar three-row, seven-seater SUV that shared most of its architecture with the Santa Fe.

Unfortunately, Hyundai has yet to offer the Grand Santa Fe in the U.S. market, odd considering that the Veracruz was sold in this country during its brief existence. Canada, for what it’s worth, has the Grand Santa Fe, or as it’s called there, the Santa Fe XL. Maybe that’ll change in 2016, but Hyundai has yet to make any announcements on whether that’s going to happen.

What we do know is that a heavily camouflaged Grand Santa Fe was recently spotted doing some test sessions in Germany. These test runs on the German autobahn have intensified speculation that a facelift of the Grand Santa Fe is in the works, following a similar set of spy photos that captured the updated 2016 Santa Fe back in April 2015.

Despite the heavy camouflage on the test mule, Hyundai is unlikely to make any sweeping changes on the seven-seater SUV. In fact, if those spy photos of the 2016 Santa Fe didn’t appear to have any dramatic updates, we can expect the same kind of treatment on the 2016 Grand Santa Fe.

Continue reading to learn more about the facelifted Hyundai Grand Santa Fe.

  • 2016 Hyundai Grand Santa Fe
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • 0-60 time:
    8 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    125 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    35000 (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 Hyundai Grand Santa Fe Exterior Spyshots
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2016 Hyundai Grand Santa Fe Exterior Spyshots
- image 638487
2016 Hyundai Grand Santa Fe Exterior Spyshots
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Hyundai’s been on a model refresh binge with a lot of its models, so expect the same thing on the Grand Santa Fe. The most covered up parts of a test mule are usually the areas that contain the most changes, so judging by these spy photos, the Grand Santa Fe’s front section will receive the most significant updates. The most noticeable update is the more pronounced front bumper and the new front grille that appears to be getting a new shape altogether. Updates on the front lights are also expected, and while this particular Grand Santa Fe mule doesn’t have the daytime running lights or the fog lamps that are available on the 2015 model, expect them to make a return for 2016.

The dimensions of the 2016 Grand Santa Fe should remain the same. The 2015 Grand Santa Fe had a wheelbase of 110.3 inches and a length of 193.5 inches from bumper to bumper, almost nine inches longer than the Santa Fe’s 184.64-inch length.

Interior

2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Spyshots
- image 626331

Note: spy shot from interior of 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe shown here.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a clear picture of the Grand Santa Fe’s interior from this batch of spy photos. That said, we’ve been told that the Grand Santa Fe will receive an updated infotainment system that should be a marked improvement upon the past model. A bigger LCD display wouldn’t hurt either, would it?

The spy photos of the Santa Fe mule also point to some hints on what we can expect from the Grand Santa Fe’s interior. Since both models will likely have a similar cabin design, our observations of the repositioned buttons beneath the LCD screen and the different gear shifter setup on the Santa Fe mule could also be part of the updates list on the Grand Santa Fe.

The standard seven-seat configuration will also remain while a six-seat configuration featuring six captain’s chairs will be an option.

Drivetrain

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe High Resolution Drivetrain
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Note: Engine from 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe shown here.

The current Grand Santa Fe has a variety of engine options, including a 3.6-liter V-6 that produces 282 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque, and a 2.2-liter CRDI diesel variant that pumps out 195 horsepower and 322 pound-feet of torque. We don’t expect Hyundai to replace these two engines outright, but it’s been reported that the 2.2-liter diesel engine will see its output increase to 200 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. The current six-speed automatic transmission is also expected to return on the 2016 model.

The big news as far as engines are concerned is the introduction of a hybrid version, called the “e-4WD." The Santa Fe and the Grand Santa Fe will both get this hybrid drivetrain, which we anticipate will come in the form of a 2.4-liter GDI engine and an electric motor that powers the rear wheels.

Safety

2016 Hyundai Grand Santa Fe Exterior Spyshots
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Hyundai’s latest safety tech features will be added to the Grand Santa Fe. A combination of Autonomous Highway Safety Driving, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, and Blind Spot Detection should be in the cards.

Prices

2016 Hyundai Grand Santa Fe Exterior Spyshots
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The Hyundai Grand Santa Fe’s price should start at $34,000 to $35,000 and could go all the way up to around $48,000 for the new hybrid version. Those are merely rough estimates that take into account our own expectations on what the starting price will be for the 2016 Santa Fe and the competition’s respective price tags for their own hybrid models.

Competition

Toyota Highlander

2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid - Driven
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Note: 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid shown here.

The Hyundai Grand Santa Fe is a relatively new entrant in the seven-seater SUV segment after taking the reins from the Hyundai Veracruz. To compete in this class, the Grand Santa Fe will have to deal with the staples of this segment, including the Toyota Highlander.

The Highlander is a stalwart in its class, boasting its own improved styling and fuel economy to go with a handful of amenities that any expanding family will appreciate. The cup holder and the 120-volt power outlet for charging electronics in the second row of the cabin are particular favorites of mine.

The Highlander is available with three engine options, beginning with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 185 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The caveat here is that this engine option is only available with FWD, which kind of defeats the purpose of an SUV’s all-road capability. Fortunately, a 3.5-liter V-6 that pumps out 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque takes care of that. The Highlander also has a range-topping hybrid model that’s powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 with three electric motors, two of which are located in the front and one out back to help power the rear wheels. All together, the hybrid system produces 280 horsepower.

Pricing for the 2015 Toyota Highlander starts at $30,945, including delivery and other fees with the figures shooting all the way up to $51,520 for the Hybrid Limited Platinum trim.

Read our review of the 2014 Toyota Highlander here.

Chevrolet Traverse

2013 - 2014 Chevrolet Traverse High Resolution Exterior
- image 445823
2013 Chevrolet Traverse

Note: 2013 - 2014 Chevy Traverse shown here.

The Chevrolet Traverse doesn’t have the looks that can separate itself from a crowd of SUVs. But don’t let that stop you from considering the Traverse as a viable option in this crowded market. Like the Grand Santa Fe, the Traverse offers seating with either captain’s chairs or the more traditional bench seat configuration for the third row. The Traverse has one of the largest cargo areas in its segment with 116.3 cubic feet of capacity.

The Traverse does lack engine variety, with only a 3.6-liter V-6 at its disposal. Still, the engine produces 281 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, slightly more than the Grand Santa Fe’s V-6. Chevrolet’s also offering a dual exhaust setup as an added option, bumping the output up to 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. Eventually, Chevrolet might fit the Traverse with its own hybrid drivetrain, but for now, this SUV is all V-6 all the time.

Pricing for the 2015 Chevrolet Traverse starts at $30,995.

Read our review on the 2013 - 2014 Chevy Traverse here.

Conclusion

I have high hopes for the Hyundai Grand Santa Fe because it comes with all the things we like about its regular sibling while also addressing its limitations, namely the extra cargo space. Unless Hyundai’s hiding something ghastly under those black covers and camouflage, the Grand Santa Fe should benefit from its aesthetic updates to become more rounded in the design category.

The arrival of a hybrid version is also a boon for the Grand Santa Fe as it now has the chops to compete with other three-row SUVs boasting similar powertrains. Hyundai has not announced when the SUV will make its debut, but if it’s pegged as a 2016 model, an announcement should come in the next few months. My best guess would be the LA Auto Show in November, 2015.

  • Leave it
    • * Not a lot of new things happening in the interior
    • * A hybrid’s nice, but what about a fuel-saving four-cylinder?
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