The Hyundai Santa Fe has sold one million units in the U.S. since it launched in 2000, a major milestone for Hyundai's popular crossover.
The Korean automaker attributes the success of the Hyundai Santa Fe to helping change Hyundai's reputation in the U.S. market. Before the Santa Fe, Hyundai was known only for selling cheap economy cars. The company made the decision to follow the lead of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 in creating a compact crossover -- before the segment was even a popular one. The decision clearly was a success.
"It was a bold move that paid off and helped position Hyundai as a brand that could innovate in design and packaging, not just value and warranty," Hyundai CEO John Krafcik said in a statement. "For many loyal Hyundai owners today, [the Santa Fe] was their entry point to the brand."
The 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe launched with a 149-hp, 2.4-liter inline-four and a 181-hp, 2.7-liter V-6 engine, a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, and front- or all-wheel drive. Upgrades later in the crossover's lifetime included the addition of a 3.5-liter V-6 and a mild face-lift.
The 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe heralded the second generation of the crossover. It boasted a fresh new design and a choice between a 185-hp, 2.7-liter V-6 and a 242-hp, 3.3-liter V-6 engine, along with a five-speed manual and both four- and five-speed automatics.
The third generation crossover bowed as the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe, and it was split into two different models. The Santa Fe Sport is a short-wheelbase, two-row model, whereas the Hyundai Santa Fe has a longer wheelbase and can seat seven. Hyundai says the move broadens the model's appeal and makes it applicable to buyers who are pre-family, have a family, and post-family. The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is offered with a 290-hp, 3.3-liter V-6, a six-speed automatic transmission, and front- or all-wheel drive. The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport boasts a 190-hp, 2.4-liter inline-four and a 264-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-four engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and front- or all-wheel drive.
Hyundai Santa Fe annual sales peaked in 2004 at 111,447 units, after hitting 101,278 sales in 2003. Since then, the crossover's sales tally has hovered around the 70,000 mark. So far this year, Hyundai Santa Fe sales are up 22 percent compared to the first seven months of 2012.