This Car Review Is About: The newly added, to the Santa Fe range, Active-X trim level. It brings the Santa Fe into line with its smaller sibling, Tucson. There’s one transmission, two engines, and four trim levels now, being Active, Active-X, Elite, and Highlander.
How Much Does It Cost?: It’s a bit more than expected, at $47,020 plus on-road costs for the petrol fed 3.5L V6, and $50,050 plus on-road costs for the 2.2L diesel. That’s a increase of $3,030 compared to the Active but $5,050 cheaper than the mid-range Elite.
Under The Bonnet Is: Hyundai’s familiar 2.2L oiler, driving the front and rear wheels via a mostly on-song eight speed auto. 147kW is the peak power, however the numbers to look at are 440Nm from that comparatively small engine. Compare that to the 336Nm at higher revs inside the 3.5L petrol V6 and immediately there’s a sense of why the diesel is, on paper, a better choice.The diesel has a starting weight of close to 2,000 kilos yet returns an economy figure of 8.6L/100km on our 70/30 urban to highway test. Hyundai quote 9.9L/100km for the urban cycle and 7.5L/100km on the combined from the 71.0L tank. Towing is rated at 2,000 kilos braked.
On The Inside It’s: A seven seater with the delightfully easy pull-strap system for the third row. The driver’s seat is manual lever arch in movement, not powered. For the Active-X, the extra trim means leather bolstering for the seats with black or dark beige being available. There is privacy glass at the rear. Being a Santa Fe, interior room is no issue. There is 995mm of head room for the centre folding row and 917mm for the third row. Leg room is 1,048mm to 1,120mm up front, and a whopping 1,001mm for the centre. The rear has 741mm. These are courtesy of the wheelbase of 2,765mm. 547L to 1,625L is the cargo space available. Thankfully, Hyundai fit a full sized spare wheel too.There is no DAB nor satnav natively, relying on smartphone connectivity to provide those. However a nice touch is the vented glove-box, rain sensing wipers, push button start, and auto headlights. The dash itself is a pair of deep scallops with a switchable binnacle design for right and land hand drive markets and this sits above a dark grey, diamond shape embossed, strip that runs from either side. There’s soft touch material for the rook lining and pillars. the front seats have seat pockets for the centre row passengers, who also gain a pair of charging sockets and airvents, including a roof mounted outlet.On The Outside It’s: Got a satin chrome finish to the door handles, courtesy light at night, and 10 spoke, dual blade, turbine style wheels of 18 inches in diameter. Hankook supplies the rubber at 235/60 from their Ventus range. Folding mirrors hide puddle lamps as well. The exterior is now around two years old, with the eyebrow LED driving lights that many people believe are headlights and use them that way at night. The actual headlights have been dropped further down to bracket the Hyundai grille in their own recessed section. A strong feature line joins the upper edge of the driving lights with the tail lights. Indicators here are down in the lower bumper rather than at a safer, eye-height level inside the tail lights.What About Safety?: It is typical Hyundai, meaning there is virtually nothing missing. Under their SmartSense banner, the Santa Fe Active-X has forward collision avoidance and autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot assist, driver attention warning, high beam assist, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, rear occupant alert, and adaptive cruise control with stop-go. So if you manage to crash this you’ve stamped yourself as special, and not in a good sense. There is also a rear view camera with guidelines on the screen, tyre pressuring monitoring (across the range) and six airbags.What About Warranty And Servicing?: Warranty is standard at five years and unlimited kilometres. Servicing is variable and comes under a couple of options.
On The Road It’s: Mostly benign and easy to drive. The torque of the 2.2L is light-switch variable from a standing start, and requires both a gentle foot and an understanding of how some engines go from mild to wild. That peak torque is available between 1,750 to 2,750 rpm and it comes into play very quickly. What this means is a gentle squeeze of the go-pedal is required, otherwise it’s the more typical, and still annoying, deep breath then kapow as the torque suddenly arrives, rather than a more linear delivery. That’s the bad news.
Otherwise it’s as easy to drive as can be imagined. The eight speed auto surges, or “flares” in conjunction with the engine revs initially but is otherwise fluid, smooth, quick to react. the engine is a free-revver, allowing for bare flexing of the right ankle to see overtaking done easily, or simply waft along in relative quiet. Rolling acceleration is pin your ears back quick too, with the eight speed auto silently responding to the demand and dropping down through the cogs easily before climbing back up with the same sense of quiet.
Steering can feel heavy, which is strange given it’s quick in having just 2.5 turns from lock to lock. Heavy, though, only at very low speeds; get the Santa fe Active-X up and running and it lightens up slightly, with still a sense of weight in the effort.
Naturally there are drive modes and we drove ours mostly in Smart, the learning mode that adapts the transmission and engine package to suit the driving style. Otherwise there are also Sport, Comfort, Eco, which are preprogrammed and can be very handy depending on the intended drive route. The suspension itself seems more attuned to Sport with the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear feeling quite taut. It easily absorbs the smaller yumps and bumps before tightening up, decreasing rebound and floatiness.The brakes bite well however the vented front discs are just 320mm. This brings in that fine line of measuring the speed against the rate of slowing, as more than once the brain said the effort was spot on yet the gap to the vehicle in front was closing quicker than expected.
At The End Of the Drive. The Active-X is that ideal gap-filler and also adds extra appeal to the Santa Fe. The spec level seems to fit the younger family that are tech-savvy by using teh smartphone compatibility for audio and navigation, but not necessarily chasing some of the upper luxury features. By having the seven seats, with the completely flat folding third row, it provides them that flexibility for the family as well.