No hard trails with the Santa Fe.

Hyundai continues its range revamp with the new Santa Fe. Released to the Australian market around the end of the third quarter, the external sheetmetal has been given a thorough overhaul whilst the interior has also been given a tickle up. There’s been a few quiet technological additions also, such as hidden LEDs in the wing mirrors that activate when the driver gets close carrying the key fob, plus the mirrors can be set to fold out and in before unlocking and locking. Rear park assist and a rear camera are standard across the three model range (Active, Elite and Highlander), as is traction control. Rain sensing wipers and auto headlights add to the already high specced package. The steering ratio can be adjusted for a different feel across four specs such as Sport and Comfort whilst the Elite and Highlander also get an electrochromatic rear vision mirror with a compass display whilst the top of the range Highlander cops a full length panoramic glass sunroof. Being a seven seater, there’s front, rear and mid mounted aircon vents.

The exterior has been given what Hyundai term its “Fluidic Sculpture” design language and for the Santa Fe, it’s called “Storm Edge”, intended to evoke the images we see during a storm’s formation. Whatever the semantics behind it, the design is certainly strong, bold, with a lantern jawed front end, featuring a strong grille design and tapering off to a svelte rear. The window line has a trapezoidal look adding to the clean lines of the profile. The headlight cluster has a swoopy, almost avian look, with LED lighting in the cluster’s “eyebrow” adding a subtle ambience. The overall look is by no measures unattractive but may be a touch too masculine for some compared to the more rounded model it replaces.

A Wheel Thing spent a very comfortable week with the Elite, powered by the 2.2L diesel available across the range. An AWD system falls into line behind both the diesel and the 2.4L petrol available in the Active with manual and auto six speeds available. The diesel is a torquey unit, to say the least, with a more than generous 436 Nm available from 1800rpm to 2500rpm whilst the pull continues with 145kW @ 3800rpm. With the slick shifting auto well matched to the engine, acceleration is quick whilst allowing rapid overtaking on the freeway when required. Gearing is spot on with less than 2000rpm at 110kmh, allowing a mere dab of the pedal to utilise the mountainous torque. The ride quality has been tuned to Australian conditions but perhaps a little too much so. Although fluid and comfortable around town, it’s not always surefooted, with some skipping sideways across certain road sections, testing the MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension. There’s an active cornering system, called Advanced Traction Cornering Control, adjusting torque front to rear and braking individual corners as required. each model also has a wheel/tyre combo specific to the model. Naturally there’s a lockable four wheel drive system, with the previous model Santa Fe a competent off roader. Fuel economy was pretty good, sitting at around 7.5L per 100 km with predominantly city driving.

The driver’s part of interior has received a freshen up, with a seven inch TFT entertainment/multimedia/navigation screen taking pride of place in the revamped centre dash. It’s a touchscreen unit, easy to use but didn’t seem to offer RDS (Radio Data Service) allowing information embedded in the carrier wave, showing song title and artist. The Elite is given the superb premium sound system, featuring ten speakers including an 8 inch subwoofer. There’s plenty of punch, depth and clarity to the sound and the system is USBĀ  & iPod compatible plus offers Bluetooth streaming. A DVD system is available for the Highlander. A keyless start/stop button is standard with the button placed to the right upper side of the dash between centre and the dash. Leather seating, comfortable without being excessively supportive, is standard in the Elite and Highlander, with colour choices being available to match exterior trim. A minor quibble is the main aircon button being on the left side of the centre console stack, rather than being on the driver’s side. The driver’s display also feature a highly detailed LCD screen, with Hyundai moving a small image of the vehicle there and providing a multifaceted information base. At the rear, the third row of seats are activated by simply pulling a lever recessed into the seat’s back, allowing a simple raising and lowering.

With an industry leading five year unlimited kilometre warranty, capped price servicing for three years plus complimentary road side assist, Hyundai is looking to increase the already substantial inroads into the Australian market. Starting at $36990 plus on roads for the Active 2.4L with manual, with the Elite pricing out at around $50K, the 2013 Santa Fe is again well deserving of a place in the driveway.

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