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Driven: Hyundai thinks big with all-new Santa Fe

Shifting sands: Hyundai’s latest Santa Fe has a striking new exterior, clearly seen through the company’s new ‘brand-signature’ cascading grille and split front lighting layout.

Big uptick in sales expected for Hyundai’s bigger, more upmarket all-new Santa Fe

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Hyundai logo5 Jul 2018

HYUNDAI has launched its fourth-generation Santa Fe in Australia and is anticipating a significant 50 per cent increase in sales compared to the previous model, despite a shift upmarket that sees the redesigned seven-seat large SUV kick off more than $2000 higher at $43,000 plus on-road costs.
 
On sale from from this weekend, Hyundai’s bigger, more advanced and distinctly different-looking flagship model has arrived with a four-variant model range that relies on carryover four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol and turbo-diesel powertrains, each combined with an automatic transmission and four-wheel-drive system.
 
Subject to decisions made at its South Korean head office, Hyundai Motor Co Australia (HMCA) no longer has a 4x2 driveline choice and/or a V6 petrol engine – a combination that proved extremely popular with buyers of the previous series, opening proceedings at $40,990.
 
HMCA chief executive JW Lee told GoAuto that the company was continuing to negotiate with its parent company to secure other powertrain and driveline choices, particularly a higher-output petrol engine that could be either the familiar 3.3-litre V6 or a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol. 
 
“Surely, we want some more,” he said. “Each country wants something more or some derivative and from head office point of view, I understand they cannot meet everyone’s needs when there are some differences in perspective.
 
“If I have some more dishes on my table, surely I am going to enjoy my table full! Definitely, I will be much, much happier! But this table is not only for me.”
 
However, Mr Lee is confident that the launch range has enough to increase Santa Fe sales to at least 1000 units a month – 12,000 a year – which is up from an average of around 7000 units a year over the course of the previous generation and would see it vying for class leadership with the likes of Toyota’s Kluger and Mazda’s CX-9 and CX-8 armada. 
 
Last year, with the entry V6/2WD/auto variant as a permanent fixture, Santa Fe had its best year with 7974 sales, but has dropped off in 2018 with sales down 23.8 per cent to the end of June. 
 
The new AWD-only TM-series Santa Fe range now opens with the Active trim level that is available in either 2.4-litre GDi petrol or 2.2-litre CRDi diesel guise, the latter requiring a $3000 extra outlay over the petrol that sees it start from $46,000 plus on-roads.
 
These two variants are both priced $1150 higher than equivalent versions from the previous DM series, while mid-series Elite and top-spec Highlander grades are, as before, configured only with the 2.2-litre diesel. 
 
The Elite is priced from $54,000, and the Highlander from $60,500, marking an increase of $2010 and $3410 respectively over equivalent variants in the previous generation. 
 
Metallic/mica paint adds $695.
 
The increased prices reflect the higher specification and positioning that Hyundai is taking with each new-generation model, and the new Santa Fe is offering a number of claimed segment-first driver-assist safety technologies including ‘collision avoidance assist’ functionality (that is, active intervention) on the blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems.
 
Other claimed first-in-class features, which are limited to the Elite and Highlander, include a ‘safety exit assist’ system designed to prevent doors being opened when a vehicle is approaching from behind, and a newly developed ‘rear occupant alert’ that warns the driver, when he or she is leaving the car, if there are still passengers in the rear seat. 
 
These are part of Hyundai’s ‘SmartSense’ active safety systems, which also include forward collision avoidance assist (with pedestrian and cyclist detection), smart cruise control (with stop and go), driver attention warning, high-beam assist and lane-keep assist – across the full Santa Fe range.
 
A surround-view monitor with advanced smart parking assist system is exclusive to Highlander, while Elite has front park assist sensors. 
 
Other standard safety equipment runs to electronic stability and traction control, four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, hill-start assist, downhill brake control, a tyre-pressure monitoring system, reversing camera and six airbags, however the curtain airbags only run the length of the side windows (covering the first and second rows, not the third).
 
Hyundai points to the high level of infotainment and connectivity on the new Santa Fe, which at the Active level includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and voice recognition. 
 
Auxiliary and USB inputs (with iPod compatibility), Bluetooth audio streaming, radio data system (RDS) and at least six speakers are also included. 
 
Elite and Highlander up the ante with an 8.0-inch dash display and more sophisticated equipment, including satellite navigation (with SUNA live traffic updates), a premium 10-speaker Infinity audio system and DAB+ digital radio. 
 
Highlander has a bigger 7.0-inch display in the instrument binnacle (up from 3.5”) which includes a digital speedo and a head-up display. 
 
All variants have daytime running lights, foglights, an alarm, remote locking, electronic park brake, power windows/mirrors (including heating on the latter), air-conditioning (with second-row temperature controls), height-adjustable driver’s seat, a leather-clad multi-function steering wheel, trip computer and access to the Hyundai Auto Link app that provides owners (and HMCA) with a wide range of information on the vehicle and how it is driven.
 
Auto Link ‘Premium’ level also debuts on the Highlander, with extra remote-control functionality such as engine start/stop, door lock/unlock and cabin temperature pre-set.
 
Elite adds chrome exterior embellishments, rear power tailgate (with hands-free opening), higher-level cabin trim, leather seat upholstery, push-button start, dual-zone climate control (with auto defog), rain-sensing windscreen wipers, electric front seat adjustment (10-way driver/eight-way passenger), glovebox cooling, ‘solar control’ glass, tinted windows, rear door sunshades and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated compass.
 
Highlander has suede trim throughout the cabin, extra driver’s seat adjustment (14-way, with two-position memory), heated and ventilated front seats, second-row outboard seat heating, steering wheel heating, auto-dipping exterior mirrors (on reverse), wireless mobile phone charging pad, panoramic sunroof and extra interior lighting – all with LEDs.
 
Highlander’s lighting is a cut above the rest in other aspects, too, with LEDs used for the headlights (low/high beam), foglights and rear combination lamps. It also has dynamic cornering lights.
 
The 2.4-litre direct-injection GDi petrol engine continues to produce 138kW of power and 241Nm of torque, driving through a six-speed automatic transmission and returning combined-cycle fuel economy of 9.3 litres per 100km. This is a 0.1L/100km improvement than before. CO2 emissions are rated at 217 grams per kilometre (-2g/km).
 
The 2.2-litre R-series CRDi diesel similarly holds firm with 147kW/440Nm, but benefits from a new in-house-developed eight-speed automatic. The official mileage figure comes in at 7.5L/100km (-0.3L/100km) and CO2 output stands at 198g/km (-7g/km).
 
Gearshift paddles are included on the Elite and Highlander. 
 
Both drive all four wheels through Hyundai’s ‘HTRAC’ on-demand 4WD system with variable torque control that is manageable via three drive modes: Sport (sending up to 50 per cent of engine torque to the rear wheels), Comfort (up to 35 per cent rearward) and Eco (which basically runs as a front-driver). 
 
There is also a ‘Smart’ mode designed to automatically adapt to the driving style and prevailing conditions. 
 
The new Santa Fe is 70mm longer, 10mm wider and 15mm taller than the previous model, stretching 4770mm in overall length, 1890mm in width and standing 1705mm in overall height (including roof rails). The 2765mm wheelbase is a notable 65mm longer. 
 
Hyundai says this liberates more space inside, and official measurements do show improved headroom and hip-room, but legroom and shoulder-room figures are virtually the same or slightly tighter. 
 
The second row has a 60/40 split-fold and fore/aft seat travel, along with a new ‘walk in’ switch. The third row is split 50/50.
 
Cargo volume is now 547 litres with all seats in operation, extending to a maximum 1625L. It was previously 516/1615L.
 
The same basic suspension design is used – MacPherson struts up front and multi-link at the rear – but HMCA has retuned it for the new generation, aiming for a more stable yet comfortable ride and improved refinement. 
 
A rack-mounted motor-driven rack-and-pinion power steering system also carries over, similarly retuned. Turns from lock to lock are now 2.53 compared to 2.95 before, but the bigger dimensions have brought an increase in turning circle from 10.9m to 11.42m. Ground clearance is 185mm. 
 
Active variants have 17-inch alloy wheels, moving up to 18s on Elite and 19s on Highlander. All have a full-size alloy wheel. 
 
Braked towing capacity is 2000kg across the range. Kerb weight ranges from 1745kg to 1870kg on the petrol variants, while the diesels vary from 1870kg to 1995kg – similar figures to the previous model, despite the extra equipment. 
 
Hyundai says the chassis has 15 per cent more high-strength steel than before, a 14 per cent increase in body tensile strength and 14 per cent increase in torsional stiffness. 
 
All Hyundai models are covered by a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, 12 months’ roadside assistance and a ‘lifetime service plan’. 



2018 Hyundai Santa Fe pricing*

 
Active Petrol (a) $43,000
Active Diesel (a) $46,000
Elite Diesel (a) $54,000
Highlander Diesel (a) $60,500

*Excludes on-road costs


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