I recommended the diesel to two friends and they love it, although one has since downsized because they don't have to cart the kids around anymore. They got a good price for it too when they sold it privately which is always a good indicator that it's a desirable vehicle.
This is the third generation of the California-designed soft roader and remains true to the formula a biggish, practical but well equipped all-wheel drive wagon with seven seats that doesn't cost the earth. Our test vehicle, the mid-range Elite, is priced from $45,990 which includes an auto.
What a good looking bus. The previous one always looked a bit round and pudgy. This one on the other hand presents a sleeker, more sophisticated look. The two rear seats are among the biggest and best in the business. They can be used together or individually and can even accommodate adults at a pinch.
Anyone who has ridden in the back of a 4WD or people mover knows it can become claustrophobic back there and that makes air conditioning so important. The car comes with front and rear air with third row air-conditioning vents standard across the range.
The 2.2-litre turbo diesel is a gem. Producing 145kW of power and 436Nm of torque when paired with the auto (421Nm with the manual), it's nice and smooth, and delivers a generous mix of power and economy.
The diesel is paired with Hyundai's in-house six-speed auto, with the facility to change gears manually if desired. Everything is really new apart from the engine and transmission. It has been totally redesigned and sits on a new platform, with new suspension that has been tuned for Australian conditions.
Dual flow dampers are fitted designed to deliver a smoother more comfortable ride in normal conditions, but provide a firmer, more dynamic response when required. The new electric steering system is speed sensitive, more accurate and quicker to respond, and the driver dial in the level of assistance required with three settings from which to choose.
Fuel consumption is rated at 7.3 litres/100km and it has a 64-litre tank giving it a theoretical range of 867km. We haven't needed to fill it yet, so we'll wait and see how close the figure is to the manufacturer's claims.
Gets a full five stars for safety, with seven airbags as standard including a driver's knee bag to prevent the lower legs in an accident. It's equipped with electronic stability and traction control, along with Advanced Traction Cornering Control (ATCC), a reversing camera and rear parking sensors.
It's full of surprises. Leather and climate control air conditioning, push button start, electric brake it's got it all. Like the way lights tucked under the exterior mirrors turn on automatically when you walk up to the car.
Love the fact navigation is part of the deal too. It's a big, bright easy to use touchscreen that tells you what the speed limit is and warns of any speed cameras in the area that you're travelling through it even takes into account the traffic conditions when calculating the route.
If Kia can do it why do other car makers find it so difficult to provide this simple service every car should have this. The only thing missing that we would really like to see is a digital speedometer, or at least the option to display the car's speed digitally.
It's so important with so many speed camera these days. For some reason the Koreans haven't cottoned on to this yet? Having said that the speedo is easy to read so don't stress.
The Hyundai Santa Fe is one of our long time favourites.
Hyundai Santa Fe Elite
Price: from $45,990
Warranty: 5 year roadside
Engine: 2.2-litre diesel 4-cyl, 145kW/436Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, AWD
Thirst: 7.3L/100km, CO2 192g/km
Nissan X-Trail ST
Price: from $45,240
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel 4-cyl, 110kW/320Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, AWD
Thirst: 7.4L/100km, CO2 196g/km
Subaru Forester XT
Price: from $40,990
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel 4-cyl, 108kW/350Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, AWD
Thirst: 6.0L/100km, CO2 158g/km