There are more changes under the skin than you might realise with Hyundai’s original seven-seat SUV. And it’s a family option that still hits the spot in many respects.
- Interior is ageing gracefully
- Torquey and efficient diesel powertrain
- Highlander spec doesn’t miss a trick
- Infotainment system not as big as the Palisade
- Third row misses out on safety equipment
- Third row is too tight for regular usage
How much does the Hyundai Santa Fe cost in Australia?
Do you really need a seven-seat SUV? It’s a tough one to answer. Nobody has a crystal ball for the future, and we can only predict (sometimes with wild inaccuracy) what the future has in store for us.
It makes sense, then, that some of us think ‘why not?’ when it comes to a seven-seat SUV. Extra space in a family car is never a bad thing, and that third row of seats might come in handy after all.
This, I think, is the sweet spot of the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe. You might not need that third row of seats, which are liable to sit idle for months on end. But gee whiz, they are nice to have up your sleeve.
And let’s face it: if you properly need to haul around seven (or eight) humans with a modicum of comfort, then you should face reality and buy a people mover. They’re actually really good and what they are designed for.
In the face of new competition and refreshed old foes, the Hyundai Santa Fe – a stalwart of this segment for over 20 years – is at risk of being forgotten or glossed over by the Australian car-buying public, who we all know love new stuff. But they shouldn’t be so fast to dismiss this evergreen option.
Because despite looking quite similar to the fourth-generation model that first lobbed in 2018, this 2022 model has undergone some significant changes under the skin. Since 2020, the Santa Fe adopted Hyundai’s newer ‘N’ platform, instead of continuing on with the older Y platform that pre-facelift cars used at launch.
Overall dimensions don’t change, but this platform swap saw the Santa Fe pick up a more efficient powertrain (with a dual-clutch automatic transmission), new safety and convenience technology, and a slightly different overall demeanour.
Prices have shifted around slightly over the years, and we’ve got the most expensive variant of the Santa Fe on test. This 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander diesel is priced from $66,550 before on-road costs (up slightly over our last road test), and has the sole two options of exterior and interior colours picked.
How much space does the Hyundai Santa Fe have inside?
As luck would have it, I stepped away from a larger and slightly more expensive Hyundai Palisade Elite into this Santa Fe, and still have recent experiences of other popular large SUVs in the segment. So, I came into this review with some good benchmarks in my brain to reference.
Sitting in the driver’s seat of this Santa Fe, there is a sense of feeling more cloistered and low-slung, which is a different experience to the Palisade. It’s got a premium sedan-like sense about its interior layout and driving position, with a low-slung seat and relatively high-set centre console. It’s quite comfortable, and the Highlander certainly isn’t left wanting in terms of kit.
There’s plenty of gear, like nappa leather-appointed seating, and a perforated leather steering wheel, which is only employed in this top Highlander specification. There’s a handful of other Highlander-only details, like alloy finishes around the centre console and switchgear, suede on the headlining and pillar covers, ventilated (and heated) front seats, and heated rear outboard seats.
There are also LED interior lights and a panoramic glass sunroof, which help justify the additional asking price for this top-spec model.
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In terms of outright space, the Santa Fe isn’t a leader in this regard. It’s certainly larger than your average mid-sized SUV these days, but cannot match something like a Sorento or Kluger. It’s a little more low-slung but still offers good space and comfort across the first two rows.
It’s perhaps better to look at the Santa Fe as a very competent five-seater, which can dabble in the land of seven seats occasionally without being too challenged. The second row gets air vents and climate controls, power outlets and good levels of space and comfort. The pull-up sun blinds are always a nice touch, and there are some nice materials and details to stew over.
However, using it as a full-time three-row family car presents problems. Firstly, the amounts of headroom and legroom are more suited to kids rather than adults. Secondly, visibility (especially for kids) is low. And thirdly, the back seats miss out on curtain airbags.
|2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander 2.2D|
|Boot volume||130L to third row
571L to second row
782L to first row
Does the Hyundai Santa Fe have Apple CarPlay?
The infotainment system has grown since the Santa Fe first arrived in 2018, which is utterly important for a modern vehicle. It’s not as big a screen as you get in a Palisade, but the 10.25-inch system in this Santa Fe is perfectly fine and fit for purpose. And don’t forget, this system is bigger than what you would find in a top-spec Toyota Kluger and Mazda CX-9.
This system carries the important elements of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, digital radio and native navigation. The touchscreen is well supplemented by that big slab of buttons on the slanted central stack, some of which deal directly with the infotainment system. Volume dials are always good to have, and the two customisable buttons are a nice touch as well.
Hyundai’s ‘Sounds of Nature’, which uses preset ambient noise recordings like a crackling fireplace or falling rain, is a feature I can live without personally. The ability to patch into the sound system – to speak with omnipresent authority to those in the back – is a handy bit of fun.
The wireless phone charger is a smart touch, which I can’t recall seeing in another car. It’s a vertical-style unit that you slip the phone into, and stops it from sliding around somewhere as it (slowly) tops up your battery.
Is the Hyundai Santa Fe a safe car?
The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe carries a five-star ANCAP score from 2018, when the fourth-generation model first lobbed into showrooms. Numbers are quite solid, with a 94 per cent score for adult occupants and a lower 86 per cent score for child occupants.
Whether the Santa Fe would score five stars today is a tricky one to answer, because there is so much that goes into a score in 2022. It must be said, the front centre airbag is a good recent addition to this family SUV.
However, the lack of safety equipment for those in the third row limits its usage as a proper three-row SUV for regular use. More so, it’s an occasional seven-seater with the convenient practicality of being able to fit two extra passengers on board when you need to, and preferably for a short trip only. That is, unless you really don’t like them.
Other good stuff on the safety front includes: autonomous emergency braking with intersection, pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot collision avoidance, blind-spot monitor (with view monitor), rear cross-traffic alert, low-speed reverse autonomous braking (for Highlander spec only), safe exit assist, tyre pressure monitoring, lane-keep assistance and lane-follow assistance.
How much does the Hyundai Santa Fe cost to maintain?
Servicing the diesel-powered Hyundai Santa Fe comes in at either $1377 over three years or $2295 over five years, both of which average out at a reasonable $459 per year. This is using the pre-paid servicing package that Hyundai offers, which can be rolled into the initial purchase (or financing) of the vehicle, or purchased up to the time of the first service.
Servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000km, and Hyundai’s warranty is a relatively standard five years and unlimited kilometres of coverage.
A comprehensive insurance quote for the Hyundai Santa Fe came in at $1379.28. This is based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.
|At a glance||2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander 2.2D|
|Warranty||Five years, unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$1377 (3 years)
$2295 (5 years)
Is the Hyundai Santa Fe fuel-efficient?
Fuel economy in this Santa Fe is good, and has been improved through the implementation of an updated power plant and dual-clutch automatic transmission. Whereas the old torque-converter set-up would use a claimed 7.6 litres per 100km, a 2018 Santa Fe diesel would inevitably use a bit more.
As chance would have it, our real-world figure matched the old claim: 7.6L/100km, which included a fair bit of highway driving. This number fares reasonably against Hyundai’s claim of 6.6L/100km.
|Fuel Useage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||6.6L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||7.6L/100km|
|Fuel tank size||65L|
What is the Hyundai Santa Fe like to drive?
The 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine, with an accessible punch of torque available around that 2000rpm mark, feels more than competent for driving around town, through traffic and on highways. It’s reasonably quiet as well – for a four-cylinder diesel engine. There are some noises and vibrations, sure, but on the whole it’s not too bad.
Highlander is the only Santa Fe grade to pick up acoustic-laminated glass and windscreen, which would certainly help keep things civilised.
And while many Australian buyers are going agog for hybrid and electrified powertrains, the humble old diesel power plant still works well in this application. It feels responsive and torquey for town driving, low-revving on the highway, and with good efficiency.
The other option you have is a 3.5-litre petrol V6, which is only available as a front-wheel-drive vehicle. While offering more power and performance, the larger petrol engine is going to also use more fuel, especially around town.
The dual-clutch transmission – controlled by some shiny buttons on the dashboard – works well as a simple and relatively intuitive companion to the diesel engine.
If you spend enough time driving different cars, you’ll notice the different operating behaviour of the transmission as the clutch packs engage and disengage. It does an impressive job of mimicking a point-and-shoot torque converter gearbox, however, with little of those typical faults that can make this kind of gearbox hard to live with.
In particular, low-speed performance in situations like parking manoeuvres and reversing is easy to manage.
The relatively small dimensions of the Santa Fe – both in physical size and driving feel – make it easy to punt around town. In some sense, it feels more like a big medium-sized SUV (if that makes sense) rather than being outright large. Perhaps part of this is the seating position and good visibility, but also somewhat slim proportions.
The ride quality of the Santa Fe suits the brief quite nicely. It’s not attempting to be some kind of faux sports car with a firm hold and sharp responses, but instead handles the patchwork quilt of urban roads, joins and imperfections nicely. There is a nice balance there, without feeling too soft or bouncy, but also keeping the body movements reined in when needed.
That comfort and ease of use are important parts of making this Santa Fe gel on the whole. It might not be the newest kid on the block any more, but it still hits the spot adeptly as a family hauler.
|Key details||2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander 2.2D|
|Engine||2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel|
|Power||148kW @ 3800rpm|
|Torque||440Nm @ 1750–2750rpm|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||76kW/t|
|Spare wheel||Full-size underslung|
|Tow rating||2500kg braked
Should I buy a Hyundai Santa Fe?
There’s no shortage of excellent choices in the large SUV world. And as good and well executed as this Santa Fe might be, we cannot easily discount options like the Kia Sorento and Toyota Kluger.
However, the Hyundai Santa Fe shouldn’t be forgotten in the wake of fresher faces in the segment. Safety and technology – two hugely important criteria for this car – have been given a kick, and the recently tweaked platform and powertrain have also paid dividends.
For those who want a true seven-seater, you’ll find the third row of this Santa Fe a little underdone. But for others who want something a little bigger than a mid-sized SUV without going full-on Canyonero, then this Santa Fe could be a sweet spot in itself.