Mid sized SUV’s have corralled the Aussie car market of recent years and well in the mix are the two Korean brands, Kia and Hyundai. Hyundai’s Santa Fe started as a small mid sizer and now fits comfortably into the bigger mid sized bracket. A Wheel Thing checks out the mid range entrant, the Elite.
It’s a huffy and hairy chested 2.2L diesel four cylinder, with a mountainous torque figure of 436 Nm (auto, manual has 421) with a plateau like delivery between 1800 to 2500 revs.It’s a six speed auto with a torque split diff, lockable into full time four wheel drive.
Fuel consumption is quoted by Hyundai as being 7.3L per 100 kilometres on a combined cycle from the 64 litre tank, with urban and highway being 9.6L and 5.9L per 100L respectively. It’s enough for the auto to be able to tow 2000 kilograms.
It’s a solidly engineered look, with an upright nose housing the Hyundai corporate grille, sitting comfortably between the eagle eye headlights and LED rimmed driving lights. Crease lines down the side soften a somewhat heavy profile before finishing in a pair of protrusions at the rear. The black urethane plastic now commonly found on most SUVs, is used to frame the front and rear and joining them along the bottom of the doors.
The grille, on the Elite, is Hyundai’s corporate three bar look, chrome coated whilst the door wing mirrors house puddle lamps, which shine downwards brightly.
A power tailgate can be found at the rear and the roof is full glass plus sunroof. The Elite has 18 inch alloys, in a petal design, wrapped in grippy 235/55 Hankooks.
The overall impression is one of capability and toughness with the styling definitely setting it apart from its competition. With dimensions of 4690 x 1880 x 1690 mm it looks bigger than it is.
On The Inside.
It’s typical Hyundai; it’s ergonomically smart, good looking and practical. It’s a mix of textures on the plastics, with a crosshatch design on the dash and the common crocodile look for the rest. There’s not a lot of give in the material though, odd for a luxury oriented vehicle.
The look of the dash, from the driver and passenger seat, is somewhat busy, with lines and angles bordering contrasting shades of black and grey trim; although buttons are logically laid out and clearly legible, it’s visually overdone and a touch fatiguing.
There’s repetition in the design, with a V-shaped spoke for the steering wheel reflected in the centre dash look, starting with the LCD touch screen as a base for an inverted pyramid with the aircon fan speed dial in the apex.
It’s a seven seater, with tilt-a-fold middle row seats and simply operated folding seats in the rear, with separate aircon controls plus the system operates independently of the main aircon.
It’s a full glass roof with a curtain that rolls back at the touch of a button, plus sunroof which was great in letting out hot air from the warmer days as are the vents for heating and cooling the front seats.
There’s 4 channel ABS, with Electronic Brake Distribution, Stability Control, Traction Control, Hill Start Assist and Downward Brake Assist. High visibility LED driving lights, rear parking camera, parking sensors for Front and Rear Park Assist, Smart Parking Assist in the top of the Range Highlander, curtain airbags, a driver’s knee airbag, thorax and pelvis ‘bags plus pretensioning seatbelts provide almost everything a driver may need.
On The Drive.
The engine is a (torque drive) powerhouse; in normal drive mode there’s a hint of lag before the turbo reaches the right revs, with a lightswitch on moment as the front hooks up and launches the 2000 kilo plus Elite. Overtaking is a doddle, especially on the freeway as the gearing has the engine ticking over just below the max torque delivery starting point.
Handling is clean, predictable and with that mountain of torque, the nose will tuck in nicely when the right pedal is applied coming into a turn and sweeping corner. Ride quality (and noise quality, for that matter) is superb, with the Elite firm and flat on most surfaces, isolating noise nicely and the tyres absorbing enough of any initial jolt before the suspension takes over and disappears the rest.
Even the big speedhumps were relegated to a momentary annoyance, at any speed, whilst the dips and undulations found on the freeway barely unsettled the Elite whilst barking was superb, with just the right amount of pressure, from a light touch to a full on emergency heavy foot, having the Elite slowing or stopping in the right distances from the pressure.
Steering is mostly precise, with Hyundai’s three mode steering assist system still remaining questionable as to its worthiness and validity.
It’s (the Elite) is priced at $48490 plus options like metallic paint at $595 and on roads. It competes with it’s sister company’s offering, the Sorento and matches nicely against vehicles such as the Outlander and Cherokee Trailhawk, although the latter is a dedicated off roader.
Fit and finish are of Hyundai’s typical high quality but the cushioning of the plastics needs work; it’s a comfortable ride, inside and on road, it’s quiet with the diesel chatter hardly noticeable under load. Economy settled somewhere around 8.0L per 100, reasonable given the bulk and driving the Elite covered.
Backed by Hyundai’s five year and unlimited kilometre warranty and ten years worth of roadside assist, it’s a car for the family with piece of mind built in.
Head here: http://www.hyundai.com.au/vehicles/santa-fe/specification-range for info.
Go here for A Wheel Thing TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1UW4YcJWUM&feature=em-upload_owner