Take new Santa Fe to family outing
By Kim Da-ye
Hyundai Motor’s all-new Santa Fe has finally done justice to the name.
Santa Fe is a beautiful tourist destination in New Mexico known for outdoor activities and folk art.
Hyundai’s flagship sports utility vehicle (SUV) named after the city has been highly popular in both Korea and the U.S. ― around 608,000 have been here and 1.95 million overseas. The first and second generation models, however, were rather ordinary with no wow factor.
The third-generation model, a significant improvement in terms of driving comfort and design, is special. It is an ideal choice for a family holiday.
Regarding its exteriors, the Santa Fe is a beast.
Its wide hexagonal grill makes the front look like the giant head of a roaring tiger.
The edges of the headlamps resemble black eyeliner makeup on a villain.
Hyundai provided reporters at a test drive with the top-end 2.2-liter model equipped with every option available. The dark hue of the 19-inch aluminum wheel and chrome grill matches available on the 1.66-milion-won Special Edition option package matches the aura the vehicle exudes.
What’s missing is that unique fluidic look first seen in the YF Sonata sedan and now applied across Hyundai’s new vehicle models.
The rear of the Santa Fe looks sleeker and more agile than the front. The LED “real combination lamp” is a design success.
The third-generation Santa Fe’s real personality, however, makes a stark contrast to its exteriors.
The vehicle drives quietly and smoothly like a mid-large sized sedan ― driving at over 100 kilometers per hour (km/h) felt like cruising at under 50 km/h.
This is quite an achievement for a Korean-developed SUV fueled by diesel, which isn’t commonly used here but is gaining popularity for better efficiency than that of gasoline.
The 2.2-liter engine model with an automatic transmission touts 200 horsepower and fuel efficiency at 13.9 kilometers per liter.
The tested model effortlessly reached 160 km/h but struggled to speed up beyond that. No driver should accelerate over that with families in the car anyway.
The finishing touch to the Santa Fe’s fine driving comfort would be the “wide panorama sunroof” that is available as a 1.3-million-won option from the most basic trim model.
Opening the panoramic sunroof while driving on an empty highway would instantly create a holiday atmosphere.
And the innovation of information technology incorporated in automobiles continues in the new Santa Fe.
Its lane departure warning system (LDWS) works too well. With the LDWS button pressed, the car beeps even at a slight deviation from the lane.
The third-generation Santa Fe is also Hyundai Motor’s first vehicle model to accommodate the Blue Link function in its smart navigation system.
Once drivers subscribe to the Blue Link service provided jointly by telecom giant KT, they can remotely control their cars with an app on the smartphone.
Before entering the parking lot, this reporter was given an iPhone with the Blue Link app installed. On the iPhone, this reporter turned on the vehicle and set the temperature. It takes a minute or two for the car to receive the order.
By the time, the report reached the car, it has already started up the engine with the air conditioning fully on.
Many car buyers’ decision would be ultimately depending on the Santa Fe’s price. A usual complaint from potential buyers is that imported vehicles are becoming cheaper while Hyundai has been raising prices. For Hyundai, such complaint is unfair, considering improvement in quality and addition of options as standard features.
The prices of the all-new Santa Fe models unveiled on May 1 probably reflect the circumstances. They range from 28.02 million won to 37.76 million won exclusive of options. An automatic transmission is a standard.
Hyundai said that the price of the “Premium” trim model that is expected to sell the most has gone up only by 240,000 won, compared to its second-generation counterpart, while addition of new specifications and improvement of fuel efficiency are valued at around 1.8 million won.