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You’ve Got a Dream Called Santa Fe: Review of the 2014-2015 Hyundai Santa Fe

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 11.27.46 AMWe’re currently a one-car family, so anytime CarseatBlog asks if I’d like to review a vehicle, my response is always an emphatic, “Well duh!” It’s nice having an extra car for a week, but it’s even nicer when I wind up really liking the car…although that also makes it hard to say good-bye when my time is up.

I recently had the pleasure of driving a 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe, and I have to say: I fell in love with it. And I really didn’t want to part with it, but I gave it back because I have a clean record and would like to keep it that way.  Hyundai confirms that there are no significant changes for the 2015 Santa Fe, other than some minor marketing changes to various options packages.

Now, I’ll admit that I might not be that hard to impress when it comes to cars. Like I said, we’re a one-car family, and the one car we have is pretty basic (a 2010 Honda Odyssey with no frills). I’m like a love-starved teenager who falls for any boy who gives her attention, only replace “love-starved teenager” with “harried mom,” replace “boy” with “car,” and replace “gives her attention” with “has a blind-spot detection system.” But it’s different with the Santa Fe. I really, really love it. We’re soul-mates, I swear.

Perhaps I’m being a bit hyperbolic, but there really is a lot to like.

The Santa Fe I drove was a six-passenger model with two seats each of three rows. There is also an available seven-passenger model with a bench seat instead of captain’s chairs in the second row. At first I thought I might have liked that more, but the six-passenger model turned out to be great for us. My oldest child could easily walk between the captain’s chairs to get to the third row, and he likes having his own space. You can also access the third row thusly:

The first thing I noticed about the Santa Fe was how sleek it looked on the outside. Like a lot of SUVs these days, it looks more aerodynamic than boxy. When the rep opened the door, I was a little startled to see a brown interior paired with the silver exterior. I actually thought it was an ugly combination, but I wasn’t about to complain.

When I got in to take it for a spin, I started it using the keyless ignition and it played me a little song. I’m sure after a while I’d stop noticing that (and it might even get annoying) but I got a kick out of it during my week with the Santa Fe. It made me kind of happy to have a musical greeting played. (It also plays a little good-bye tune when you turn it off.)

IMG_0128Pairing my phone via bluetooth took less than a minute, and then I was good to go. I couldn’t resist opening the panoramic sunroof. I’m not generally a sunroof kind of person, but opening that baby up made it feel almost like being in a convertible.

Maybe it’s because I drive a boring minivan, but the Santa Fe felt like a sporty, agile car in terms of drive and handling. It had good pep, lots of zip, and zoomed around turns effortlessly. There are actually three different drive modes you can choose from (Normal, Sport, and Comfort). Sport makes the steering a little stiffer, while Comfort requires the least effort. I didn’t notice much difference between Comfort and Normal, though Sport did take just a little more effort. After I played with all three modes, I left it in Normal. Given more time and more driving situations I might have played with those options more, but I’m not picky about such things.

The model I had came with a backup camera and parking sensors, which are hugely important to a person like me who isn’t very good at parking. It was especially handy when I drove it into Chicago and needed to parallel park.

The best feature, though, is the blind-spot detection system. At first I didn’t even realize it was equipped (I, uh, didn’t read the manual before I started driving), but on my way back from Chicago I noticed a little thingy lighting up in my sideview mirror. I realized it was an indicator letting me know as soon as a car on either side approached the back of the car, and it would stay lit until the other car had passed the front window. If I put on my turn signal (in the direction of the passing car) during that time, a beep will sound, letting me know it wasn’t yet safe to change lanes. Blind spots always make me nervous, so I absolutely adored that feature.  Also included with this feature are rear cross-traffic and lane departure alerts.  It is standard on Limited trim and a $3500 option in the Premium Package for GLS trim.IMG_0171

Other nice features on my model included heated front and second-row seats, heated mirror, navigation, dual climate-control zones, and a communication system that allows you to get directions, send text messages by voice, and request roadside assistance.

Although the Santa Fe didn’t provide as much storage space as my Odyssey does, it was sufficient for what I needed. I would have had a lot more room without the third row in use but even with it occupied, we were ok. It was a little tight, but I could fit my stroller (a Baby Jogger City Mini) and my daughter’s dance bag in behind the third row. With half of the third row folded down, I was able to transport a few extra car seats.

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The center console is spacious and well laid-out (unlike a certain minivan I might drive) and I loved that there was a space perfect for holding a cell phone right by the power outlet.

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Gas milage is 20 mpg (18 city, 24 highway) which is about what I’d expect from a midsize SUV. The 2014 Santa Fe still hasn’t been crash-tested by NHTSA, but IIHS gives it its best rating of “good” in four categories: front-moderate overlap, side, roof strength, and head restraints & seats. It has not yet been tested in the small-overlap category. The fully-loaded Limited model I drove has a sticker price of just over $41,000, but the base model starts just under $30,000.  You can get a 7-passenger 2WD GLS trim with all the safety goodies, leather seats, power liftgate, dual zone climate control with CleanAir Ionizer, side window sunshades and a few other Premium Package options for about $34,000 MSRP, or a street price of about $31K.

Here is Darren’s quick video review to give you an overview. Continue down below to read about how car seats install in the Santa Fe.

Car Seats

If you’re reading this blog, you probably want to know how the Santa Fe does with car seats. Turns out: Very well.

Mind Your Business: Car Seat Company News

There’s some big news in the car-seat-business world.

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First, Evenflo and Cybex have been acquired by Goodbaby, a China-based juvenile products company. Goodbaby says that acquiring these two companies will help it expand its market, with Cybex providing high-end products and Evenflo appealing to the mid- to “value-range” segment. You can read more about the Cybex acquisition here, and the Evenflo acquisition hereScreen Shot 2014-06-24 at 3.02.55 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 3.03.16 PMBalancing things out, Dorel is working on acquiring the Lerado Group, one of China’s largest juvenile-product manufacturers. This move will give Dorel its first company-owned factories in Asia, with three facilities in China and a fourth in Taiwan. Also included is a crash-test laboratory similar to ones Dorel already has in the US and Europe. You can read more about this transaction here.

It’s interesting to note that various other car seat manufacturers use Lerado Group facilities to produce their products in China.  It is unclear if this means that some manufacturers will be unlikely to continue using them once Dorel takes over.

Tomorrow’s Drivers, Yesterday

IMG_0342Recently I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time watching instructional videos from the 1940s and 1950s. I’ve learned skills such as how to settle conflicts, how to be popular, and how to ask someone out on a date (which I can’t do, since I’m not male). Videos like these rank high on the nostalgia scale, but by today’s standards most of them are quaint and a bit silly, and sometimes even offensive.

This video, though, is truly awesome in terms of both content and throwback value.

Apparently in the 1950s, elementary schools in Phoenix decided to start driver’s education early. Really early. This video shows kindergarteners playing a musical-chairs-type game while holding cardboard steering wheels. As the years progress, they receive more instruction until they’re able to drive Power Wheels-esque (but way cooler) vehicles in a little “town,” and get traffic citations for breaking the rules.

Today there are bike rodeos and “safety towns” that teach similar concepts for cycling, but parents usually have to pursue these on their own, and they’re typically a one-time thing, not a curriculum that’s reinforced throughout several years of school.

The best part of this video is the “Attitude Court” that teens had to attend to earn back a suspended license. In addition to covering citizenship issues, the Attitude School held scientific demonstrations explaining aspects of safe driving. The attendees had to pass written tests and participate in a ride-along with a police officer before their licenses would be returned.

Yes, there is the standard cringe-inducing lack of seatbelts, but such was the era. We can’t expect them to have gotten everything right. But did I mention the film is narrated by Jimmy Stewart?

Take a few minutes and watch this, then go teach your kids hand signals if they don’t already know them.

Review: Cybex Solution Q-Fix. Is this the Fix you’ve been looking for?

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Whenever we go to conferences or trade shows, there’s always a lot to drool over at the Cybex booth. Their offerings always look sleek, incorporate innovative features, and show great attention to detail. When we saw the Cybex Solution Q-Fix booster at the ABC Expo last fall, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on one.

Specifications/Features:

  • For use with children 3 years or older
  • 33-110 lbs, 38-60 inches tall
  • Highback only (cannot be used as a backless booster)
  • Three-position reclining headrest
  • Height and width adjustable (shoulder width expands as seat height is raised)
  • Linear Side-Impact protection features (see below)
  • Thick energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Rigid lower LATCH anchor attachments
  • 7 year lifespan

Specs for high-back boosters typically don’t vary a whole lot, but one thing that makes the Q-Fix stand out is the 60″ height limit. Many boosters cap their height limit at 57″ (4’9″) but some kids still need a bit of a boost beyond that point, so it’s nice to have an option that doesn’t require a parent to ignore manufacturer instructions. Those last few inches can make a big difference!

The Q-Fix is currently available in 5 fashions: Charcoal, Autumn Gold, Ocean, Storm Cloud & Lollipop.

 

Solution Q-Fix Measurements:

  • Lowest belt guide height: 14″
  • Highest belt guide height: 21″
  • Overall seat height: 31″
  • External width, back of base: 13″
  • External width at armrests: 18″
  • External width at widest point: 20-22″
  • Internal width at shoulders: 14-15″
  • Seating depth: 13″
  • Weight: 17 lbs.

The other features that really set the Q-Fix apart from competitors are the side impact protection and reclining headrest.

The Q-Fix looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, in part because of the massive wings and things toward the top. Besides the impressive head and shoulder wings, the Q-Fix also has Linear Side Protection bolsters that attach to the outside of the seat. In a side impact, these bolsters can help absorb crash forces. The bolsters come separate in the box, but they’re easy to snap into place.

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The head and shoulder wings are lined with thick EPS foam to help absorb energy, too.

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The reclining headrest is a great feature, especially for kids who tend to fall asleep in the car. To move the headrest into any of the three positions (upright, reclined, and in-between), simply pull up and move the headrest forward or backward. Besides adding comfort for the child, the headrest actually serves a safety benefit, too. A child whose head bobs forward is at greater risk of injury and won’t benefit from the side-impact protection. Being able to rest their heads backward to sleep encourages them to stay in position.

The recline amount isn’t huge, but it should make a difference for kids who are, say, reading versus napping. Below you can see the most upright and most relined positions from above and from the side.

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Another neat thing about the Solution Q-Fix is that the seat adjusts outward as you adjust it higher, allowing for more shoulder room for bigger, taller kids.

The ability to use lower LATCH anchors has become a big selling point for parents in the market for booster seats. LATCHing boosters keeps them from becoming projectiles when unoccupied, and it might also provide some safety benefits. The Q-Fix features rigid LATCH (meaning no straps to pull) but its use is optional.

It should be noted that although the Q-Fix comes apart, it is only meant to be used as a high-back booster, never as a backless booster.

How to Go Places

Summer is here, and for many people that means road trips with the family!

In this day and age of minivans and large SUVs, packing up the car isn’t usually an issue. Navigation systems and smart phones mean people hardly ever get lost, at least not for long. But what was it like in the 1950s?

In 1954 Chevrolet produced a video with an appropriately kitschy title, “How to Go Places,” that gave useful tips on taking road trips. If you want to take your next trip ’50s-style, mark up that map, and don’t rely on strangers for directions!

Bonus: You’ll learn how this family fit three-across in the back seat. (Hint: It doesn’t involve child restraints! Or seatbelts!)

Sit back and enjoy the ride.