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Car reviews - Hyundai - Santa Fe - 5-dr wagon range

Launch Story

28 Oct 2008

HYUNDAI has titivated its two-and-a-half year-old mid-sized SUV with minor changes to the grille and door mirrors (they now incorporate turn-indicators), as well as new trim colours and an upgraded audio unit with MP3/USB usability.

Prices remain the same as before, meaning that the entry-level 138kW/248Nm 2.7-litre V6 petrol kicks off at $33,990, while the 114kW/343Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder CRDi turbo-diesel starts from $36,990.

The V6 petrol is offered with a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox, while the CRDi is a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic proposition.

The V6 petrol’s fuel consumption is 10.4 litres per 100km (auto: 10.6), compared to the diesel’s 7.3L/100km (auto: 8.3).

It’s the same story with carbon dioxide emissions, ranging from 198 to 218 grams per kilometre for the diesel, and 256 to 258g/km for the V6.

Hyundai has dropped the 108kW/309Nm 3.8-litre Lambda V6 petrol engine from the line-up for now, but it will return sometime next year. Currently the diesel accounts for around 75 per cent of all Santa Fe sales.

Three models are available – SX, SLX and Elite – in either five or seven-seater and front-wheel or all-wheel drive configurations.

A new addition for the MY09 range is Hyundai’s Active Locking Operation (HALO), which automatically locks all vehicles from 40km/h and then unlock them again when the key is removed from the ignition.

Of more interest to adventurers who venture out to Santa Fe is its Trek ‘n’ Tow kit.

This comprises of a set of four specially graded springs and damper units that result in better ground clearance. The upshot is improved off-road and towing control. It also increases the tow ball load from 150kg to 180kg. All models have a braked trailer towing capacity of 2000kg.

To recap, the Santa Fe’s engine is mounted transversely, while the body is a monocoque design rather than the heavier ladder-frame construction.

4WD models employ a part-time on-demand system. Using electronics to determine traction loss, it switches from front to all-wheel drive, determining which of the four wheels has the best grip.

The driver can also select a dash-mounted dial for 50/50 front/rear drive up to 30km/h for more demanding 4WD situations, and can rely on Hyundai’s TCB Tight Corner Braking function to aid turns on hard grippy surfaces.

The suspension consists of MacPherson struts and coil springs up front and a multi-link set-up out back.

It is encompassed by an 2700mm wheelbase, and the turning circle is just 10.9 metres, half a metre less than the Territory and Kluger.

All Santa Fe models include stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, active head restraints for the two front occupants, and dual front, front side and curtain airbags – which extend to the third row in seven-seater versions.

Other attractions include face-level ventilation for all outboard occupants, an air-conditioned cool box, a second ‘parents’ interior rear-view mirror, sun-visor extenders, over 30 storage areas and a kerbside centre seat portion that folds forward without the need for headrest removal or front-seat movement when the third row needs accessing.

Cargo volume, rated at 969 litres, can be extended by almost 2.3 times to 2213 litres by folding seat rows two (which also split folds) and three – both of which conveniently split-fold for passenger/parcel permutation options.

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