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Car reviews - Hyundai - Santa Fe


We like
Exceptional standard equipment across the range, hybrid powertrain delivers nicely, massive space inside, great interior fitout and design, 10 airbags - including third-row coverage
Room for improvement
Irritating and frustrating driver safety technology, no auto-dimming mirror in base grade, exterior design not to all tastes

Seven-seater shifts shape and ups the ante with hybrid range from launch

7 Jun 2024



TALK about a big change - the new-generation Hyundai Santa Fe is larger and more in charge than ever before, with a bold exterior look, amazing interior finishing and plenty of space for families.

The six- or seven-seat SUV is offered in three grades from launch, all of which are powered by a petrol-electric hybrid system. A punchy turbo-petrol model is due by the end of the year.


Opening the range is the Santa Fe Hybrid, at $55,500 +ORCs for the front-drive model, and the AWD version is $58,500 +ORCs. It gets cloth trim but has heated front seats, electric front seat adjust, twin 12.3-inch screens, wireless phone charging, a power tailgate, keyless entry and push-button start, 20-inch rims with a full-size spare and LED lighting.


Up from there is the Hybrid Elite AWD at $65,000 +ORCs, with extras such as leather trim, power adjustable passenger seat, heated steering wheel, 12-speaker Bose stereo and dual wireless phone chargers, as well as Hyundai’s BlueLink connected services package.


And the range-topping model is the Hybrid Calligraphy AWD, available in seven-seat guise for $75,000 +ORCs or with a six-seat layout with second-row captain’s chairs for $75,500 +ORCs. It gets different wheels, a dual sunroof, head-up display, nappa leather trim and a digital camera mirror, ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats and more. Calligraphy buyers have a couple of different interior trims to choose from.


Under the bonnet is a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine that teams with an electric motor integrated into the six-speed automatic transmission with a choice of front-wheel drive (in the base grade only) or all-wheel drive. The combined outputs are 172kW and 367Nm.

Obviously being a hybrid its fuel consumption is a big consideration and the official combined number is 5.6 litres per 100km for both 2WD and AWD models, with a CO2 number of 128g/km. Fuel tank capacity is 67 litres. It has an unbraked towing capacity of 750kg and a braked rating of 1650kg but a downball limit of just 100kg.


The cabin is eye-catching and cleverly appointed with ample storage up front and a decent amount of usability to the design. The touchscreen display for climate control might take some learning, but otherwise it’s all mostly well thought out. The shift-by-wire gear selector is mounted on the steering column for extra storage, and there’s a huge tray at the bottom level and additional stowage up top, not to mention big bottle holders and a dual-glovebox design.


Second-row space is ample for adults, even with a taller driver and big third-row riders. I could fit in with comfort in that situation, thanks to a sliding and reclining second-row seat which is split 60:40. The smaller portion is on the roadside, meaning access might be a concern for adults with little kids who also have a child seat on the kerbside.

There are four ISOFIX points (two in the second row, two in the back row) and five top-tethers (one for every rear seat), so fitting a big family in should be do-able. There are also USB-C ports in the back, and B-pillar-mounted vents for the second row while the third row has a dedicated fan controller and vents plus there is ample storage for all the back-seat riders too.


The boot is decent with all seven seats in play, and there’s 628 litres of cargo capacity with the back row folded away. Drop the second-row seats with the electric controls (standard in all grades) and you’ll get 1949L of flat IKEA-friendly space. However, it’s a big boot lid, and there’s sadly no glass partition to open for easy access to the cargo zone if you reverse into a parking space. Oh, and there’s a full-size spare wheel under the boot floor too.


The Hyundai Santa Fe has a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with the hybrid’s battery pack covered by an eight-year/160,000km warranty. There’s a lifetime capped-price servicing plan from the brand but the first five services are reasonably priced at between $459 and $569 per visit. However, the intervals are 12 months/10,000km so it may be costly to maintain for those who do above-average kays. At least Hyundai will top up your roadside assistance every time you service with the brand.


There’s no ANCAP rating for the vehicle as yet, but it does have a heap of standard safety technology and equipment, including AEB with pedestrian, cyclist and junction detection, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam and lane change assistance, blind-spot monitoring with a blind-spot view camera, rear cross traffic alert, rear AEB, a surround-view camera system is standard and there are parking sensors fitted front and rear. And this generation Santa Fe is ticking the box for airbag coverage with 10 in total - dual front, front side, driver’s knee, front centre, second-row side, and full-length airbags with all three rows of seats covered for head protection.

The car has a few other safety features that are to its detriment, though…


Driving impressions


Let’s start with those safety systems. The beeping, binging, bonging technology is unbearable to me and it might be to you too. There’s a driver monitoring camera which whines at you for even glancing at the temperature control panel let alone looking for a safe gap in traffic or glancing back at what the kids are up to.


There’s also a speed sign recognition system that will beep if it thinks you’ve gone over the signposted limit but it often gets it wrong and its incessant beeping when you’re doing even 1km/h over the limit is frankly the most frustrating thing about this car. It defaults back on when you turn off the ignition too, so get used to learning the shortcut to turn it off or just prepare to be miserable.


It’s such a shame because this is otherwise a really likeable and liveable car with a smooth powertrain that makes urban and open road driving a breeze. Sure, it’s not a weapon in terms of acceleration or performance but it is a perfectly well suited powertrain for family car buyers with a decent real-world efficiency figure possible – I saw 6.8L/100km across more than 250km of mixed driving including plenty of open road and freeway. You’ll see better in urban driving where you’ll be using the regen’ brakes more.


The steering and suspension haven’t been Australianised this time around but the brand did sign off a specific combination of components that it thinks fit the needs and wants of local customers. And for the most part it seems pretty good for a two-tonne-plus SUV with 20-inch wheels.


A great car?


Yep, it almost is. But hopefully Hyundai can fettle some of those safety systems to make it an even more likeable one.

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