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Hyundai Santa Fe Third Row Seating: What To Know

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The third-row seat is normally a useful addition to any car that is designed to fit a large family. For some vehicles, it provides seating for up to 6 passengers. Higher models can carry as many as 9 people depending on their configuration.

The Hyundai Santa Fe is a mid-size SUV that offers three-row seating for models made up until 2019. In today’s post, we’ll provide all the information that you need to know about the Hyundai Santa Fe’s third row seating. 

What Model Years of Hyundai Santa Fe Have Third Row Seating?

The Hyundai Santa Fe was introduced in 2001 as Hyundai’s first SUV. The first-generation model was marketed and sold until 2006. Three more generations followed after that, and the SUV is currently in its fourth generation. 

In 2012, Hyundai offered the Santa Fe with two wheelbase options: a shorter 5-seat Sport variant that came with either 5 seats or 7 seats in some markets and a long wheelbase variant called the Santa Fe XL with three rows of seats. The XL was previously just known as Santa Fe and was only renamed in 2019. It provided room for six to seven passengers. 

The third row seating was available up until the 2019 model year. From 2020 onwards, buyers get only two rows of seats that can accommodate 5 people. Hyundai said that customers would be at a disservice if they continued to have the third-row seat, because it did not provide enough legroom. 

The carmaker decided to replace the Santa Fe XL with a completely new model – the Hyundai Palisade. It not only offers enough legroom in its third row but also has enough space for cargo. It does not compromise on space like the Santa Fe XL. 


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Hyundai Santa Fe Third-Row Seating Specs

The third-generation Hyundai Santa Fe (2012-2019) offers three rows of seating space. It can accommodate up to seven people in the standard SE trim and six people in the Santa Fe XL trim. The front row offers 41.3 inches of legroom. The second row offers 40.4 inches of legroom while the third offers 30.9 inches. 

The first row has ample leg- and headroom and can accommodate taller occupants without any struggle. The second row is roomy and equally comfortable for taller people. The third row feels slightly cramped and can only accommodate kids. 

Most adults will find it difficult to stay comfortable, especially on long journeys. The knees-up position is something you may find awkward. The Hyundai Palisade offers a little more legroom in its third row and is the better option for larger families. 

Effect of Hyundai Santa Fe third-row Seating on Cargo Space

The Hyundai Santa Fe doesn’t fare that well when it comes to offering enough legroom for its rear passengers. According to the dimensions provided when all seats are in use, it seems to perform worse when it comes to cargo volume.

It offers a mere 13.5 cubic feet behind its third-row seat. When the seats are folded, this increases to 40.9 cubic feet and 80 cubic feet when both the second and third rows are split. Folding the rear seats in the Hyundai Santa Fe is a breeze. The third row folds instantly after manipulating a few straps. The same case applies to the middle row once you pull the lever on each side of the captain’s chairs. 

When compared to other mid-size SUVs that compete in the same market segment, the cargo volume you get behind the third row is too small. The two-row Santa Fe Sport offers 35.4 cubic feet behind its second-row and 71.5 cubic feet when the second row is folded. This shows how much space the third-row takes away in the Santa Fe XL. As for the Hyundai Palisade, you get 18 cubic feet when all three rows are in use. 


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Standard Features That Come with the Hyundai Santa Fe Third-row Seating

The Hyundai Santa Fe is quiet inside and is able to block out most of the wind and road noise at higher speeds. It mixes modern styling and quality materials to make sure occupants feel comfortable at all times. As standard, buyers get cloth upholstery with leather as an option. 

Other available options include second-row captain’s chairs that reduce the seating capacity to six, ventilated front seats, as well as heated front and rear seats. The Santa Fe also offers two sets of LATCH connectors for car seats in its second-row. 

The tether anchors are designed a bit differently and can be confused for other hardware. Lower anchors are also provided, but seem to be positioned way too deeply inside the seats. The overall quality of material used is fine for a mid-size SUV like the Santa Fe. 

ComparisonBetween Hyundai Santa Fe Third-row Seating and Its Competition

The Hyundai Santa Fe XL competes against the Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent, Kia Sorento, and the Volkswagen Atlas. Below is a comparison between the Santa Fe and its rivals when it comes to legroom in the third-row seat.



While the Hyundai Santa Fe XL offers a cramped third-row seat that wouldn’t fit many adults, it is more spacious than the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, and Mazda CX-9. These rivals offer less legroom in the third row. 

Models that offer a bit more than what you get in the Santa Fe include the Kia Telluride at 31.4 and the Kia Sorento and Subaru Ascent at 31.7 inches. The Honda Pilot follows closely at 31.9 inches while the Chevrolet Traverse and Volkswagen Atlas go above and beyond at 33.5 and 33.7 inches respectively. If you’re looking to get maximum legroom, the Ford Explorer is also available with a third row that offers 10 inches more legroom than the Santa Fe. 


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The Hyundai Santa Fe no longer comes with a third-row seat. However, you can still get yourself a 2019 or earlier model that provides the same with a capacity for 7 passengers. If you’re looking to have more legroom and cargo area than what you’d get in it, Hyundai offers the Palisade as a replacement.

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