santa fe
santa fe

Hyundai Santa Fe: All the moves

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What is it?

Hyundai periodically aligns its large Santa Fe with the mid-size Tucson, by adding a special edition Active X. 

It slots between the entry Active and mid-range Elite, with Highlander sitting at the top of the range.

The current style is just on two years old, with eyebrow style LEDs that many mistake for headlights at night — but they sit lower down in the front end.

Active X features exterior and interior changes and extra features for a small rise in cost, with a petrol or diesel engine — in V6 or straight four (2020 also celebrates 20 years of Santa Fe).

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What’s it cost?

It’s a bit more than expected, at $47,020 plus on-road costs for the V6, and $50,050 plus on-road costs for the diesel. That’s a rise of $3030 compared to the Active but $5050 cheaper than the mid-range Elite.

The added equipment over the Active is reasonable. The Active X rolls on 10 spoke, propeller style, 18-inch alloy wheels with directional tread, Hankook 235/60 Ventus Prime rubber.

The door handles have a  satin chrome finish, and courtesy lights are fitted. The mirrors power fold and hide puddle lamps. The rear windows are tinted for privacy.  

It’s a seven-seater too, with the third row folding flat and providing more than ample cargo space.

Interior trim is a choice of black or dark beige leather, with passengers getting dual zone air conditioning (including roof vents), as well as glovebox cooling, fabric roof lining, and windscreen-pillar covers.

There is a textured, grey-hued plastic trim piece that runs from side to side, mirroring and complementing the sculpted arch that runs along the top of the dash itself.

Room is a word easily associated with the interior, with 995mm of head room for the centre folding row and 917mm for the third row.

Leg room is 1048mm to 1120mm up front, and a whopping 1001mm for the centre. The rear has 741mm.

These figures come courtesy of a wheelbase that is 2765mm.

There’s 547 to 1625 litres of cargo space available and, thankfully, Hyundai fits a full sized spare wheel.

Audio is of a good quality considering the tuner is AM/FM. So Android Auto and Apple CarPlay step up to provide digital audio and also navigation — as neither are fitted.

It has push-button start though, with rain sensing wipers and auto headlights.

Safety is typical Hyundai, meaning there is virtually nothing missing. Under their SmartSense banner, 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 still manage to crash, you’ve stamped yourself as special — and not in a good way.

Warranty is standard at five years with unlimited kilometres.

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What’s it go like?

Our review vehicle is the diesel, and it’s a potent package.

With a 2.2-litre capacity, it drives the front and rear wheels via a mostly on-song 8-speed auto.

Peak power is 147kW, but the more important bit is the 440Nm of torque from that comparatively small engine.

Compare that to the 336Nm that the 3.5-litre petrol V6 generates at higher revs 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 2000kg yet returned 8.6L/100km on our 70/30 urban/highway test route.

Hyundai quote 9.9L/100km for the urban cycle and 7.5L/100km for the combined from the 71-litre tank.

Towing is rated at 2000kg braked.

It’s a quiet chatterer, and an easy one to live with in day-to-day driving.

The mostly on-song auto has a tendency to “flare” in the lower ratios, especially when accelerating out of a small but sharp corner after slowing.

It’s almost as if the software feels ratio two or three is a better choice instead of three or four that is required.

Once those cogs are dispatched, the rest fall into line rapidly and without fuss. It’s a transmission that is as smooth and silky as could be asked for otherwise.

It readily and again without fuss drops down as required and slurs with a barely perceptible change on the upwards journey.

Rolling acceleration showcases the torque from this willing engine, and highlights how good the 8-speed auto can be. It’s stupendous and sees the Santa Fe Active-X simply launch, moving rapidly and unceasingly forward. The auto blurs the changes so they’re more a sense, rather than a feeling, of change.

Steering is heavier than expected to start. Then the driving modes, such as Smart and Sport, are explored. These change the sense of weight and it’s down to a matter of personal choice as to which feels better.

But there’s no arguing with the response, considering it’s rapid at just 2.53 turns lock to lock.

Grip levels are high but the rear feels like it kicks up occasionally in some corners.

Ride is tuned to be more on the sporting side also, with initial and gentle compliance before moving into a tauter setup.

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What we like?

  • It’s an easy to drive machine considering the mass
  • No shortage of room unless cramming in the Harlem Globetrotters
  • Good economy for a weighty machine

What we don’t like?

  • Low speed transmission flare in lower gears
  • No DAB or satnav  meaning a smartphone is a must — not an option

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The bottom line?

The family SUV is now, alongside the 4×4 ute, the cars people are buying.

In the case of Hyundai (and sister company, Kia), their big machines deliver on cost, features, comfort, and safety.

The Active-X  appears to be targeted at those that need/desire a seven-seater at a reasonable ask. It’s not excessively overdone in trim or features, except perhaps safety).

But it also caters to those that like the convenience of plugging in a smartphone for added flexibility.

Given that Hyundai has the smaller Tucson, with Active-X a permanent part of that family, adding Active-X to the Santa Fe is a good move for those needing a bigger machine.

Factor in a superb 2.2-litre diesel and Santa Fe mounts a strong case.

2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Active X CRDi

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Hyundai Santa Fe Active X CRDi, priced from $50,050
  • Looks - 7.5/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
  • Safety - 9/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Tech - 7.5/10
  • Value - 8/10