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Car reviews - Hyundai - Santa Fe - 3.3 V6 5-dr wagon

Launch Story

Hyundai logo1 Aug 2007

By CHRIS HARRIS

HYUNDAI Motor Co Australia (HMCA) has added a third model to its Santa Fe range as competition in the medium SUV class heats up.

The company has finally fitted the premium 3.3-litre “Lambda” V6 engine to its mid-sized SUV, two years after the powerplant made its debut in the Sonata sedan.

The catch is that the most powerful Santa Fe is not an all-wheel drive like the other petrol and diesel models, but feeds all its power through the front wheels.

While the Ford Territory is available in AWD or rear-drive form, the 3.3 Santa Fe is the first medium SUV to be offered as a front-wheel drive.

Toyota will offer the new Kluger as both an AWD and front-drive when it goes on sale here later this month.

Rather than drop the 2.7-litre “Delta” V6 engine that had previously been the only petrol choice in the Santa Fe, HMCA has decided to offer both petrol engines, as well as the existing turbo-diesel.

This strategy allows the company to have a cheaper base model as well as a more expensive petrol model variant.

The Santa Fe range now starts from $33,990 – $2000 lower than before and, crucially, $1000 below its chief rival, the Holden Captiva – with the introduction of an SX model variant with a 2.7-litre V6.

Previously, the SX grade was exclusive to the more expensive diesel model. It should also be noted that the 2.7 SX does not have electronic stability control, which is fitted standard to the entry Captiva.

The new 3.3 V6 Santa Fe slides into the line-up at a starting price of $37,990 for the five-seater, moving up to $40,990 for the seven-seater and topping out at $46,490 for the seven-seat Elite.

Santa Fe’s diesel pricing strategy remains unchanged, with the five-seat diesel SX at $36,990, the seven-seat SLX model at $43,490 and the Elite seven-seater at $48,990.

The new quad-cam V6 engine means the Santa Fe will be one of the most powerful models in the class, with 180kW and 309Nm.

This is especially important given the impending arrival of the Kluger, with a power output of 200kW-plus which the company’s powerful marketing arm will undoubtedly heavily promote. The current class power leader is the 190kW Ford Territory.

The Lambda V6 in the Santa Fe is actually more potent than the unit used in the Sonata, with an extra 7kW and 5Nm on tap. It is paired with a standard five-speed automatic transmission. The premium six-cylinder uses 10.7L/100km, based on ADR 81/01.

Cost-conscious buyers who choose the 2.7-litre petrol model have 138kW and 248Nm. That engine comes standard with a five-speed manual, while a four-speed automatic transmission costs an extra $2000. Fuel economy ranges from 10.4L/100km for the manual to 10.6L/100km for the automatic.

The 2.2-litre four-cylinder common-rail turbo-diesel, which was introduced last year, delivers 114kW and 343Nm. It uses a five-speed manual as the default transmission, while a five-speed auto costs $2500 extra. The diesel Santa Fe delivers fuel economy of between 7.3L/100km for the five-seat manual and 8.2L/100km for the seven-seat automatic.

The base model 2.7-litre Santa Fe is only available in SX form, while the diesel and 3.3 petrol models are available in SX, SLX and Elite form.

Standard equipment for the SX includes air-conditioning, electric windows, 17-inch alloy wheels (including full-size spare), roof rails, a cargo blind and cruise control.

Safety features include dual front airbags and ABS brakes for the diesel and 2.7-litre petrol model, while the petrol 3.3 also comes with traction control and stability control.

The SLX adds side and curtain airbags, a third row of folding seats, rear air-conditioning controls, two additional cup-holders, a trip computer, foglights and different trim. In the case of the diesel, the SLX also adds ESC and traction control.

Stepping up to the Elite adds a sunroof, 18-inch wheels, leather seat facings, dual-zone climate control, a premium sound system, automatic headlights, electronically-adjustable driver and front passenger seats, and chrome trim details.

The diesel and 2.7 petrol Santa Fe models use an on-demand 4WD system, which predominantly supplies power to the front wheels. If the system detects slippage, it shifts some drive to the rear wheels. In slippery conditions, the system can also be locked into a mode which sees 50 per cent of drive sent to each axle.

AWD is not an option for the Australian 3.3 petrol Santa Fe, despite the fact that the system is available on some overseas Santa Fe models that use the same engine.

Apart from engine and specification changes, the Santa Fe is mostly unchanged.

That means it uses a monocoque body, with MacPherson strut front suspension and a double wishbone set-up at the rear. The more modern 3.3-litre V6 is lighter than the 2.7-litre unit it replaces and Hyundai engineers have subsequently adjusted the suspension settings.

The Santa Fe measures up at 4675mm long, 1990mm wide and 1795mm high, which means it is slightly larger than the Captiva, but still significantly smaller than the Territory.

Like all Hyundais, the Santa Fe comes with a five year/unlimited km warranty.

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