What is it?
WHAT a difference a year makes.
In the case of Hyundai’s Santa Fe, the good-looking mid-sized SUV of last year has become a head-turning stunner. And that’s just on the outside. It’s a similar story inside.
Revised and restyled from one end to the other, the seven-seater sports a snoot much like that of the Kona with low-slung headlights and high-rise squinty LED daylight running lights framing the wide cascading grille with its broad chrome upper lip.
The wheels on the top-spec Highlander, as reviewed, are machine-faced 19-inch alloys, tucked in slightly sunken arches, and the sleek lines continue to the rear, where the smart tailgate has also had some major beauty treatment and a satin silver skid plate.
What’s it cost?
Santa Fe comes in three virtually lookalike grades, Active, Elite and Highlander, with prices starting at $41,850 and peaking at $60,795.
Only one of the five Actives has a petrol engine. The rest of the range gets a 2.2-litre turbo diesel with six or eight-speed automatic transmissions and mostly with all-wheel drive.
The spacious cabin has also been vastly improved with an 8.0-inch infotainment system perched on the restyled dash, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality and satellite navigation.
The Highlander also has a 7.0-inch TFT screen plus a retractable head-up display that shows navigation and speed, the latter pretty vital in these days of high-performing vehicles and cash-sniffing cameras all over the show.
It’s so quick and easy to reach and exceed 60km/h, especially in a well insulated vehicle.
There are a couple of USB sockets, AUX input and a handy Qi wireless phone charger.
Sound effects? How about an Infinity premium 10-speaker system with an external 550W amplifier?
The glovebox has a cooling function to keep the chocolate from melting, the front seats are air-cooled, there’s dual zone climate control, a dual-panel panoramic sunroof, leather trim finishes, comprehensive instrumentation et al, in a sophisticated surround.
The front seats are heated (so are those in the second row) and have power adjustment.
The seven-seater’s second row is on rails, so you can adjust it for kids, adults, pets or goods and access to the third row is pretty easy.
There’s a lot of storage inside, with bins, cupholders, a cubby, bottle holders to suit a week’s travelling and the cargo area can expand from 547 to 1645 litres.
There’s also a 12-volt socket in the boot.
Other features include park assist, reversing and surround view camera, cruise control and a suite of safety stuff, such as pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and lane keep assist.
What’s it go like?
Despite being named after a city in New Mexico, Hyundai spent a lot of time tuning the Santa Fe for Australian road conditions.
The AWD car handles very well, with a firm, but composed ride, light and accurate steering and good brakes. It’s a good thing to drive, and there’s a choice of four modes, so you can tailor the car to prevailing conditions, or your mood on the day.
The 8-speed auto is a delight and helps the vehicle achieve commendable fuel economy on the highways.
The 2.2-litre 147kW/440Nm four-cylinder turbo-diesel has an official average figure of 7.5L/100km. We recorded 8.1.
Towing capacity is 2000kg.
All Hyundais come with a five-year/unlimited km warranty, plus free roadside assistance for the first year.
What we like?
- Lots of great features
- Long warranty
What we don’t like?
- Slightly noisy diesel
The bottom line?
Good looking, well built, with more features than we have room for here, plus performance, comfort, economy — and a vast amount of space in a medium-sized SUV. We liked it.
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Hyundai Santa Fe, priced from $41,850
- Looks - 8.5/108.5/10
- Performance - 8.5/108.5/10
- Safety - 8.5/108.5/10
- Thirst - 8.5/108.5/10
- Practicality - 8.5/108.5/10
- Comfort - 8/108/10
- Tech - 8.5/108.5/10
- Value - 8/108/10