Hyundai Santa Fe Active X 2017 review: weekend test
The seven-seat Santa Fe Active X plays in one of Australia's most contested segments. So we're putting it to the ultimate test to see how it measures up; transport duty for a kid's birthday party.
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Driving small cars has long proven a hazardous experience for families, with many a trip spent trying to mediate peaceful solutions between kids engaging in territorial wars over every square inch of back-seat space available.
I get the sense that my three kids view these small cars as a place where their personal space comes to die. The narrow confines of the cabin pretty much guarantee a melee of some sort will break out over who is hogging more than their fair share of the back seat.
Thankfully, salvation is at hand in the form of the Kia Sorento Si Limited.
This latest Sorento variant to join the Australian range is priced at $43,990 (with a V6 petrol engine) and comes equipped with an additional $3,000 worth of goodies over the entry-level Si, including 18-inch alloy wheels, partial leather seat trim, a premium steering wheel with faux wood trim and Limited badging.
So, would the Si Limited be roomy enough to placate three kids who value their “fair share of space” above all else? We had the weekend to find out.
With the football and netball seasons over I had to look at alternate ways of keeping the kids active. Having discovered a venue with indoor rock climbing, trampolining and dodge ball I was saved. I pre-booked tickets and we set off.
As large SUVs go the Sorento is not a bad looking car (even in the white mine came in) and it’s easy to overlook the fact there are seven seats and a heap of space lurking underneath.
With attention focused on the cabin the kids are quick to voice their excitement at the surprisingly generous amounts space (and seven seats) inside. They make the most of the seven-seat configuration and stake out a row each for themselves.
Ride height is at just the right mark with entry and exit a cinch, plus the added benefit of providing the kids with an improved view out the window compared to a hatch or sedan – something I can assure you they appreciate. The rear doors open wide, providing ample access to the rear seats – particularly useful for parents with babies or young kids in car seats.
Passengers are well catered for in the second-row with air vents and a centre armrest containing two cupholders and bottle holders in the doors.There are two ISOFIX points and three top-tether anchorage points for those needing to squeeze three small ones in car seats across the back.
Access to the third row can be a slightly awkward exercise, however. The second-row folds easily enough but does not tumble forward, which means you are left to try and shift the seat on its rails. My son didn’t care much for it and preferred to dive over the seats as if practising goalkeeping skills..
Once back there, the third row has plenty going for it. It’s anything but a token offering, with passengers treated to air vents and their very own set of aircon controls. The seats fold down to stow neatly in the boot and are incredibly easy to pull up. For taller kids, the second row seats can be adjusted forward and aft in order to help with additional leg room.
Passengers up front are equally well catered to, with comfy leather seats that adjust easily and provide a commanding view of the road up front. The reversing camera is highly necessary for the rear view.
Despite proving a massive success with the kids, two hours of rock climbing, trampolining and dodge ball did little to dampen their energy. Rather than heading home I decided a trip to the park was in order.
My son, riding with me upfront, darts straight for the 7.0-inch touchscreen to operate the six-speaker stereo. While the interface is incredibly easy to navigate, it is on the small side and the screen resolution of the reversing camera could be better.
At this juncture, it’s worth noting that there’s no Apple CarPlay and Android Auto available on any of the Sorento variants. Thankfully, sat nav comes as standard.
An hour at the park did little to dim their energy levels of the kids, but I was exhausted and pointed the Sorento home.
The Sorento was on light duties today with little on the schedule part from the usual Woolies run. The kids, still hyped up from the previous day’s activities, were keen to try out another rock-climbing venue, and that was the first destination of the day.
You need to try seriously hard to run out of places to put things in this car, with storage on a scale that would make IKEA sit up and take note, with hidey holes and nooks everywhere you look. It comes with six cup holders (which we made regular use of), two in each row, a bottle holder in each of the four doors, plus a cavernous centre console box and a hidey hole in front of the gear stick, containing 12V and USB plugs.
With all seven seats in play, boot space is a reasonable 320 litres (more than the Toyota Kluger and Mazda CX-9). This increases to an ample 605 litres with the third row folded, with an underfloor boot hidey hole providing another useful storage addition.
Apart from being incredibly smooth (a trait even the kids made mention of) the ride quality is fairly unremarkable. Being a large SUV, you do feel the lean in the corners but given its size and height it’s hardly unexpected and easily forgivable.
The V6 engine is a peach and delivered more than ample acceleration with all four of us on board, going about its business in a calm and composed manner. For those in need of a weekend workhorse, the Sorento has you covered with a towing capacity rated at 750kg unbraked and 2000kg braked.
After another successful climbing expedition we stopped by Woolies to buy the ingredients for the Sunday lamb roast before heading home. Parking the Sorento, whether it be on the street or in a shopping car park, was a non-event with good manoeuvrability and parking sensors front and rear to help.
Safety tech in the Si Limited includes six airbags, stability and traction controls and a five-star ANCAP rating, with hill-start assist control rounding out the standard kit.
It’s worth noting the $3000 worth of extras included with the Si Limited comes at no price increase over the entry-level Si model on which it’s based, once on-road costs are taken into account. The upshot being that Si Limited buyers receive $3000 of extra kit for the same cost as the Si.
Over the weekend I managed to clock up almost 350km of city and suburban driving with the trip computer indicating fuel consumption of 12.5/100km. Slightly more than the claimed 9.9L/100km (combined cycle).
The Sorento is a functional family hauler that hits the sweet spot of practicality, value and safety and proves that space doesn't have to come at a premium. What's more, the cavernous cabin and seven seats delivered sufficient space for all, resulting in record levels of peace and quiet. A return on investment I would happily take any day.
|GT-LINE (4x4)||2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$41,194 – 44,990||2017 KIA SORENTO 2017 GT-LINE (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|Platinum (4x4)||2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$38,060 – 44,770||2017 KIA SORENTO 2017 Platinum (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|Si (4x2)||3.3L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$27,990 – 28,377||2017 KIA SORENTO 2017 Si (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
|Si (4x4)||2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$27,771 – 33,990||2017 KIA SORENTO 2017 Si (4x4) Pricing and Specs|