2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander: Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 specification or MY20 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander. It’s the top of the range and comes with a great equipment list and is definitely a family friendly vehicle. It’s a three model range, with the Active and Elite being the entry and mid-range options.Under The Bonnet Is: A recently reintroduced 3.5L V6 or 2.2L diesel available across the range. The Highlander tested comes with the grunty 2.2L diesel and 8 speed automatic. It’s an all wheel drive system complete with diff lock for moderate off-roading. Peak power is a decent 147kW, and torque a stump pulling 440Nm. However, it’s a lightswitch delivery for that twist, with it on tap from 1,750rpm through to 2,750rpm. It’s not a progressive delivery from below 1,750 at all, with a press of the pedal getting that familiar pause before launch. It’s that transition from nothing to go that isn’t gentle.

Economy is superb on the highway for such a big machine. Kerb weight is anywhere between 1,870kg to 1,995kg. Our highway figure saw a best of 6.7L/100km, with an overall final consumption of 7.9L/100km. Hyundai quotes 9.9L/100km for the urban, 7.5L/100km for the combined, and 6.6L/100km on the highway from the 71 litre tank. Towing is rated as 2,000kg and the engine is EURO5 compliant.

How Much Does It Cost?: Hyundai’s website, at the time of writing, indicates a starting price of $62,425 driveaway for the Highlander petrol, $65,575 for the diesel. The test car was clad in an unusual hue named Earthly Bronze and takes the price to a $66,600 region. The range itself starts from around $47,200. That includes a seven year warranty until December 31, 2019 for vehicles delivered before that date. There are option packs available such as the Trek and Tow pack (two different versions) that offer heavy duty spring kits, electronic brake controller, and body additions. There is a price of over $2K for these. The Metro pack is floor mats, a fabric material rear bumper protector and a dashmat. That tickles the wallet at just $286.On The Outside It’s: Undergone a notable change at both ends. Hyundai has gone for a similar look across its SUV range with “eyebrow” LED driving lights sitting above lower set headlights. The Highlander’s are LED powered as well. A pair of halogen globes sit at each corner. The rear lights have been trimmed and look much more streamlined than the previous model. The profile is stylish, and moves away from a blocky, squarish, three box design. Wheels were 19 inches and of a 5×2 spiral design. Rubber is 235/55ContiSport Contact. There is chrome garnish around the windows and along the lower doors and rear bumper. The rear also has the indicator clusters set separately to the tail lights, and they’re low down in the corners. This is a design issue AWT doesn’t subscribe to as they’re not in the driver’s eyeline.

On The Inside It’s: A dark beige colour (almost a light cocoa brown actually) for the seats and a speckled grey above. The fronts eats are both heated and vented (phew), and the steering wheel is also heated. Only the driver’s window is one touch up/down, oddly. The touchscreen is standard Hyundai and has DAB/Bluetooth/apps for connectivity. The sound is slightly off in that the voice stage comes across as centred behind the driver. And that’s with the settings having the stage centred for between the front seats.In the centre console are the switches for the 360 degree camera, diff lock, parking assistance and sensors. Ahead of that is the gear selector with Sports shift and a nook for the wireless charging and connectivity via USB and Aux plus a pair of 12V sockets. These sit at the base of a very stylish looking dash console and a cool looking arch design for the uppermost section that also houses a HUD. The driver’s display changes colour depending on which of the five drive modes, such as Eco or Sport, are selected.There are switches high up on the shoulder of the front seat to allow fore and aft movement of the seats, the middle row is 60/40 tilt and fold, and in the review car, there was the cargo cover over the folded down third row. cargo itself is good, ranging from 547L to 1,625L. Rear seats have their own aircon control too. Handy given the full glass roof. There is plenty of vision thanks to a good sized glasshouse.On The Road It’s: A mix of confidence inspiring and could have been better. The ride on and off-road is superb, with beautifully balanced damping at both ends, precise steering, easily controllable handling, and a let down in the torque delivery and braking.

Taken onto some mixed grade gravel roads, the all wheel drive Santa Fe Highlander displays adequate manners up to a point. It’s definitely able to hand a good mix of gravel and clay style roads, and with some mild rocky surfaces thrown in for good measure. The centre diff lock is for those that may like a bit of softer surface running such as beach sand or a few inches worth of dragging mud.

The steering across the board is weighted just right, but it’s the light switch bang kapow wham of torque delivery from a standstill that really became irksome. Hit the Start/Stop button, fire up, head to a stop sign. Push the go pedal and there’s the diesel intake and…BAM, the engine is a free-spinner but god almighty the instant delivery of all 440 torques is just so overdone. There is nothing wrong with a flat torque curve, as it is between 1,750 and 2,750 here, however throwing the full bag in straight away is too much.

Highway cruising has the engine ticking over at just under 1,700rpm which means when acceleration is required, the torque coming in isn’t so violent as it does its thing. Because the engine is a free spirit it spins around easily and makes moving the two tonne plus machine down the freeway a smooth and painfree event.

The brakes are at the other end. Pedal travel is soft, spongy, and lacking in real stopping force. It feels even at what would normally be a real sense of the stoppers stopping that more pressure is needed to get bite on the 320mm and 309mm discs. Coming up to traffic lights and stop signs just doesn’t have the Highlander’s brakes feeling as if the required pressure is working.What About Safety?: Hyundai‘s loaded the Highlander with as much as a car can handle. Advanced Smart Parking Assist System (ASPAS) Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist – Rear (BCA-R) Driver Attention Warning (DAW) Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) – City/Urban/Interurban/Pedestrian/Cyclist (camera & radar) High Beam Assist (HBA) Lane Keeping Assist – Line/Road-Edge (LKA-L/R) Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA) Rear Occupant Alert (ROA) Rear Occupant Alert (ROA) – Advanced Safe Exit Assist (SEA) Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop & Go Surround View Monitor (SVM) . Phew.

What About Warranty And Servicing?: There is a seven year warranty available for vehicles delivered before December 31, 2019. Servicing details can be checked for your car via Hyundai’s website.

At The End Of Drive. Hyundai’s Santa Fe is of the brand’s longer running nameplates. Its grown in size from a mid-sizer to a full sized family SUV. In Highlander spec it wants for nothing in trim and equipment levels, although the look inside is now fading in comparison to the Euro cars of a similar spec. It’s in the driving that the Santa Fe’s issues are exposed, with that wham bam torque delivery from a standing start and the “need more” from the brakes.

Sort those and the Santa Fe easily becomes an absolute standout in its class.

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