Practicality and purpose

by Andy Bryenton

Since the turn of the millennium, Hyundai have been scoring accolades and awards for their big seven-seat family adventure wagon, the Santa Fe SUV.

Offering the same go-anywhere abilities and practical roominess of machines far beyond its very reasonable price bracket, its most recent generation is the very definition of a hard act to follow. So how did the new Santa Fe build on the success of its predecessor? 

With smart use of space, and a factor not found in many large seven seaters — that’s how.

When it comes to the interior of a machine made to pack in the whole family, the devil is in the details. Or rather in this case, a host of little blessings.

From the ‘floating’ centre console which allows the front passenger to plug into the stereo and charger without getting in the driver’s way, through to a plethora of handy cubbies and cup holders — primed for today’s skinny energy drink cans as well as American-sized drivethru ‘tubs’ — there’s clearly been plenty of input into the Santa Fe’s interior from someone who has a rowdy bunch of kids. This is also clear when you take a look at the seating and storage arrangements in back. Doctor Who’s TARDIS may look far bigger on the inside than on the outside, but the Santa Fe is catching up.

The tailgate (which can be closed with a button, and stops closing should there be something in the way) opens to reveal enough space to stow a small castle siege’s worth of supplies. The easiest fold-flat seating system we have ever seen drops the back row for even more space — literally whitewaretransporting volumes of it. And with a couple of latches pulled, back pops a third row that feels as comfy as the first two, with its own dedicated air-con vents and a 12 volt charger for the ubiquitous tablet or phone.

So far, so good — but what’s the extra special feature which turns another successfully practical Santa Fe into something more? Well, it’s the fact that this all new, sharper looking model has been made lighter and given a velocitous punch, with a choice of a 2.4 petrol, a 3 litre V6, and a torquey 2.2 litre diesel.

That means that the Santa Fe doesn’t just deliver the whole clan to school, work, holidays and sports events. It also delivers smiles for the driver as well — and that’s well worth a look.

The addition of a little spice into the SUV mix, with crisp handling to match a suite of practical details, is enough to make this seven-seater stand out from the crowd.