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Hyundai Santa Fe 2007 review

It has taken Korean importer Hyundai to say what most already know, a city AWD is all about talking the talk rather than walking the walk.

“Most owners do not need, or even demand, all-wheel-drive in their SUVs,” Hyundai product planning manager Ben Hershman said at this week's launch of the Santa Fe 3.3-litre.

“The story for the majority of owners of these cars is the size, the space and the style. For that reason we have chosen to go with the 3.3 V6 as a front-wheel-drive only.”

Since the launch of the Tucson City compact SUV as a front-wheel-drive the model mix has been 82 per cent in favour of the two-wheel-drive car.

“There are some who do want the capacity of AWD and for those buyers there is AWD in the 2.7-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel,” Hershman says.

The 3.3 V6 — the 180kW and 309Nm unit from the Sonata range comes in the same three trims as the existing models, the SX five-seater at $37,990, the SLX seven-seater at $40,990 and the range-topping Elite seven-seater at $46,490, which is $2500 below a similarly specified diesel model.

The only gearbox option is the five-speed automatic. Hyundai Australia boss Steve Yeo says the biggest stumbling block in Australia remains the gap between the marque's actual and perceived quality levels.

“Perception is still lagging a little bit behind reality,” Yeo says. “To take the next step we need to change people's perceptions of the product.”

Yeo says changing the mindset from the company's early days in Australia as the “drive away, no more to pay” bargain basement dweller is taking longer than he would like.

“People are slowly starting to understand that Hyundai is at the very top of quality and satisfaction surveys from overseas markets, particularly in the United States,” Yeo says.

“Because we are choosing to use quality materials and high-standard levels of equipment, competitive pricing can be a challenge against makers from countries with a more favourable exchange rate.”

The V6 Santa Fe is essentially unchanged from the current models, with the company insisting the only changes are a slightly softer spring in the rear to compensate for the absence of the rear differential.

Overall weight for the 3.3 is down about 100kg over the equivalent AWDs, but because of the larger engine it doesn't equate to better fuel economy.

Hyundai's figures show a 10.7 litres per 100km combined cycle. The return on the launch drive was closer to 11.5 per 100km, that was over a 210km drive on freeway and twisting mountain roads. What was evident from the first corner was the car's more refined and composed steering.

Hyundai's engineers, while conceding the 3.3 offers a less frantic experience at the wheel, insist there have been no changes to either components or tuning to accommodate the V6. On reasonable surfaces the Santa Fe rides light with passenger comfort to the fore.

Push on as the surface deteriorates and there is a degree of initial movement on the suspension into corners, but the chassis soon settles with confidence-inspiring surety.

The standard ESP and traction control is not aggressive but steps in smoothly when the car begins to move around on loose surfaces. Launch vehicles were top-end Elite trim, no doubt to underscore fit and finish quality. The interior could be from any high-end manufacturer, with first-class fit and fitment, quality levels of materials and equipment, and nice touches.

Demure blue lighting in both the instrument display and centre cool box, front and rear power outlets, full-size spare and airconditioning with pollen filter all go the extra yard.


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Range and Specs

Elite (4x4) 2.7L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $6,200 – 9,570 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe 2007 Elite (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Elite (FWD) 3.3L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $7,700 – 11,880 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe 2007 Elite (FWD) Pricing and Specs
Elite CRDi (4x4) 2.2L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO $5,800 – 8,910 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe 2007 Elite CRDi (4x4) Pricing and Specs
SLX (4X4) 2.7L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $5,200 – 8,030 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe 2007 SLX (4X4) Pricing and Specs
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.