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Hyundai Santa Fe review

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    Everything is really new apart from the engine and transmission. Photo Gallery

Chris Riley road tests and reviews the new Hyundai Santa Fe with specs, fuel economy and verdict.

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


Nissan X-Trail - see other Nissan X-trail verdicts


Subaru Forester XT
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel 4-cyl, 108kW/350Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, AWD
6.0L/100km, CO2 158g/km


Subaru Forester - see other Subaru Forester verdicts



Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 4 comments

  • Shame bluetooth is optional on all levels…

    Brian of Adelaide Posted on 28 January 2013 5:08pm
  • i just upgraded from 2010 santa fe highlander to the new sante fa highlander limited edition “the only difference it it has burnt orange color leater interier” looks great.
    i find it has a little more leg room for the driver but the steering colum doesn`t go up enough one more inch and it would be perfect to enter the third row is a little hard as the second row seat doesn`t lift up only the back folds down. as the last model the back folds down and the seat lifts up given you lots of room to enter. fuel consubtion around town and very little hwy is great get 600km with 60lt.

    Tony of melbourne Posted on 03 January 2013 2:25pm
  •   Great vehicle and I’d like one myself. I’ve never had a digital speedo and do remember a falcon Ghia mode many years back that was plagued with issues. I prefer the standard speedo needle thanks.

      I agree with Vern regarding the towball weight. This car would have stolen so many sales off the landcruiser for the grey nomads but an opportunity lost imo.  Even so it’s a cracker of a vehicle. Fantastic looks and a great drive (I tested the elite diesel) .

    Santefe FTW of Cairns Posted on 10 December 2012 9:52pm
  • Any SUV review should look seriously at its towing prospects. For the size and price, combined with a truly great motor, you would think that this could be just the shot for the grey nomads, or even small family caravanning. But no, even though Hyundai pretends it can tow 2000 kgs, it only can handle 100 kgs on the towball, not even enough for a decent box trailer.

    Vern of Brisbane Posted on 10 December 2012 3:43pm
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