On the road

0-100: 2023 Hyundai Fiesta De Santa Fe

The fourth-gen Hyundai Santa Fe harks from 2018 but a December 2020 facelift gave it fresh styling and a hybrid-petrol powertrain.

With fuel prices hovering at or near historic highs, the promise of diesel-like efficiency with the more refined characteristics of petrol has obvious appeal. And that’s precisely the promise of the latest addition to Hyundai’s family-friendly Santa Fe SUV range, with the fuel-sipping turbo four-cylinder petrol hybrid now available in the better equipped (and most expensive) Elite and Highlander AWD variants.

We’re tempted by the fully loaded Highlander Hybrid AWD which costs an extra $6550 over the Elite but brings such niceties as nappa leather upholstery, heated outer second-row seats, projector LED headlights and a panoramic sunroof.

The generous standard equipment list extends to a 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, dual-zone climate control, wireless phone charger, heated steering wheel, powered tailgate, smart remote key, and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also the option of fancy second-row captain’s chairs if you prefer the extra space of a six-seat layout.

The roomy and attractively furnished interior feels decidedly upmarket, with shapely perforated-leather seats and an attractive mix of materials and finishes, including chrome-finished dials, black suede on the headliner and pillars, and a multi-selectable ambient lighting palette.

Getting comfortable is easy thanks to the 14-way electric front seats with heating and cooling, and the driver faces a crisply rendered and customisable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, colour head-up display, plus a 10.25-inch high-resolution touchscreen infotainment system.

The responsive turbo petrol fourcylinder and electric motor work in harmony, switching smoothly between electric and combustion drive modes to deliver brisk off-the-mark acceleration and assertive overtaking. The hybrid’s claimed combined-cycle fuel consumption of 6.0L/100km undercuts the 2.2-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder (6.1L/100km) and 3.5-litre petrol V6 (10.5L/100km) available elsewhere in the range.

Hyundai also claims to have put the Santa Fe through extensive local testing to ensure the suspension is calibrated for Australian conditions. We found few chinks in its armour on a family road trip with three passengers and every one of the wagon’s 571 litres of boot space accounted for, the independent system striking a balance between comfort and control.

The Santa Fe hybrid hasn’t been tested by ANCAP but other models in the range boast a five-star safety rating achieved in 2018, with the hybrid’s standard features including seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking with steering assist, blind-spot and lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control.

As with many seven-seat SUVs the third-row seats are best suited for kids or occasional use by adults of smaller stature, though the fact the curtain airbags cover only the glass area and not the full extent of the third row is a miss in this otherwise impressive family wagon.

For more information, visit the Hyundai website.

The specs

Make/Model: 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Highlander AWD

Body: Five-door SUV

Retail price: $69,550 (MRLP)

Body style: Large SUV

Seating: Seven

Fuel consumption: (Combined) 6.0L/100km (137g/km CO2)

ANCAP Safety Rating: Not yet tested, other variants 5-star (2018)

Engine: 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder petrol, 44.2kW electric motor (169kW/350Nm)

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Drive type: All-wheel drive

0-100km/h: 8.2 secs (estimate)