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Hyundai Santa Fe Trail / Picture Location: New South Wales, Australia / Image Copyright

Hyundai Santa Fe Trail road test

by Ken Walker

19th August, 2012

Home > Road Tests > Hyundai

Test Car

Hyundai have continued their constant vehicle updates during 2012 and this time we have driven the special edition Santa Fe Trail.

Model background

The Santa Fe is the larger of the Korean manufacturer’s two SUV offerings on sale in Australia. Having debuted back in 2000, the Santa Fe’s is now in its second evolution and is nearing the end of this model cycle. The upcoming replacement model is set to arrive in Australia by the end of 2012 having been revealed at the New York International Auto Show earlier this year.

The Santa Fe Trail was released into showrooms around Australia in April this year offering extra value for buyers as the current shape near its end.

Hyundai Santa Fe Trail / Picture Location: New South Wales, Australia / Image Copyright

Variants & Prices

The addition of the Santa Fe Trail increases the range to four variants: the SLX, the Elite, the Highlander and the Trail.

Pricing for the entry level SLX starts at $36,990* for the 2WD V6 automatic.  The Trail is priced from $39,590* for the manual and $41,590* for the automatic. At the time of publishing this road test, Hyundai Australia was advertising special deals on manual versions. The offer included significantly discounted drive away pricing and a $1,000 department store gift voucher – check with your dealer for details as this, as is often the case, was on offer advertised for a limited time only.

The range topping Highlander model is priced from $45,490* when fitted with 2WD and the V6 petrol engine and increases to $48,490* when fitted with all wheel drive and the diesel engine. The Highlander includes luxuries such as electrically adjusted front seats, folding outside mirrors, sunroof, dual zone climate control air conditioning – over and above the features of the Trail.  


The Santa Fe Trail is fitted with a 2.2 Litre Common Rail Diesel injection power plant producing 145 kW at 3800 RPM and 436Nm in a rev range of 1800 – 2500 RPM. This package also featured the optional 6 speed automatic transmission.  The standard transmission is a 6 speed manual box. All wheel drive is standard on this package and includes a dash mounted switch to lock in power at 50/50 to the front and rear wheels.

The Trail is not available with a petrol engine.

Hyundai Santa Fe Trail / Picture Location: New South Wales, Australia / Image Copyright

Driving the Santa Fe Trail

Riding high on stylish 18” alloy wheels, comfort and visibility (in all directions) is very good from the driver’s seat.

Parking is made simple and somewhat safer thanks to the rear parking sensors and rear view camera displayed on the rear vision mirror. These are activated automatically when reverse gear is selected.

Power to weight ratio of this package seems to be more than adequate as acceleration is very brisk with a good space of gearbox ratios.   This vehicle is certainly not backward when it comes to performance. Not race car stuff mind you but good on the freeways and highways and around suburbia. Four wheel disc brakes bring it to a smooth stop.

Living with the Santa Fe Trail

The interior of the Santa Fe Trail is dominated by the (mostly) leather seats – there are leatherette coverings on parts. All the doors on Santa Fe open widely to allow easy entry/egress to the very comfortable leather seats. The steering wheel and gear knob in the Trail are leather bound for extra comfort.

The steering wheel includes audio controls and cruise control buttons and the steering column is reach and tilt adjustable.

It’s a full 7 seater, although the rear 2 positions are really only suitable for preteens on long trips. The centre row seats are 40/60 split with a centre arm rest containing 2 cupholders. For access to the rear seating positions the left hand seat slides forward.  All positions have a lap/sash retracting belt.

The Trail receives a roof mounted DVD system in the rear equipped including wireless headphones and remote control to keep passengers entertained. It’s compatible with gaming systems like Playstation also - if that’s what your kids like.

Connectivity wise – there is USB audio input and iPod connectivity. Unfortunately Bluetooth connectivity isn’t standard but is available as an accessory at extra cost.

Privacy glass is fitted to all windows rear of the B pillar, improving the look of the vehicle and comfort of passengers.

Hyundai Santa Fe Trail / Picture Location: New South Wales, Australia / Image Copyright


A 5 Star ANCAP rating has been achieved by Hyundai Santa Fe, the maximum available for vehicles sold in Australia.

Front driver and passenger airbags, dual side front (thorax) airbags together with side air bags extending to the 3rd row protect all the occupants in the event of an accident.

Also standard are front active headrests that minimize whiplash type injury. Three point retractable seat belts are fitted to all seating positions including the 3rd row passengers.

For added protection a rollover sensor monitors the angle of the vehicle to allow the timely intervention of restraint systems, such as seatbelt pretensioners and side airbags should the vehicle be at risk of overturning.

Anti lock brakes and electronic brakeforce distribution systems are both standard inclusions to improve control under heavy braking.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Traction Control System (TCS) are standard equipment on this model range.

The spare tyre is full size – on the same 18” alloy wheel as the other tyres. Front and rear fog lights are also standard.

Fuel and emissions

Hyundai Santa Fe Trail / Picture Location: New South Wales, Australia / Image Copyright

Hyundai claim fuel usage in the 2.2 CRDi auto variants to be 7.5 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle, with 9.4 on the urban cycle with 6.3 on the open road cycle.  These figures are quoted in accordance with ADR 81/02.  

CO2 emissions for this package are 197 grams per kilometre whilst the petrol version emits 17% more at 230 grams per kilometre.  

Santa Fe automatics have a fuel usage display allowing you to adjust your driving style to achieve the most fuel efficient driving method.

The fuel tank has a 70 litre capacity.


All Santa Fe models are equipped with cruise control, electric windows (front & rear), electric mirrors, trip computer and six speaker audio system including radio & CD player. The top spec Highlander is fitted with an in dash 6 CD stacker.

The Trail features chrome tailgate garnish and chrome dual exhaust outlets combine with the 18 inch alloys to add a touch of class to the exterior.

Hyundai Santa Fe Trail / Picture Location: New South Wales, Australia / Image Copyright


Length: 4,660 mm
Width: 1,890 mm (including side mirrors)
Height: 1,760 mm (including roof rails)
Wheelbase: 2,700mm
Weight: 2,620 kg (for diesel auto)
Minimum ground clearance:  200 mm

Tow capacity: unbraked 750 Kg, braked 2000 Kg

After Sales

The warranty package operates, with conditions, for the first five years of registration with no limit on kilometres travelled. Roadside assistance is available for the first year of registration.

Service intervals are 15,000 km or 1 year.


Overall, the Trail is very well equipped and is priced well to offer great value. The safety package is excellent and with more than reasonable fuel efficiency this is a very honest, capable package.

The Santa Fe Trail is worthy of consideration for any discerning motorist whether a family group or adventurous single.


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. Luxury Car Tax (LCT) and other statutory charges may be effected when options are added to the car. You should check with your preferred dealer for current pricing, availability and exact specification.


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