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2004 Hyundai Santa Fe Compact SUV.

New Car Review of the 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe Compact SUV.

Description: Compact SUV
Base MSRP Range: $16,999 - $19,149
Invoice Price Range:  $15,469 - $17,447

The sport-utility vehicle from Hyundai fits in the compact class with four doors and two rows of seats for five riders.

It packs a four-cylinder or V6 engine and has FWD or optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction with the V6. The full-time AWD system employs a unique Dual Drive front differential with planetary gears plus viscous coupling and sends as much as 60 percent of the engine's muscle to front wheels and 40 percent to the rear.

Despite a car-like attitude, Hyundai's SUV looks tough like a sturdy wagon rigged for work yet it's also stylish with a bold face and shapely contours on the sides.

The cabin layout consists of bucket seats and center console in front of a bench seat for three and a bay in back measuring to 30 cubic feet for cargo and sports equipment.

Four trim levels apply to 2004 editions with a base Santa Fe, the base unit with utility package added, or GLS and LX models. The 3.5-liter V6 engine is standard on LX for 2004 and optional for GLS. The six-pack nets 173 hp and links to Hyundai's five-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission.