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[Behind the Wheel] Hyundai’s Santa Fe family SUV is bigger, safer

Hyundai Motor’s fourth-generation midsize sport utility vehicle Sante Fe is revamped for the first time in six years, geared with features for higher convenience and cutting edge safety suits.

Like the Kona small SUV, the new Santa Fe also carries Hyundai’s trademark features of enlarged and contemporary exterior.

The family SUV carries Hyundai’s signature hexagonal cascading grille and a composite light with light emitting diode daytime running lights placed on top of LED headlights.

The enlarged vehicle is 4,770 millimeters long, 1,890 mm wide, and 1,680 mm high with a 2,765mm wheel base. That’s 70 mm longer and 10 mm wider than the previous model, with a 65 mm longer wheel base.

Hyundai Motor’s fourth-generation Santa Fe midsize sport utility vehicle (Hyundai Motor)
Hyundai Motor’s fourth-generation Santa Fe midsize sport utility vehicle (Hyundai Motor)

Both the front and rear seats have plenty of head and leg room, even for a 180-centimeter-tall passenger.

Inside the vehicle, the floating touchscreen positioned above the buttons is intuitive for drivers and passengers to operate, while the brown leather used on the seats, arm rest and elsewhere gives a luxurious touch.

Completing its function as a family SUV, the safety exit assist automatically locks the back door when it senses a vehicle approaching from behind.

The first-ever rear occupant alert, sounds an alarm, turns on emergency lights and sends text messages to the driver if a child is left behind in the rear seat after the driver has stepped outside the car.

Hyundai’s first cross traffic collision-avoidance assist has been installed to prevent drivers from colliding with cars approaching from behind when reversing the vehicle.

The vehicle is equipped with a slew of high tech safety features as standard, including forward collision-avoidance assist, forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, driver attention warning, and high beam assist.

With the new features, the price tag has been marked at 1 million won ($894) higher than the previous version ranging from 28.9 million won to 36.8 million won.

To meet the new Euro 6 standards, the R-engine has a selective catalytic reduction system and a NOx trap to reduce emissions, the company said.

The 2.0-liter turbo petrol engine generates up to 235 horse power and 36 kilogram-meters of torque, with a fuel economy of 9.5 kilometers per liter.

The fuel efficiency and driving performance has been improved on the all-wheel and eight-speed automatic transmission as standard, enabling smooth and powerful driving experience.

The Santa Fe comes in three types: 2.0-liter diesel, 2.2-liter diesel, and 2.0-liter turbo-petrol.

Among local carmakers, Santa Fe SUV was the second most sold model in the first half of this year, posting 51,753 in sales out of which 8,055 units were previous models, the company said.

Hoping to win over drivers in the struggling US market, Hyundai said it plans to launch the Santa Fe SUV there later this year. 

The Korea Herald rating (out of 5 stars):
Design: 4 stars
Safety: 5 stars
Gas Mileage: 4 stars
Price: 5 stars
Overall: 18/20

By Kim Bo-gyung (