From a heated steering wheel to power outlets, panoramic sunroof to AWD, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Ultimate offers a lot for a very driveable SUV.The Chrysler 300S offers a bold exterior and lots of power.The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime, shown here with its unique rear lighting, provides amazing fuel economy.

From SUVs to sedans and hybrid economy, there’s much to like in these three models

It’s always fascinating to look at the variety of vehicles that motorists select to drive based on their personal tastes, needs, and budgets. Here we look at three very usable vehicles that likely appeal to different consumer segments.

     The refreshed 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Ultimate, the top of four Santa Fe models, has a lot to offer those desiring a smaller SUV with decent cargo space (13.5 cubic feet with all seats up), all-wheel-drive, and plentiful tech features.

     Powered by a 3.3-L V-6 engine that creates 290 HP, and mated to a six-speed shiftable automatic transmission, we experienced genuine power, acceleration, and smooth shifting. We were on target for the 19 MPG overall fuel economy (17/city and 22/highway), which is slightly higher on other Santa Fe models without AWD.

     Our likes on the Santa Fe include a solid suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars, heated outside mirrors, heated and ventilated front seats, dual climate control, excellent traction and stability control systems, road-gripping 19-inch tires, parking sensors, Infinity Premium Audio with Quantum Logic Surround sound system, and navigation system projected on an eight-inch screen. On our tester, there was an Ultimate Tech Package that included Lane Departure Warning, Smart Cruise Control, Electronic Parking Brake, and more.

     As always, we found the Santa Fe to be a fun and easy unit to drive, plus with the seats down it provides amazing cargo space. Though the base Santa Fe starts about $31,000, the Limited Ultimate has a MSRP of $41,150 and with add-ons was $43,400.


2017 Chrysler 300S

     While sedan sales in the U.S. have generally slumped in recent times, there are several superb four-door units on the market, including the full-size 2017 Chrysler 300S (second level of four model offerings). We like it because it’s classy, can seat four people comfortably in an amazingly large and quiet cabin, and has 20-inch performance tires that make road driving pleasurable.

     If it’s power that’s desired, our 300S tester had a beasty 5.7-L V-8 HEMI engine that met all of our needs for performance driving and then some. With an eight-speed automatic transmission it provides a respectable 19 MPG overall (16/city and 25/highway). A 3.6-L Pentastar V-6 engine is standard.

     We liked the Uconnect 8.4 Nav System (with 8.4-inch touch screen) that provides easy to read and well-covered tech data and graphics, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Also likeable are heated front seats, all-speed traction control, LED fog and tail lamps (halogen projector head lamps), ParkView rear back-up camera, generous safety features (4-Star government overall rating), and dual-pane panoramic sunroof (an option on our tester).

     Though we had several options on our 300S tester, with a $35,675 MSRP it priced out below $41,000. It’s loaded with comfort, safety, and tech features, plus a performance suspension.


2017 Toyota Prius Prime

     While there is more to the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime than its boastful fuel economy, that is likely the decision-making issue on this hybrid plug-in for many consumers. Our tested Prime was the Advanced model, the top of three offerings.

     It’s a bit tricky to determine the fuel economy, but no matter how you view it, there is little doubt that will be disappointment. Government ratings give the Prime a 133 MPGe with gasoline and electric power and 54 MPG with gasoline only. We experienced very high electric driving mileage and 54.8 MPG operating on a road trip with just gasoline. Even after eight days of driving, it cost just $8.70 cents to fill the tank.

     Power comes from 1.8-L DOHC incline four-cylinder engine and a Hybrid Synergy Drive System. We found on either electric or gas power there was decent acceleration and we never felt underpowered.

     While the appeal for the Prius Prime revolves around using less gasoline, it is a quite usable sedan that has the Toyota Star Safety System (traction and stability control, ABS and EBS, Smart Stop Technology, and more), Toyota Safety Sense (collision warning to radar cruise control and more). Blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, 10-speaker audio system, heated outside mirrors, heated front seats, LED fog lamps, and a generous size 11.6-inch touch screen, are among its attributes.

     The Prime was comfortable and drove with ease. Our only dislikes were a small trunk/cargo space and slight issues with the navigation system. Overall, this is not only a great commuter vehicle, it is a very usable road trip car.

     Our tested Prius Prime Advanced had base price of $33,100, and with seven single options the final price was $37,430.

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.