First Drives: Hyundai Santa Fe with Darren Moody

The Santa Fe has long been a crowd favourite, notching more than 73,000 sales in Australia over three generations, with the outgoing 3rd model accounting for more than 55% of total sales.
The new generation is squarely focused at the active family with seven seats, storage space to burn, convenience and standard features in abundance, along with top-end safety. 

Sitting on all-new architecture, the Santa Fe has an additional 65mm in the wheelbase; the body is 70mm longer and 10mm wider, combining to provide more space to all rows. Glass area is increased, especially for third row passengers, creating a light and spacious ambience. Convenience and storage abound, with one-touch seat folding, better access to the third row, reasonable storage behind the third row with the seats up, and air vents to all rows – including the ability to adjust the temperature in the third row – and so many cup holders I lost count. 

The 2.2L R-series turbo diesel is a carryover from the previous model and retains outputs of 147kW and 440Nm, but it’s now coupled to an in-house built eight-speed auto. This brings with it seamless gear changes and slightly improved fuel economy, now 7.5L/100km on the official ADR test cycle. There’s also a 2.4L petrol engine six-speed auto available in the entry level Active variant. 

At launch, all trim grades (Active, Elite and Highlander) feature Hyundai’s HTRAC AWD system with a 50/50 F/R lock mode to provide some additional capability off road. There’s no word at this stage on a FWD-only variant, but the outgoing model did have this configuration available. 

There is also an impressive suite of active safety features for all models, including forward collision-avoidance assist that detects vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists; blind spot collision-avoidance assist; rear cross traffic-avoidance assist; lane keep assist; driver attention warning; active cruise control; and high beam assist. Elite and Highlander also get rear occupant alert – which lets the driver know if they have left rear seat passengers in the car when it has been locked by sounding the horn and flashing the lights. Safe exit assist either alerts the occupants that a vehicle is approaching from the rear or won’t allow the driver to unlock the rear doors if fitted with automatic power child locks. Highlander also features a head-up display and around-view monitor. 

Santa Fe Active features a seven-inch multimedia system, smartphone connectivity through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition. Santa Fe Elite and Highlander feature a satellite navigation system with an eight-inch infotainment display. The navigation system presents three-dimensional map views and comes with a lifetime map care update plan. 

The new Santa Fe has a real luxury feel to it, particularly in Elite and Highlander specifications. Interior materials, fit and finish, including the significant range of standard features, will really surprise. Externally, Santa Fe has a new look, featuring a wide open mesh grille with headlights in the lower section of the bumper and daytime running lights in the upper section, similar to the recently released Kona. 

Pricing for the Santa Fe kicks off at $43,000 for the Active Petrol AWD; add $3000 for a diesel. It is $54,000 for the Elite diesel, topping out at $60,500 for the Highlander (all plus on-road costs). Santa Fe also has Hyundai’s five-year unlimited km warranty and fixed-price servicing.