The Hyundai Santa Fe has been on showroom forecourts since 2000 and is classed as a Crossover, a streetwise 4x4 with soft-roading capabilities. Its bullish, aggressive stance was not completely liked by the media, but ironically the public loved the vehicle.
With its brutish, wide front end, strong grille and squat stance, it has a wide unobstructed windscreen, and a gently sloping roof line. Designers gave the rear a small top spoiler and slightly curved tailgate with pronounced rear light clusters.
The producers kept faith with the original concept and only brought about design changes in 2007 when the second generation Santa Fe was released. This lost some of its aggressive appearance, and they fattened the car’s lines up a little. The second generation had larger lights, a smaller grille, and fitted in more with the other 4X4s on the market.
The third and latest generation, rolled out in 2013, saw a change to the wheelbase, added 3-seat and 5-seat versions, and the capability of taking six or seven passengers. The extension from the B-Pillar backwards has both increased passenger comfort and allowed for more cargo space, especially when the third row seats are collapsed.
Performance in the Santa Fe is generated with either the Theta II 2.4L GDi engine or the 2.2 L R-Series CRDi diesel engines. There are two choices of transmission, the 6-speed automatic with manual mode or a 6-speed manual gearbox.
Fuel economy is the watch word these days, and the current crop of Santa Fe’s achieve a combined rating of 6.6L/100Km. The 2.4L engine produces 141Km of power and a torque level of 242Nm. However, it is a little thirstier on fuel, needing 9.0L/100Km. Acceleration is not at lightning speed, but when you are built for rough riding, the pickup from 0-100K/h of 9.8 seconds is adequate enough.
The newer car’s stability systems give it less body roll than the earlier models, and it manages uneven roads and bumpy terrain sufficiently well. The Flexi Steer system allows drivers to choose between the Comfort, Normal, and Sports options, depending on the driving experience sought or road conditions to hand.
The Hyundai brand is synonymous with providing well-equipped vehicles, and the Santa Fe has always followed that maxim. Customers find their cars are full of technology, gadgets, and innovation as standard kit with good options available too. Hyundai offers the Santa Fe in three trim levels, the Active, the Elite, and the luxury level Highlander range.
The safety features include rear view camera, parking sensors, seven air bags, dusk sensor headlights, and an all-wheel drive function. No car these days would be without Anti-Brake Systems, Electronic Brake Distribution, Advanced Traction Cornering Control, and ESC, and on the Santa Fe they all combine to give it a 5-star ANCAP rating.
The interior is well connected with Bluetooth audio streaming, Duel Zone Climate Control, and USB ports. The latest models have cool, blue backlit dashboard dials and a nicely designed feel to the vehicle’s interior. With the Elite trim you get extras like a 7” touch screen, 18” alloys, rain sensitive wipers, sat nav, ten-speaker CD/radio system, push button start, and climate control. The top level trim gives you 19” alloys, auto-dimming side mirrors, and heated front and second row seats.
When the Hyundai Santa Fe first hit the dirt tracks, it was bouncing against the Pontiac Aztek and the combined project Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute. The later-released Fort Territory gave it a good run for its money, as well. Today’s models face off against Holden’s Captiva, Mazda’s CX-5 Grand Touring, and the Kia’s Sorento. Lately the competition in this class has been as tough as the terrain, and the Santa Fe also sees itself up against the class masters in the Toyota RAV4 and Land Rover Freelander.
Any 4x4s are ultimately built for their practicality, and the Santa Fe accomplishes this. It is not going to win a beauty contest, but its rugged, need-a-shave looks will get you around town, down to the beach, and off the campsite with no problems.
Hyundai is a brand that has poor residual values, which means if you are purchasing second hand you should be able to find a quality-made 4X4 at a reasonable price. Check it out though to make sure it has not seen too much bush busting before coming onto the used market. This is a great value 4x4 and competes well in its class.