STORY: JOHN EWING
Almost two decades on since Hyundai debuted the original Santa Fe in 2000, the fourth-
generation has now been released. And the new model brings the brand’s large SUV greater
style, improved interior space and functionality, infotainment and connectivity
enhancements, and importantly, additional advanced safety features standard across the
Santa Fe has become popular with families, and with seven seats as standard plus the new
car’s range of improvements, Hyundai are billing the new comer as the ‘complete package’
for families after safety, style and the versatility to suit an active lifestyle.
All-wheel-drive Santa Fe will be available in three grades, the entry level Active, the mid-range Elite and top-tier Highlander. Only the Active will offer a choice of petrol or turbo-diesel engine, with the remaining versions turbo-diesel only.
Prices for the new model and price rises over the superseded model are shown below.
Externally, the new model takes on a more mature and purposeful appearance, that also
aligns its styling with the breed’s other SUV models. This includes the corporate-signature cascading grille and ‘split’ front lighting design, where the LED DRLs are positioned above the headlights. Alloy wheels are either 17”, 18” or 19” diameter and of 10-spoke design in three different finishes, depending on the model. There are nine exterior paint colours.
Exterior proportions have grown allowing increased passenger and cargo space inside. The new model is 70mm longer, 10mm wider, while wheelbase has expanded by 65mm.
Space gains inside the significantly upgraded cabin include an extra 30mm of second-row seat travel, 36mm extra access space for third-row passengers, 42mm more head space for third-row, and a lower rear floor tunnel improving foot space for centre rear occupants. Cargo space with the third-row in use increases to 130 litres.
Inclusion of a ‘walk-in’ switch on the kerb-side allows quick easy folding of the second-row seat for easier access for third-row passengers. Elite and Highlander models are fitted with a Smart power tailgate that opens automatically when it detects the Smart-key close by.
The new Santa Fe uses 15% more high-strength steel than the old model, and has increased
body tensile strength and torsional stiffness, benefiting safety and chassis dynamics.
The Theta II 2.4-litre petrol engine carries over from the previous model and outputs remain unchanged at 138 kW and 241 Nm and there’s still a six-speed auto box mated to it. Official combined cycle fuel consumption has dropped by a meagre 0.1litres/100km to 9.3 litres/100km.
The R-Series 2.2-litre CRDi diesel also delivers the same outputs of 147 kW and 440 Nm as before, but now newly mated to Hyundai’s own eight-speed auto, fuel consumption reduces by 0.3 litres/100km to 7.5 litres/100km. Elite and Highlander models are equipped with paddle shifters.
All models put power to the road through Hyundai’s new HTRAC active torque control all-
wheel-drive system for maximum traction. The Drive Mode Select system in all versions allows drivers to choose between Eco, Comfort, Sport and Smart modes, thereby controlling the torque split front to rear, and throttle and transmission responses.
Steering and suspension have come in for significant revisions to improve comfort, increase steering road-feel and increase handling responsiveness. The column-mounted motor-driven power steering system has been ditched in favour of a rack-mounted electric power steering unit. Like all current Hyundai vehicles sold locally, the new Santa Fe benefits from optimisation of steering and suspension for Australian conditions by their local chassis development team and also in this case, engineers from damper supplier ZF Sachs and Hyundai R & D in South Korea.
The new model impresses with the level of standard safety and driver assistance technologies provided on all variants. This includes forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection, smart cruise control with stop-go function, active blind-spot collision avoidance/warning, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance warning/assist, driver attention alert, high beam assist, and active lane keeping assist/warning.
Elite and Highlander models also have rear occupant alert and safety exit assist. The former uses an ultrasonic sensor to monitor the rear seats and alert the driver if there are still passengers in the rear seats. The system can also activate if children accidentally lock themselves in the car. The other uses radar sensors to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from behind when a door is opened.
The well-equipped Highlander also has a new 360⁰ surround-view monitor system, head-up
display, inductive (cordless) phone charging, LED high/low beam headlights and dynamic bending light system.
Hyundai Autolink comes standard on both Active and Elite variants. It connects the vehicle’s computer to the owner’s mobile phone via Bluetooth to enable them to access a wealth of vehicle information, including driving history, vehicle health checks, and convenience features such as parking management (provides parked vehicle location and parking time reminders), and easy service scheduling. The Highlanders expanded Autolink Premium adds remote control features for engine start/stop, door lock/unlock, hazard and horn, plus temperature settings and defroster on/off when the engine starts.
Watch for our new car road test of the new Highlander coming in The Road Ahead, October/November edition.