Hyundai has given the Santa Fe a significant style and features makeover as Michael Moroney found out from his recent test drive, while the overall economy ratings remain unchanged in what is an impressive SUV to drive.
Hyundai’s biggest car on the Irish market is the Santa Fe, which sits on the road as a large seven-seat SUV.
On first impressions, the new 2018 version of the Santa Fe has a more modern front end with a new design grille that’s common to the latest generation of Hyundai cars.
The main changes for the new Santa Fe other than improved styling are better safety features.
Hyundai call it the new Hyundai Smart Sense safety system. This system includes blind-spot collision warning, forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, lane keeping assist, rear occupant alert, safety exit assist and speed limit info function.
The new Santa Fe claims to have increased vehicle body strength by the use of 15% more higher-strength steel. This claims to give the combined benefits a stronger and safer, yet lighter vehicle.
In engine performance terms, there is little changed to the new Santa Fe. The 2.2 litre turbo-diesel engine is retained for good reason, but with little improvements in fuel economy.
The rated fuel economy figure is 17km/litre (6.0l/100km or 47mpg) and that’s difficult to achieve.
I was very impressed by the performance of the smooth 8-speed automatic gearbox that allowed me to cruise on the motorway at 120km/hr with the engine running at just under 2,000rpm.
The economy figures also impact on the CO2 rating, which is relatively high at 157g/km. This pushes the Santa Fe in the high D category with an annual road tax rate of €570.
In economy terms, the new Santa Fe is the least economical among others I’ve compared it with, while it is clearly the most powerful in terms of engine power and torque.
That power benefit brings very comfortable driving; it handles very well across a range of road conditions.
I drove the higher specification HTRAC version which uses four driving modes, Smart, Sport, Comfort or Economy.
These settings adjust the weight of the steering, how the gearbox responds and how the four-wheel drive system adjusts the power flow between the front and rear wheels
The interior of the new Santa Fe has been completely re-designed and it feels a more roomy space. Hyundai have improved the quality feel to the SUV and there are more soft-touch materials throughout.
The entry models come with a 5in infotainment screen, which grows to a larger 8in version as you move up to the higher Premium Plus versions.
The base model has limited features, while moving up the grades gives the benefits of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto by plugging into the Santa Fe’s USB connections, of which there are many.
Some models get wireless mobile phone charging.
There is good seat comfort and adjustment, but there is no height adjustment of the front passenger seat. The seven-seat features have improved with easier folding of the second and third row of seats.
The boot is spacious, but not the largest in the class. There is a space saver spare wheel tucked under the boot on outside.
The new Santa Fe with a single 2.2 litre turbo-diesel engine choice is an impressive seven-seat SUV to drive.
It scores highly in reliability tests in other markets, which is a significant benefit. The entry price for the 4×4 versions start at €38,795, which is competitive over time, relative to the previous model.