SEVEN’S HEAVEN IN SANTA FE
IMAGINE a world where kids didn’t scream and bicker in the back of the car; where parents could shut off the squabbling and relax, listen to music or, heaven forbid, talk to each other.
You’ll never escape the constant requests to stop for a Happy Meal but you can recapture that pre-children motoring bliss. I discovered this when our family tested a Hyundai Santa Fe over the school holidays. It seems separation is the key. In a seven-seater, you can easily spread the kids out a bit in the car and, hey presto, the fighting stops.
The Santa Fe is a people-pleaser, sleek looking without being racy, not too bulky, not too boxy.
The people-pleaser theme continues inside. So much so that my little people (aged 10, eight and six) squealed with delight when they opened the door and clambered on to the charcoal leather.
Features include heated front seats, dual-zone airconditioning, seven-inch touchscreen with smartphone mirroring via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, sixspeaker audio, keyless entry and start, and a pair of 12V plugs and a USB cable input.
This SUV will suit a family of up to five that needs that extra row of seats for short trips. The second row, which comes with two Isofix points for child seats, is large and spacious.
It was a treat for me to spread my kids out, though the third row is quite small.
The trade-off for using the third row of seats, as with many of these SUVs, is that the boot space is pretty small compared to other family cars.
That said, if rattling around the city is your thing, the Santa Fe comes with plenty of cup holders and a deep centre console bin.
If you can seat all your kids in the second row and fold down the third, it’s a different story. There is enough room for several scooters, a Barbie bike, a border collie pup and a bag jammed with snacks.
The Santa Fe is a smooth, comfortable drive, with a reasonably tight turning circle. Rear parking sensors and reversing camera add to the safe and practical feel.
Hyundai’s standard SmartSense package comes with a pile of features.
Among them are HAC and DBC (hillstart assist control plus downhill brake control), VSM (vehicle stability management), ATCC (advanced traction cornering control), AEB (autonomous emergency braking) and so on.
The acronym I like best, however, is ASPAS, or advanced smart parking assist system.
The ASPAS, not just a safety feature, is also a stress-saver.
When it comes to family cars, the be-alland-end-all is simply the price.
The Santa Fe Highlander we drove isn’t cheap – at a whisker over $60,000 driveaway – but when you consider a top-of-therange Japanese seven-seater will set you back more than $70,000, it’s good value.
The Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander.