Hyundai’s sharper-looking Santa Fe, offers class-leading equipment levels, keen pricing, and rough-road capability
Hyundai has risen from humble origins as a cut-price car builder in the 1980s and ‘90s, to become one of this country’s biggest and best-selling brands. And this is its latest, and probably most capable ever offering (the really-just-an-old-Mitsubishi-Pajero Terracan notwithstanding), the Hyundai Santa Fe.
With prices starting from $36,990 for the petrol-engined manual-toting Active (and topping out at $49,990 for the diesel-powered Highlander) the new Santa Fe is hard to ignore. Available in three variants (Active, Elite, and Highlander), the Santa Fe, from entry, is standard with seven seats, seven airbags, rear-view camera, auto dusk-sensing headlights, front and rear with third-row air-conditioning, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, and much, much more.
The Elite adds such goodies as: seven-inch touchscreen audio system with sat-nav and SUNA live traffic updates (with three years MapCare plan); climate control air-con; and glovebox cooling. The Highlander variant heaps up on top of all that, things like: power front passenger seat, full-length panoramic glass sunroof, and heated front and second-row seats.
Sure, it might look more Parramatta Road than Tanami Track but, thanks to a clever new all-wheel drive system (which is virtually identical to BMW’s xDrive) the Santa Fe doesn’t mind getting dirt under its finger nails. Indeed, the Active Traction Cornering Control system can shuffle torque front and back, side to side and even load up individual wheels and cut power to others dependent on the level of slip or grip detected.
There are two engines to choose from, a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol (141kW and 242Nm), and a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel (145kW and 436Nm), both can be had with a standard-fit six-speed manual, or a cost-optional slick-shifting six-speed automatic. Fuel consumption ranges from 6.6L/100km for the diesel manual to 9.0L/100km for the petrol manual.
Like a lot of premium car makers, Hyundai has added an Active ECO system to its auto-equipped variants, which can be activated via a button on the dashboard. This system tweaks the engine and transmission control to smooth-out throttle response to prevent it from over-revving and thus conserve fuel. In the manual the system is replaced by a gear-shift indicator, recommending when the driver should change up a gear.
Inside, the handsome-looking dash is swathed in soft-touch plastics and, thanks to reach and rake on the steering it’s easy to get comfy behind the wheel. And there’s plenty of room in the backseat for adults and kids alike, too. Minimal intrusion by the transmission tunnel means the middle seat is more than just a perch. The backseats are able to recline, or even slide backwards and forwards. There’s a handy 516 litres of bootspace.
On and off the road, the Santa Fe offers a cabin with class-leading levels of insulation (you could literally hear a pin drop inside the cabin), and both the ride and body control (thanks to local tuning of the suspension) is right up there with the best in the class. Oddly, the electric power assistance steering offers three modes (Flex-Steer), but you’ll only ever use Sport which offers decent weight and precision (the other modes feel a little too detatched).
The new Santa Fe is infinitely better to look at and drive, is roomier than the old one, and much, much better equipped. In terms of safety, all Santa Fe variants carry a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating, seven airbags, a day/night or auto-dimming rear vision mirror (depending on the model), ABS with traction and stability controls, and much more.
Having the elevated driving position gives the latest Hyundai Santa Fe an edge to its already likeable five-star safety award. Dual front airbags, side airbags and head-protecting side curtains are standard equipment. The side curtains are designed to deploy in a rollover crash. Antilock brakes (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD) and electronic stability control (ESC) are also standard. Advanced seat belt reminders are fitted to the driver and front passenger seats. Pre-tensioners are fitted to the front seat belts to reduce slack in the event of a crash. Three point seat belts are fitted to all seats, and provide better protection than a two point (lap) seat belt.
A roomy AWD, seven-seater makes life all that much easier for carting both luggage and people about. Whether you head for adventure or to cruise the city roads you’ll find the Hyundai Santa Fe is exceptionally comfortable and refined. The powerful 2.2 Turbo-diesel engine is a gutsy performer that knows how to keep the fuel bill to a minimum, while the chassis is exceptionally well mannered – even when bustled along.
Full iPod and USB connectivity, leather seats, dusk sensing headlights, a pollen filter, air conditioning, steering wheel controls for audio and cruise control, and rain sensing wipers are a few of the tasty items available to the Santa Fe models.
The Hyundai Santa Fe has a clever design that incorporates a classy look with that of a very solid and robust vehicle. The delightfully chunky styling is uniquely packaged into what is a blend of athleticism and power.
in Australia, two motors power three specification levels. There is the common rail direct injection diesel engine and the petrol alternative that boasts V6 muscle. Both the Hyundai Santa Fe engine variants are cleverly designed to provide plenty of brisk acceleration and loads of torque on tap when required. For those of you who like to see the goods on paper, we’ll start by reviewing the diesel powered Hyundai Santa Fe. Under the muscley bonnet lines of the Hyundai Santa Fe SX CRDi, the SLX CRDi and the Elite CRDi, there sits a state of the art 2.2 litre turbo diesel. The motor has a cast iron cylinder block with aluminium heads. It is an in-line 4 cylinder motor that has a single overhead camshaft with 4 valves per cylinder. The powerful compression ratio boasts a very beefy 17.3:1 and power out put is a decent 114 kW at 4000rpm. Diesel motors are known for having loads of grunt, particularly at low down engine revs. The Hyundai Santa Fe does not let the side down in this arena, boasting a superbly useful 343 Nm of torque at a flat range of 1800-2500 rpm. This is simply fantastic when tasks that require that extra bit of muscle need to be performed. Perhaps this is why I would choose the Hyundai Santa Fe diesel variants over their petrol powered brothers. However, the 2.7 litre petrol motor is smooth. The V6 engine delivers 138 kW of power at 6000 rpm, and to talk torque, the twist is 248 Nm at 4000 rpm. This V6 is fuel injected and needs to be held at higher revs to find the full heart and soul of the Hyundai Santa Fe’s engine. This is necessary when the rough stuff is tackled, and when passing manoeuvres need to be quick. The petrol engine happily rises to higher revs without fuss, and sounds great in the process. The Hyundai Santa Fe SX 3.3, SLX 3.3 – 7 seater and Elite 3.3 – 7 seater have the most powerful petrol unit available to the Santa Fe range. Quite a sublime engine, the big V6 boasts plenty of smooth and refined grunt. Ample power means that in all conditions the 3.3 Santa Fe remains in command, and becauseit is being driven through the front wheels the big vehicle has good fuel consumption figures of around 10 litres per 100 km.
When in AWD packaging, what is the Hyundai Santa Fe like off the bitumen? Off road, or on a bumpy, badly rutted track, upon review, we found the Hyundai Santa Fe is superb and it happily romps along, soaking up the bumps and ruts, and masterfully keeping the wheels in touch with the ground. If the going gets slippery, you can select a centre diff lock that feeds power 50/50 to each axle up to 40kph, then ‘on demand’ to the axle with the most traction above that speed. If you like to have control of the gear change, the transmission will be a five speed manual for both diesel and petrol versions. However, the Hyundai Santa Fe diesel motor will be mated to a 5 speed automatic, whereas the petrol alternative is linked to the 4 speed automatic gearbox if you like the car to gear change for you. The five speed auto is admirably smooth and quick in its changes and is a joy to drive.
Hyundais today are a far cry from the earlier models which lacked quality. Comfortable, quiet, solid and well appointed, the cabin of a Hyundai Santa Fe is a pleasantly relaxing environment. Each model is appointed in luxury and has cruise control, a four function steering wheel that has audio control, a beautiful sprinkling of aluminium finishings on various trimmings and instruments, air conditioning and a superb quality sound system. In the Hyundai Santa Fe Elite, the sound system is upgraded with sub woofers and is increased to seven speakers from an already lovely sounding 6 speaker system. The Hyundai Santa Fe Elite also boasts a dual zone climate control system that has an air quality function. Also in the Hyundai Santa Fe Elite is the voluptuous leather upholstery. This of course adds up to the pleasant cabin environment. The Hyundai Santa Fe is a nice vehicle to eat up the miles in, whether driving dusty outback roads (where offroading may be required) or along main highways at swift legal speeds.
The Hyundai Santa Fe is superbly safe, too. Driver and front passenger airbags are standard on the SX model. The more expensive SLX and Elite also have dual side airbags in the front, and curtain airbags front and rear. Each Santa Fe has pretensioning front seat belts and 3 point seat belts all round. Let’s not forget that the Hyundai Santa Fe has the ability to seat seven.
It may not yet carry the same status as a VW Touareg, Mercedes ML, Lexus RX300 or Volvo XC90, but at half the price who really cares so we hope you put in on your shortlist after reading our Hyundai Santa Fe review!
Current model series include:
For any more information on the ML:Current Year Hyundai Santa Fe, or for that matter any other new car, contact one of our friendly consultants on 1300 303 181. If you’d like some fleet discount pricing (yes even for private buyers!), we can submit vehicle quotes requests out to our national network of Hyundai dealers and come back with pricing within 24 hours. Private Fleet – car buying made easy!
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