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2010 Hyundai Santa Fe Review - Not just a facelift (Australia)

January 5th, 2010
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Read the complete Hyundai Santa Fe review

Not just a facelift…

…but rather, “the new Santa Fe ‘R’ series has had a full nip/tuck, wax, makeover and nose job” according to Hyundai.  It’s true, the Santa Fe has received a wide array of technical and cosmetic upgrades for 2010.  Including, importantly, many technical advancements that will aid them in their recently announced pursuit of Global Green Leader.  With prices starting from $37,990 it brings the latest in diesel technology at an affordable price.

The other exciting news from the Hyundai camp was that this new Santa Fe R outperformed the competition to claim the SUV class (the only other SUV competing was the ‘other’ Korean SUV) in the transcontinental Global Green Challenge from NT to Adelaide City Centre.  Using just 160.46L over 3147 kilometres, the Santa Fe achieved a fuel consumption of 5.1L/100km – surpassing its official figures of 6.7 L/100km (7.5 l/100km for automatic).

How are these improvements achieved?  Well, there’s a new six speed automatic that is shorter, lighter, more efficient and more powerful – whilst having 62 less parts.  It’s maintenance free as it’s sealed and filled with transmission fluid that’s good for the life of the vehicle.  The performance increases are thanks to closer spacing’s between each gear, thanks to the extra sixth gear.  An optimum shift light on the dash helps the existing 6 speed manual improve its performance and efficiency… But, it’s what drives it that is most impressive – a new AUD227 million R-2.2 diesel engine, offering improved power and torque (27% increase to 145kw and 436Nm) as well as reduced fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions (that’s the part I like). 

Hyundai Sante Fe

How did it drive?  Quite nicely actually; a lot of torque, with the manual third gear being my favourite for the winding Adelaide Hills whilst the delivery of the power on the open roads was reasonably smooth.  The steering is responsive (as well as quicker – 3 turns lock to lock) and there’s not too much turbo lag to speak of…but there is a touch of torque steer from the front wheel drive.  Dirt road with the AWD switched on (from the somewhat awkward but I-guess-it-makes-sense-as-most-people-don’t-use-it-all-that-much button location) and the Santa Fe is quite comfortable.  That’s helped by the ESP Stability Control and Traction Control being standard on all models.

If you miss a turn and have to do a three point turn on the dirt road, the Highlander comes with an Electro-Chromatic mirror, with a small colour LCD screen for your reversing camera, which is quite effective and easy to see and disappears without a trace once you’re moving forward in the planned direction. 

The interior has been touched up with some carbon graphite and aluminium styled finishes.  There is provision for your USB/MP3/iPod as well as heated side mirrors, steering wheel mounted controls for your music and your cruise control, and beeps that let you know when you’re reversing into danger – all standard.  In fact, the list of STANDARD features do make the Santa Fe R quite a strong value for money proposition, and indeed, a class leader in many categories.

Another standard is seven seats across all models.  Which makes it a great family car, not a people mover however, as my short stint in the rear made me a touch car sick.  People under 5’10” will be very comfortable in there.  The second row of seats was far more pleasing, with map lights and ventilation all round and then it can tumble away to give you greater access to the third row (which also tuck into the cargo floor very conveniently).

Hyundai Santa fe

The exterior facelift and nip/tuck includes several external styling enhancements. A new radiator grille with a flying chrome wing replaces the two-slat matt black grille of the predecessor. Front and rear bumpers, headlamps, fog lamps and rear combination lights have also been revised. New wheel designs mean 17” alloy wheels on the SLX and Elite, and 18” alloys are standard on the Highlander. Revised side sill mouldings, sportier exhaust tips and streamlined roof racks provide the finishing touches.  A rear spoiler helps in aerodynamics/fuel efficiency and adds a nice touch to the rear…I can’t say I love the updated modern taillight cluster, nor the boot handle position.  However, the latter I had to admit is actually in a very useful position, whereas the former seems a little, well, cheap.

5 Star Safety.  The Santa Fe R has lifted its crash performance to the maximum 5* rating in the ANCAP assessment program. In order to achieve this many passive and active features have been added or made standard.  Standard on all models is ESP Stability Control, which includes Hyundai’s Traction Control System (TCS).  Driver and front passenger airbags, dual side front (thorax) airbags and front and rear passenger side curtain airbags that extend to the third row are standard across all three grades.  An interesting new feature is Rollover sensors on all models which, should the vehicle be at risk of overturning, trigger the side and curtain airbags, and seatbelt pretensioners.

Hyundai Santa fe

We didn’t get to play with many of the accessories, but there are many available for the families on long trips interested in keeping the family entertained.  Including:  Roof-mounted DVD entertainment to keep the kids engaged on road trips. It also plays audio CDs or MP3 compilation CDRs and is also Sony PlayStation® and Nintendo console-compatible. The Bluetooth® Phone Kit enables the driver to connect a Bluetooth® enabled phone, and at the touch of a button, talk to family and friends wirelessly, through the car’s audio system.  There is also a direct connection for iPod® that allows you to plays all music directly from an iPod® through the vehicle’s sound system, adjustable through either steering wheel or conventional controls.  To help parking in tight spaces, Front Park Assist is available, emitting an ultrasonic signal to alert the driver of approaching objects - which may be outside the field of vision.  And when you need to carry a range of lifestyle equipment, such as a snowboard, skis, bikes or kayak, there are the Whispbar™ Quiet roof racks, which are quick and easy to fit and remove.

Hyundai Santa Fe

Overall, the Korean’s have done a great job of offering an affordable, value packed, fuel efficient, power increased, very safe SUV to the market – and although the styling may leave a touch to be desired, in my opinion, it still remains a very good buy and a strong presence in the medium SUV market currently dominated (sales wise) by Toyota Kluger, Holden Captiva and Ford Territory…

New Santa Fe range – manufacturer’s list prices:
New Santa Fe 7 seat SLX R-2.2 turbo Diesel 6-speed manual $37,990 MLP*
New Santa Fe 7 seat SLX R-2.2 turbo Diesel 6-speed auto $39,990 MLP*
New Santa Fe 7 seat Elite R-2.2 turbo Diesel 6-speed auto $43,990 MLP*
New Santa Fe 7 seat Highlander 2.2 R turbo Diesel 6-speed auto $48,490 MLP*
Optional metallic/mica paint $375 MLP*

Note: *MLP includes GST, but excludes dealer delivery and statutory charges. On-sale date is December 1, 2009.

New Santa Fe – powertrain highlights:
2.2 CRDi turbo Diesel (3rd generation common rail with piezo electric injectors)
145kW of peak power @ 3,800rpm
421Nm peak torque @ 1,800 to 2,500rpm for 6-speed manual
436Nm peak torque @ 1,800 to 2,500rpm for 6-speed automatic
Fuel consumption+ 6.7 litres/100 km (man), 7.5 litres/100 km (auto)
CO2 emissions+176g/km (man), 197g/km (auto)
Towing capacity
Braked – 2,000kg
Unbraked – 750kg

Note: +Australian Design Rules 81/02 static laboratory combined average city and highway cycle test. Fuel consumption will vary depending in a combination of driving habits and the condition of the vehicle.

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