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Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander 2016 review

2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander

The Hyundai Santa Fe has been one of the top choices for a seven-seat family SUV for some time now.

Despite newer versions of the Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Kluger and Kia Sorento all arriving after the third-generation Santa Fe, an update at the end of 2015 has helped maintain its appeal.

The top spec Highlander continues to be the most popular version of the Santa Fe, and here’s our top 5 reasons to buy it.

Explore the Hyundai Santa Fe range:

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#1 Size and versatility

At 4700mm, the Santa Fe is a bit shorter than its newer rivals, which along with a lower bonnet makes it surprisingly easy to manoeuvre in tight situations.

The middle row of seats slide to balance room across all rear passengers, so if you’re seating short people in the middle you can give taller third row passengers more space and vice versa.

Third row passengers also get their own ventilation van control, and the seats are all pretty easy to put up and down.

There’s also a total of four 12V power sockets, and cargo storage ranges from a generous 516 litres VDA with the third row up to 1516 litres with both rear rows folded.

#2 Equipment

The Highlander has all the toys you could really ask for, as standard. From leather trim, to satnav, to a glass panoramic sunroof, electric tailgate, heated and ventilated front seats, active cruise control and a full-size alloy spare.

The Highlander also has an auto parking system, which can deal with both parallel and 90-degree parking spots.

#3 Safety

The Santa Fe is the first in its class to offer AEB, which is fitted standard to the Highlander. Aside from a maximum five star ANCAP safety rating, the Highlander also gets blind spot, lane departure and rear cross traffic alerts.

#4 Diesel engine

The Highlander gets a responsive and efficient 147kW/440Nm 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine standard. Its lazy urge and highway efficiency is better suited to the typical usage of these vehicles than a big petrol V6, and is rated at an impressive 7.7L/100km on the combined cycle.

#5 Design

The Santa Fe’s basic ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design may be four years old, but minor changes with last year’s facelift has helped it keep its edgy, hatch on steroids look that many people will prefer over the ‘king of the road’ look of some big SUVs.


Santa Fe areas that require consideration include less headroom in the third row than the Kluger or Sorento, along with less cargo space with the third row up due to the Santa Fe’s shorter body.

Also, the ride is nice and soft around town, but the handling isn’t quite as sharp at higher speeds as some rivals, and there’s a bit more cabin noise than the Sorento.

You’ll find anything Santa Fe-related at our Santa Fe hub here.

More: See all Hyundai SUVs here.

Related: Check out our buying guide for seven-seat SUVs here.

Plus: Find all Hyundai models here.

Would you prefer the Santa Fe’s slightly smaller exterior over its roomier rivals? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe pricing and spec info.

2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander specifications

Price: from $55,990
Warranty: 5 years, unlimited km
Safety: 5 stars
Engine: 2.2-litre 4-cyl turbo, 147kW/440Nm
Transmission: 6-speed torque converter auto; AWD
Thirst: 7.7L/100km
Dimensions: 4700mm (L), 1880mm (W), 1690mm (H)