We drive the new Hyundai Santa Fe

At the top of Hyundai’s SUV line-up, the new Santa Fe is bolder, safer and more refined than ever…

The fourth-generation Santa Fe arrived in South Africa towards the end of 2018 to offer its customers more room, a more premium design, added safety and a more refined interior. We’ve just spent a week getting cosy in its cabin and on the road, and here’s what we like about Hyundai’s range-topping SUV…

Its exterior means business

It’s quite masculine looking, but in a good way. The new Hyundai Santa Fe has a look about it that gives the impression of a serious business or executive sort of SUV – especially in its Phantom Black body colour option.

At the front, the Santa Fe adopts the Hyundai’s new SUV family appearance and features an expressive and powerful look. The front introduces the Cascading Grille that is complemented by the Composite Light – a design comprising LED Daytime Running Lights positioned on top of the headlights. The Elite and Executive have full LED headlights, while the Premium derivative is equipped with halogen lights. The Elite’s headlights have dynamic bending into a corner as an added feature.

It is also bigger than its predecessor, with a length of 4 770 mm, a width of 1 890 mm and a longer wheelbase of 2 765 mm that provides more comfort for its passengers.

Business lounge-like interior

Apart from the extra roominess in its cabin, the Santa Fe really feels premium – there were a few times when I almost forgot I was in a Hyundai – but as the automaker continues to revolutionize its SUV range, this will become more familiar. There is luxury and refinement almost everywhere in the new Santa Fe – with plenty of plush surfaces, a sophisticated dashboard that elegantly swoops across the front of the cabin, and those leather seats on the top-specced Elite model are next level fancy (and comfy) – even for rear passengers.

Even though there’s a huge sense of roominess in the cabin, there is also loads of storage compartments, and an increase in luggage capacity by 31 litres to 547 litres behind the second row of seats. This can be extended to 1 625 litres with both the third and second row of seats folded down.

The Elite derivative also boasts a new 7-inch TFT colour display information screen in the centre of the instrument cluster. Apart from speed, revolutions and other information, it shows the chosen drive mode through a blue, green or red colour. The other derivatives have a conventional 3.5-inch mono LCD display cluster.

The Santa Fe Elite derivative is also equipped with a panoramic sunroof; electrically operated rear hatch door (with adjustable height and opening speed); driver and passenger seats with option of heating or ventilation; and paddle shifts on the steering wheel for manual gearshifts.

Increased safety

It’s amazing how reliant you become on things like Blind Spot Detection and other new vehicles safety systems. When they first came out, I found some vehicle’s alerts and detection systems quite annoying and extremely paranoid, until I realised just how you DON’T always see around you on the road. The Santa Fe’s Safety System is impressive and on the Elite derivative, you get an array of these features as standard. These include Blind Spot Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist, and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist that warns the driver and applies the brakes automatically to avoid collisions when vehicles approach from the side or when reversing out of narrow areas with low visibility. The Santa Fe also received a 5-star Euro NCAP Safety rating!

On road luxury

The Hyundai Sante Fe’s Elite derivative comes with four-wheel drive technology, specially designed to enable agile handling and better torque application depending on wheel grip and speed of the vehicle. Hyundai’s traction control system (HTRAC) is great for handling on dirt and gravel roads.

South Africans tend to prefer a sporty, firm ride quality in cars these days and while the Santa Fe offers almost exactly that, it’s not overly firm. Riding over bumps and uneven surfaces is easily tackled in a rather civilized manner when you’re in the new Santa Fe – you don’t get thrown all over the place or bounce on your seat like a Jack in the Box. There is some slight wind and road noise when you’re travelling at high speeds, but that’s to be expected in a vehicle this size.

Power for the new Santa Fe’s drivetrain comes from a 2,2-litre CRDi engine that delivers 142 kW maximum power and 440 Nm maximum torque. Linked to the newly developed 8-speed automatic gearbox, which is engineered with a transversal layout, it delivers enhanced fuel efficiency of 3 to 4%.

Conclusion and pricing

While the previous generation Santa Fe was still a good product, the new model offers impressive enhancements that cater to active families looking for a large and refined SUV with adventurous intentions. It’s bigger, more relaxing to drive and comes loaded with spec and safety features that make the new Santa Fe a worthy contender in the large SUV segment.

The prices of the new Santa Fe range are:

  • Santa Fe R 2.2 Premium automatic – R599 900
  • Santa Fe R 2.2 Executive automatic – R659 900
  • Santa Fe R 2.2 Elite automatic – R749 900.

All prices include Hyundai Automotive SA’s 7-year/200 000 km manufacturer’s warranty (consisting of the standard 5-year/150 000 km warranty plus the additional 2-year/50 000 km drivetrain warranty extension).

An additional part of the package is a 5-year/90 000 km service plan, and roadside assistance for 5 years or 150 000 km.