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Hyundai Santa Fe road test

by Stephen Walker

26th August, 2014

Home > Road Tests > Hyundai

Psst, just quietly, Hyundai was the second best selling brand, behind Toyota, for passenger car sales in Australia last month. Yet just thirty years ago the brand didn't even exist locally.

One reason for Hyundai's success is that the Korean brand has taken advantage of the fragmentation of the new car market by having a diverse range of cars on offer. And there are still more new models to come. This will further advantage car buyers and the maker alike because of the increased diversification of the marketplace.

Hyundai's popularity is based on having suitable product available to meet the requirements of the market. And SUVs are very popular. I expect Hyundai will eventually have a third SUV on the market so as to fully capitalise on the interest in these vehicles. Recently, Next Car drove the smaller ix35 and now we drive the larger of the two Hyundai SUVs, the seven-seater Santa Fe.

Test car particulars

On this occasion, the test car was the Hyundai Santa Fe - the Highlander version, the top-of-the-line in this popular model series. The Santa Fe Highlander comes standard with a diesel engine, automatic transmission, all-wheel drive and lots of goodies as standard fitment.


Hyundai Santa Fe variants are priced from $38,490* to $51,990*.

The test car, a Santa Fe Highlander is the one priced from $51,990*. Metallic and Pearl paintwork is optional at $595*. Hence the test car was priced at $52,585*. You may be thinking that this is a lot money and you are correct. However, the Highlander is well equipped and it is a very pleasing car to drive too.

Driving the Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander

Naturally, the elevated driving position of an SUV will be welcomed by many as will the easy entry and egress of this model.

With a comfortable interior, presented in a single-tone, the Highlander proved spacious for the occupants. We couldn't help but admire the 'right size' of the Santa Fe - not too big, not too small.

We only covered 240 kilometres in our solely urban driving experience but we couldn't help but feel relaxed about the pleasant driving characteristics. The smoothness of the drive and the ambience of the interior confirmed the worthiness of the price tag.

Highlander equipment

A big panoramic glass roof, a glove box with cooling, heated front seats and even some heating for the back seat too. And there are electrically adjustable seats up the front, with selectable memory for the driver's seat. The electric parking brake is a welcome feature - this feature is no longer reserved for prestige cars, even though not all prestige cars have this convenient feature. The seating is leather or pretend leather.

Highlander also has automatic 'dipping' external rear view mirrors.


A petrol engine is available with the base model Santa Fe the Active and a diesel is also available. However, the mid-spec Elite and the top of the line Highlander come with 2.2 litre 4-cylinder diesel engine which provides 145kW of power at 3,800rpm and a handy 436Nm of torque between 1,800 and 2,500rpm.

The Highlander has a six-speed automatic transmission and an 'active on demand' all-wheel drive system.

It's disc brakes all around in the usual manner. Anti-skid Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist System (BAS) is fitted.

Five 19" alloy wheels are standard.

Suspension is McPherson struts up the front with a multi-link independent rear suspension system.

Steering is by way of a motor driven power assistance system. The turning circle is 10.9 metres - an excellent figure.


The fuel consumption rating is 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle for the diesel.

In an urban environment the rating comes in at 9.6 litres per 100km and 5.9 litres/100 km on highway running.

The fuel tank capacity is 64 litres.


Santa Fe Highlander comes with 7" Satellite navigation; Premium audio system featuring 6 speakers, 2 tweeters, centre speaker and sub-woofer all powered by an external amplifier; MP3 CD player with AM/FM tuner; AUX/USB audio input with digital iPod® compatibility; Bluetooth® connectivity (Hands free phone operation & audio streaming) for compatible devices and steering wheel mounted audio & phone controls.


Airbags provide protection for occupants of the first and second row of seats - specifically Driver and front passenger airbags; Dual side front (thorax & pelvis) airbags; Side curtain airbags (front & second row) and Driver's knee airbag.

Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) & Traction Control System (TCS) is included.

A reversing camera is standard on each of the Santa Fe variants and this is to be commended.

ANCAP rate the crash worthiness of the Santa Fe that was tested with five stars, scoring 35.63 points (out of 37). The test was conducted by EuroNCAP on a LHD diesel variant.


Length: 4,690 mm
Width: 1,880 mm (including external mirrors)
Height: 1,690 mm (with roof rails)
Wheelbase: 2,700 mm
Luggage capacity: 516 L (as a 5-seater)
Weight: 1,968 kg (approx).

Four-wheel drive aspects

Ground clearance: 185 mm
Approach angle: 16.9 degrees
Departure angle: 21.5 degrees
Ramp break over angle: 17.1 degrees


Santa Fe, with appropriate towing and trailer braking equipment, can haul 2,000kg. An unbraked trailer (together with its load) of no more than 750kg combined weight can be towed with the relevant precautions.

After Sales

A five year/unlimited kilometre warranty for private owners comes with the Santa Fe (conditions apply).

Roadside assistance is included for the first year of private ownership and this is extended if a Hyundai dealer services the car in accordance with the scheduled service programme (conditions apply).

Capped price servicing is a feature with new Hyundais. It applies for the first 3 years/45,000km (conditions apply).


The Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander pleases with its spacious cabin and smooth driving manners. Whilst the top-of-the-line model appears pricey you can be sure that it is quite competitive in its class and the satisfying ride quality together with the comfort level will soon have you forgetting about the financial outlay. It is the top of the line after all.

NOTE: * Manufacturer's List Price (MLP) excludes dealer delivery fees and the numerous statutory charges (commonly known as on-road costs). Additionally, please note that all prices, fees and charges are subject to change without notice, as are the specifications.


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