2013 All new Hyundai Santa Fe Launch Review

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Exterior – 4 snowHyundai has launched its all new Santa Fe seven-seat AWD SUV and has in some ways redefined the benchmark offering in the family 7 seat wagon market. The all new Hyundai Santa Fe AWD SUV starts from $36,990 MLP for the Active 2.4L Petrol 6 speed manual up to $49,990 MLP for the 2.2L diesel 6 speed automatic Highlander.

After spending a couple of days with the all new Santa Fe I have to say upfront that I reckon the only reason that Hyundai wont challenge the market leader in the large AWD SUV segment will be the ability to ensure enough supply. It’s an absolute gem of a vehicle.

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Exterior – 1

Visually the all new Santa Fe retains links to the model it replaces combined with its Fluidic Sculpture philosophy. As with the previous model the new Santa Fe is available in three trim levels (Active, Elite & Highlander) and is powered by an efficient Theta II 2.4-litre GDi petrol engine, or a powerful R-series 2.2-litre CRDi diesel engine and is available with a six-speed automatic with electronic sequential manual mode or six-speed manual transmission which achieves an combined best fuel economy of 6.6L/100km.

On the launch we drove the Santa Fe on a selection of roads including freeway, back roads, gravel and some poorly maintained forest trails. What impressed the most was the composure and quietness of all models.

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Exterior – 2

Externally the Santa Fe is subtly aerodynamic with style that combines a low profile stance, sleek rising beltline blended with three-dimensional moulding, body-side character lines, low profile roof rails, and rear roof spoiler.

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite and Highlander variants feature solar control glass with a privacy tint applied from the B-pillar backwards. Designed to reduce and moderate cabin temperatures, it also shields cargo from prying eyes. The rear most windows are quite small and passengers can feel closed in when sitting in the third row seats

Wheel arch and surround mouldings house a collection of new design alloy wheels matched to each trim level. Active 17-inch alloy wheels & 235/65 R17 tyres. Elite 18-inch alloy wheels & 235/60 R18 tyres. Highlander 19-inch alloy wheels & 235/55 R19 tyres

Hyundai Santa Fe Active Interior  dash 1

Jump inside the Santa Fe and the style story continues with all new interiors. Depending on the model the seats are either cloth or leather/leatherette, the door arm rests are a soft feel and the dash across the vehicle has an unusual design but is soft touch as well. I preferred the Active grey tone as opposed to the two tone of the Elite and Highlander. Interior lighting is a feature with a premium feel arising from map lamps, mood lamps, and cabin lighting.

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Interior MFD

In front of the driver is a soft feel steering wheel with controls that fall easily to hand. The dash features two large dials housing speedo and tacho with temperature, fuel, water temp and transmission within the dials. Between the two large dials lies a multi function display that provides clean clear information on a wide array of vehicle information including trip computer, distance to empty, odometer reading, service intervals and more.

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Interior flex steer

The steering wheel is thick rimmed and both height and reach adjustable. One new feature is the Flex steer adjustment that allows the driver to select the level of feedback and input to the steering with a button mounted at the bottom of the wheel. The adjustments are subtle but noticeable from comfort, normal and sport.

Tall drivers can make themselves very comfortable with multi adjustable memory electric seats in the upper models. However one small gripe is the angle of the left foot rest just seems too flat to provide long term comfort.

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Interior dash 1

The centre console stack houses the usual controls with a 4″ screen audio system in the Active and a 7″ screen sat nav in the other two models. The stereo in all the model ranges is adequate and the 10 speaker surround system in the upper models belts out your favourite songs crisply.

There is ample storage and stowage options including moulded cup holders to fit large and small bottles, spacious seat back pockets, smaller door pockets, and clever tubs and wells conveniently located in the centre console.

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Interior rear seats

The new Santa Fe offers a myriad of seating possibilities with a flexible, multi-function second row which operates with forward-and-back slide; recline for passenger comfort, and 40:20:40 split to offer convenience for loading and stowage. They are adequately comfortable but really for two not three people.

Elite and Highlander models offer a 12-way power driver’s seat, with four-way lumbar support to ensure perfect driving posture, while Highlander models have added heated front and second row (outboard) seating.

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Interior boot area

The third row features 50:50 split full-folding seating, best suited for smaller children with shorter legs. Head room and visibility are restricted. In addition the third row seats can be folded flat and second row seats almost flat to offer optimal load transporting capability, and a one-touch fold lever conveniently allows operation of the second row fold from the rear cargo space.

A lightweight luggage screen cover is standard across the range and the screen can be stored in a purpose-designed space in the cabin for ease and safety.

While the entry level Active is well credentialed with a host of standard features that will make some other manufacturers revise their entry offerings, the Elite and Highlander models offer a suite of extra features.

Key standard features across the range include: seven seats, seven-airbags, rear view camera, rear park assist, automatic dusk-sensing projector beam headlamps, electric lumbar support, standard safety technology: VSM, ESC, TCS, ABS, EBD, BAS, HAC & DBC., advanced Traction Cornering Control (ATCC), front & rear air-conditioning with third row air-conditioning vents, AWD, MDPS with Hyundai Flex-Steer™ system, full iPod®/USB connectivity and Bluetooth® hands-free phone system.

Other features include : 4.3″ touch screen audio system (Active models), 7” touch screen premium audio system with satellite navigation with SUNA live traffic & 3-year MapCare™ plan (Elite & Highlander models), Climate control air conditioning (Elite & Highlander), Glove box cooling (Elite & Highlander), 12-Way power driver’s seat (Elite & Highlander), Electrochromatic rear view mirror with compass (Elite & Highlander), Full-length panoramic glass sunroof (Highlander), HID Xenon headlamps and LED rear combination lamps (Highlander), Power front passenger’s seat (Highlander), Heated front and second row (outboard) seats (Highlander) and solar control glass with a privacy tint designed to reduce and moderate cabin temperatures, and offer additional concealment and security.

A clever touch is the addition, in Elite and Highlander models, of a manually operated retractable mesh blind cleverly hidden in the top of the rear door trims for enhanced security or further protection from sun ingress for children.

Add to that an ingenious door wrap design that Hyundai claims will see the end of dirty trouser bottoms, skirts and dresses. The system employs a decreased bottom door frame width to ensure mud, dirt and road grime is swung away from the door, rather than catching and collecting.

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Interior  Sun Roof

On the Highlander model, the full-length panoramic sunroof is an electric tilt and slide glass roof which allows natural light to flood the cabin. The sunroof has been designed to open fully or tilt open, offering flexibility and functionality, and features an adjustable full-length shade which affords the cabin effective heat insulation.

The new Santa Fe is available with two powertrain options – the Theta II 2.4-litre GDi petrol available in Active models, or the powerful R-Series 2.2-litre CRDi diesel engine available in all trim levels across the range.

Hyundai Santa Fe GDi Petrol

New to the Santa Fe line-up and developed by Hyundai engineers over almost four years, at a cost of more than $150 million, the Theta-II 2.4-litre petrol engine utilises the latest gasoline direct injection (GDi) technology to deliver a peak power output of 141 kW @ 6300 rpm and maximum torque of 242 Nm @ 4250 rpm. Fuel usage is 9.0L/100KM and CO2g/km is 209.

The Theta-II high-tech 16-valve engine features Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (DCVVT) and a Variable Induction System (VIS) for better engine breathing.

Hyundai Santa Fe CRDi Diesel

The new Santa Fe offers the powerful R-Series 2.2-litre Common Rail Direct injection (CRDi) diesel engine featuring a Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) to minimise turbo lag and increase efficiency at higher engine speeds. The intercooled turbo engine produces maximum torque of 421 Nm (manual) and 436 Nm (auto) between 1800 and 2500 RPM and 145 kW of power at 3800 rpm. Fuel usage is 6.6L/100km for the manual and 7.3L/Km for the auto. CO2g/km is 174 for the manual and 192 for the auto.

Hyundai design and manufacture their own transmissions, and provide a choice of either a six-speed manual, or optional six-speed automatic transmission with sequential manual mode.

The six-speed manual transmission utilises multi-cone synchronisers for improved shift quality, and the inclusion of a button-operated reverse gear lock-out provides ease of operation, whilst the short stroke provides a quick, relatively smooth and accurate shift action.

The six-speed automatic transmission with sequential manual mode is characterised by smooth gear shifting and exceptional fuel economy. The use of an ultra-flat torque converter results in improved durability and weight efficiency.

The combination 2.2L CRDi motor and the 6 speed automatic transmission is one of the better on the market and certainly a leader in this segment. It is without doubt the pick of the combinations.

Hyundai have gone to great lengths to tune the calibration of the suspension system and hence handling and driving dynamics to Australian conditions. Over the launch we drove on some poorly maintained forest trails and the Santa Fe handled them with ease It was surefooted, quiet and maintained composure.

Assisting this composure is speed sensitive Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS), which is standard on the new Santa Fe, utilising an electric motor to enable varying degrees of power assistance for varied conditions. MDPS not only minimises weight and fuel consumption, but also integrates with the Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) system.  MDPS tuning for each of the Flex Steer™ settings was performed locally in order to optimise the system for Australian conditions.

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Exterior – 4 sand

Hyundai’s new Advanced Traction Cornering Control (ATCC) system distributes torque via an electro-mechanical multi-plate 4WD coupling, working in conjunction with the Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) system, to anticipate traction requirements and deliver additional vehicle stability. ATCC can mechanically transfer torque from front to rear and apply individual brakes to make pro-active adjustments to the torque delivery through each wheel.

Luckily I can attest to the quality of the Vehicle Stability Management system when rounding a corner on one of the forest trails with a bank on one side and drop off on the other side, came face to face with a 4 tonne truck travelling fairly fast smack bang in the middle of the road. Now I would like to brag that it was my superb driving skills that saved the day, but the reality was that without the assistance of the VSM system we could have been in some serious trouble.

The new Santa Fe operates with an active AWD system, which assesses road conditions and automatically implements rear wheel traction control for optimum full-time all-wheel-drive performance.

The 4WD ‘Lock’ mode is engaged at the push of a button, conveniently located on the console, and instantly arms a 50/50 power split front-to-rear. When the vehicle reaches an on-road speed of 40 km/h the system switches to ‘Auto’ mode, and once vehicle speed decreases to 40 km/h or less the system will re-engage and operate in ‘lock’ mode.

Unfortunately the all new Santa Fe won’t be as capable as the model it replaces with more plastic to leave behind, however for beach driving, forest trails etc it is more than adequate for what active drivers want especially with the Downhill Brake Control assistance.

Safety is a key feature and with the ANCAP rating yet to come, I believe a 5 star rating should be awarded.

The new Santa Fe features seven airbags standard across the range including driver and front passenger, driver knee, driver and front passenger side (thorax) and side curtain airbags (front and second row).

All models also feature a reverse camera built into the tailgate handle, which relays images via the in-dash 4.3” (Active) or 7” (Elite and Highlander) touch screen.

A four-head rear parking sensor system operates via parking sensors mounted on the rear bumper when parking or manoeuvring the vehicle in confined spaces. In addition to an audible alarm when an obstacle is detected, the centre cluster shows which of the four sensors are active.

The new Santa Fe is protected by a security system which includes; central locking, engine immobiliser, Hyundai Active Locking Operation (HALO) including speed sensing auto door locking, auto-door unlock and inside door unlock function, impact sensing door unlock system and keyless entry with alarm.

The extensive use of High Tensile Steel in key structural locations, combined with targeted enhanced structure connection and reinforcement, further improves crashworthiness and overall vehicle integrity.

Hyundai’s commitment to quality gives the company the confidence to back the new Santa Fe range with the comprehensive Hyundai iCare* programme, offering a suite of ownership benefits including the introduction of a Capped Price Service schedule at $289 for the Theta II 2.4-litre petrol engine, and $379 for the R-series 2.2-litre diesel engine per annum. Each 12 month/15,000km service ensures the cost of vehicle ownership and operation is transparent, and provides real-time value to owners.

New Santa Fe MLP pricing^

Active Petrol
6 Sp Manual $36,990
6 Sp Automatic $38,990
Active CRDi
6 Sp Manual $39,990
6 Sp Automatic $41,990
Elite CRDi
6 Sp Automatic $ 45,990
Highlander CRDi
6 Sp Automatic $49,990

Note: ^All prices are Manufacturer’s List Price. Price includes GST, but excludes dealer delivery and on-road costs.

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Exterior – 3 rear

So there we have the all new Hyundai Santa Fe AWD SUV. For a family that aspires to an active lifestyle, wants a vehicle that is packed with features, has advanced safety and handling as well as some premium touches that are often found on expensive European imports, the Santa Fe has to be, or should be near the top of your shopping list. Its competitors, the Ford Territory, Toyota Kluger and Kia Sorrento should all be looking to revise their offerings.

It’s no secret that we here at OzRoamer are big fans of the Hyundai Santa Fe with it taking out the 2010 AWD SUV of the year award. The all new Santa Fe with the exception that it is slightly less aimed at off road, should be a top contender for the award again this year.


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