SUV from cen­tral cast­ing

Hyundai’s seven-seater plays the fam­ily favourite role

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cover Story -

prime ex­am­ple— the ex­tent and so­phis­ti­ca­tion of their pack­ages are over­haul­ing the com­pe­ti­tion on more than mere af­ford­abil­ity.

Some as­pects of the Santa Fe sur­pass not only the best of Ja­pan, which in any case we’ve come to quite ex­pect, but also ap­proach the per­ceiv­ably more pres­ti­gious auto houses of Europe. Smirk if you must but Hyundai is com­ing ever closer to be­ing what mar­ket­ing types call as­pi­ra­tional’’.

VALUE

As ever, as we say, to the fore. Still, even with­out driv­ing it, we’d es­chew the en­try Santa Fe Ac­tive with the petrol engine — for all the buy­ers the $36,990 ver­sion will get, it might as well come with­out wheels. In re­al­ity the range starts at $38,990 for the auto.

Even so turbo diesel torque and econ­omy are what’s re­quired here and that means $41,990 for the Ac­tive, $45,990 for the mid-spec Elite which we drove this week, and $10 un­der $50K for the op­u­lent High­lander.

Full kit lists would take up this page and much of the next. Suf­fice that all mod­els get as stan­dard an il­lu­mi­nated rear view cam­era (which you don’t get in, say, an $85K Benz E-Class). There’s an end­lessly flex­i­ble seven-seat con­fig­u­ra­tion in­clud­ing a flat­fold­ing third row. All vari­ants have a mul­ti­me­dia screen, the Elite cop­ping a 7-inch touch­screen with sat­nav, elec­tro-chro­matic rear-view mir­ror with com­pass, 10-speaker sound and 18-inch al­loys. It’s the one to get— the High­lander only adds such frip­pery as a full-length sun­roof and bum-warm­ing seats.

The mar­ket-lead­ing war­ranty adds capped-price ser­vic­ing and up to seven years’ com­pli­men­tary road­side as­sist. Thus far, so log­i­cal.

TECH­NOL­OGY

On so clear a por­tal, the touch­screen sat­nav (along with var­i­ous mul­ti­me­dia func­tions) is the most leg­i­ble and in­tu­itive I’ve used.

BMWp­re­sents a bank of anony­mous, in­dis­tin­guish­able but­tons to bol­ster its wretched iDrive sys­tem and its fel­low Ger­mans re­main ad­dicted t knob-twid­dling dis­trac­tion. the Hyundai, such func­tion that are not ac­ti­vated via fin­ger­tip are done via steeri wheel but­tons.

If that’s so­phis­ti­cat­edly sim­ple, the Flex Steer funct is sophistry. Billed as al­lowi the driver to cus­tomise stee weight, the three modes are vir­tu­ally in­dis­tin­guish­able b all are united by ar­ti­fi­cial if func­tional feel. More im­pres­sive is the four-whee drive sys­tem that can be loc

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