Road test 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander diesel -

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» Home » Articles » New Car Reviews » Add - New Car Reviews » Hyundai Santa Fe 2010 Road Test

Hyundai Santa Fe 2010 Road Test

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01/02/2010, 19:08   By MURRAY HUBBARD  

2010 Hyundai Santa Fe on road

A wise man once said it's the small things in life that trip you up. The example he gave was someone running through the bush. They're more likely fall over a small branch than run headlong into a tree. It's the attention to small, practical detail that makes the 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe an impressive family machine. They have got almost all the small details sussed and in addition have the big ones covered too: like the new R Series 2.2 litre turbo-diesel and six speed auto transmission, plus handling and suspension.

2010 Hyundai Santa Fe rear view


Our road test car was the top-of-line seven-seat Santa Fe Highlander. This all wheel drive SUV is but a small part of the whole phenomena of 4WD lookalikes designed to have some off-road ability while having car-like manners. To my mind they have replaced the station wagons of old. So to pigeon hole them they are by and large used as family wagons.

reversing camera view 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander


It didn't take long to spot the first change from most other cars. Highlander is fitted with a reversing camera and instead of showing the rear view on a dash-mounted screen, the view is shown in the internal rear view mirror a place all drivers are accustomed to looking at regularly when reversing. Now, that is clever and practical. These cameras by the way do not replace all the usual checks you make when reversing, but to our mind it's in a better place than the bulk of other vehicles. Just a small change, but one for the better.

rear door handle 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe


Moving to the back of the vehicle there's this bloody great big handle to open the rear door. Doesn't do a lot for the aesthetics of the Santa Fe, but compared to the vast number of other vehicles when the handle is hidden under the overhang above the number plate, this is pure heaven. How many women have broken finger nails using the hidden handle? How many people have trouble locating the hidden handle? Of course some prestige wagons have an automatic rear door that pops up at the press of a button on the key ring. But the bulk are still manual. We like the simplicity and practicality - of this tried-and-true system. Another brownie point for the Santa Fe.

Access to third row seats 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe


As mentioned the Santa Fe is a seven-seater so this will appeal to larger families and those not so large who every now and then need extra seats people like soccer dads or netball mums and again Santa Fe has been simply clever. One of the great issues with seven seaters is creating easy access to the third row of seats. I've lost count of the times I've bumped my head or hit a leg getting into and out of these seats while testing various vehicles. No such problem with the Santa Fe which has a second-row seat tumble system that creates a large entry for the third pew. You simply lift one small lever atop the seat to lean the back forward and then push another lever to easily and lightly roll the seat forward. This system is fitted only to the passenger side which also in Australia and New Zealand happens to be the safety side, or the footpath side. Once again only a small issue, but an important one.

rear luggage area Hyundai Santa Fe


The third row of seats fold flat to create a large cargo area. Which is just as well as with all seven seats in use there's not a lot luggage area. Barely enough for the weekly shopping and certainly not enough for a family holiday. If you need seven seats then a roof rack would be essential for times like holidays using the car. Both the second and third row of seats have excellent head room and the second row also has plenty of leg space. The third row of seats is ideally for smaller children, but could accommodate two small adults for short trips.

rear seat are 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander


Santa Fe has iPod connectivity and a connection comes with the vehicle. The connection point is situated just in front of the gear lever and has it's own `tray' to accommodate the iPod itself. Just behind the gear lever is the driver/passenger armrest which also doubles as a two stage storage area. The top space is small, but handy while the larger lower area is chilled and ideal for keeping drinks cold. Plus the colling system can be turned off by rotating a vent at the bottom of the pit.

iPod connectivity 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe


Highlander is fitted with leather upholstery and each of the front seats get power settings, including adjustable lumbar support for the driver. The front seats are comfortable and the ergonomics are good. The audio and cruise controls are on the steering wheel where they should be and the air conditioning knobs on the front of the dash are large and easy to use. Power window switches are on the driver's armrest at the fall of the right hand. Once again absolute ease of use. One thing we did not like is the digital read-out for the trip computer. It's far too small and being grey on black is difficult to read in any case. This needs some attention when Hyundai get around to facelifting the vehicle.

dashboard 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander


Hyundai had a team of 147 engineers work for three and a half years to develop the R 2.2 turbo-diesel engine that powers not only Santa Fe, but also subsidiary, Kia Sorento. This engine puts out 145 kW of power and more importantly 436 Nm of torque (421 Nm with manual transmission) matched to the superb six speed auto fitted with a sequential shifter. If you are not up on torque figures, the latest Toyota LandCruiser petrol V8 puts out 410 Nm, so there is anything but a lack of grunt from under the Santa Fe bonnet. The engine is simply never found wanting. It does however provide some torque steer, although Hyundai have done a pretty good job to keep it under control. It is not difficult to spin the front wheels from scratch in 2WD mode.

audio and air controls 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander


Hyundai claim 7.5 litres/100 km from the engine when linked to the auto shifter. We managed just 9.6 litres/100 km which is a lot of variance. We spent most of our week around the Gold Coast in suburban driving. Hyundai claim 6.3 litres/100 on highway cycle, so we are sure some country running would see a vastly improved return. Also the car had done just a tad more than 4000 kilometres so we would also expect the return to improve from 15,000 ks on the clock. The new 6 speed transmission is superbly mated to the engine and the ratios seem just right for all conditions. Even urgent and fast acceleration is on tap at any time which is not the norm with a lot of diesel/auto combinations.

front wheel and fog lamp 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander


Apart from a small amount of understeer in hard cornering the Santa Fe has excellent road manners. Body roll is limited and the car hangs on surprisingly well even on sharp bends. In normal operation the vehicle is in two wheel drive until wheel slip is detected when it automatically engages all four wheels. If you need all wheel drive for slippery road conditions or on easy to medium off-road conditions - then a simple press of a button locks AWD.

VERDICT: Ideal family wagon perhaps a little over-priced. Gets most things right, some items better than most.

MODEL RANGE Hyundai R 2.2

SLX manual $37,990

SLX auto $39,990

Elite auto $43,990

Highlander auto $48,490


ABS Brakes: standard

Air Conditioning: Standard

Automatic Transmission: standard

CD Player: standard

Central Locking: standard

Cruise Control: standard

Dual Front Airbags: standard

Front Side Airbags: standard

Curtain airbag: standard

Stability Control: standard

Traction Control: standard

Electronic Stability Control: standard



Capacity: 2.2 litres (transverse mounting)

Configuration: 4 in-line

Head Design: DOHC 4 valves per cylinder

Compression Ratio: 16:1

Bore/Stroke: 85.4 mm x 96.0 mm

Maximum Power: 145 kW @ 3800 rpm

Maximum Torque: 436 Nm @ 1800 2500 rpm


Driven Wheels: AWD on demand

Manual Transmission: Six speed

Automatic Transmission: Six speed

Final Drive Ratio: 3.195:1


Length: 4660 mm

Wheelbase: 2700 mm

Width: 1890 mm

Height: 1725 mm (1760 with roof rails)

Turning Circle: 10.8 metres

Kerb Mass: 1998 kg

Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 litres

Towing Ability: 2000 kg (kg with braked trailer)


Front Suspension: MacPherson struts

Rear Suspension: multi-link

Front Brakes: Ventilated disc

Rear Brakes: Solid disc

Spare wheel: Full size spare alloy


0-100 km/h Acceleration: N/A seconds


Type: Diesel

Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 7.5 L/100km


Greenhouse Rating: 6.5 /10

Air Pollution Rating: 3/10

10= Best


5 years/ Unlimited km

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