Test Drive: Hyundai Santa Fe Is For The Dogs

Editor's Note: This story ran in a previous edition. 

OMAHA, Nebraska  — Hyundai Motor North America is for the dogs -- or is that going to the dogs? 

In any case, the automaker is one of several that loaned a team of automotive journalists (including yours truly) vehicles to drive a dozen rescue dogs across the country from Omaha to the Pacific Northwest.

I am writing this from the passenger seat of the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe. Having driven the vehicle over 730 miles from Detroit to Omaha to bring the vehicle to the start of the transport, I have already had plenty of time in the very comfortable (and heated!) driver’s seat.  

The original Santa Fe was Hyundai’s first SUV in the U.S. more than two decades ago. Alas, as good as it is, this is the end of the line for this generation of the Santa Fe. The automaker announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show that the next version of the vehicle will go on sale in the spring. 

The new, longer wheelbase incorporates standard third-row seating and spacious interior. One of its features is a wider liftgate. Once exclusively a storage space, it now expands its use to a terrace-like function to effortlessly enjoy the outdoor environment surrounding the vehicle. 

The current liftgate was plenty adequate to fit two medium dog crates. The rear seats fold perfectly flat -- a huge boon when transporting dog crates, and something the canine passengers appreciated during the transport. 

The project is called Operation Frodo 1650, a project of Animal Rescue Rigs, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that builds dedicated animal transport vehicles to donate to rescues nationwide. The name Frodo comes from the first dog saved in the inaugural operation in 2022, and 1650 represents the approximate distance in miles from Omaha, Nebraska, to Portland, Oregon. 

The dogs came from Basset and Beagle Rescue of the Heartland in Omaha, Nebraska, where a surplus of dogs are waiting for homes. The destination is Cascade Beagle Rescue and Seattle Beagle Rescue in the Pacific Northwest, where foster and adoptive homes are waiting to give these dogs their forever homes and families. 

Individuals or businesses who wish to support the effort can donate through the Animal Rescue Rigs website.

The vehicles to transport the dogs are provided by Ford, Hyundai, Nissan, and Subaru, along with additional funding and vehicle support from Infiniti, Drive Shop and Honda to cover the trip's costs. 

Other vehicles on loan to Operation Frodo include a 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Sport, a 2024 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition and a 2024 Ford Expedition. Big kudos to the automakers for stepping up for this worthy cause. 

2 comments about "Test Drive: Hyundai Santa Fe Is For The Dogs".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Virginia Pancoe from El Toro IP Targeting, January 2, 2024 at 11:41 a.m.

    Rear seats folding perfectly flat in an SUV is my #1 metric as I shop for a new car. Note to dealer and brands --please include pictures of the cargo area with rear seats down in online marketing !!  I have an 09 Ford Escape Hybrid - 92K miles. Prefer a small 5P SUV so Santa Fe is bigger than I want. Hoping more Hybrids / PHEV have flat cargo areas in 24 or 25. The Volvo x60 folds flat, but trying to stay under 60K all in. 

  2. Tanya Gazdik from MediaPost replied, January 9, 2024 at 3:53 p.m.

    Hi Virginia, thanks for reading and for the comment. Checking how flat the rear seats fold is literally the first thing I do in every single model I test drive, so I'm with you! I'll keep searching and will keep you posted. 

Next story loading loading..