The fourth-generation SUV's opening price applies to the entry-level 2.2-litre diesel variant, which comes in SE form and with two-wheel drive. It includes 17in wheels, a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) and driver assist features such as lane-keep assist, among other standard features.
Opt for a £36,425 Premium model and the seven-seater gains 18in wheels, an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system with live services and traffic messaging, plus wireless phone charging. Top-of-the-range Premium SE cars cost from £41,795 and add rear cross traffic alert with brake assist technology and 19in wheels.
The new Santa Fe's design is derived from the smaller Kona and Nexo SUVs, with split headlight clusters and a trapezoidal grille. At 4770mm long and 1890mm wide, it is 70mm longer and 10mm wider than the outgoing model. The additional length also brings about a longer wheelbase, with leg room for rear passengers said to have been improved.
Under the bonnet will be a choice of three engines, two of which are new to the Santa Fe. The existing 194bhp 2.2-litre diesel — the only unit offered on the current car in the UK — is the first to become available and will be joined by a new 2.0-litre diesel later on. A 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine will also be introduced to the range. An eight-speed automatic transmission will be available with all three units.
An electronic four-wheel drive system that's new to mass-market Hyundai models is also being used on the Santa Fe. Named HTRAC — short for 'Hyundai traction' — and previously used by Hyundai's premium sub-brand Genesis, the system provides multiple driving modes, is capable of sending up to 50% of torque rearwards and is likely to bolster the new Santa Fe’s potential as the most rugged and capable model in the Hyundai range. Torque vectoring capabilities are also part of the system, offering increased grip and control, the company says.
Technology takes a step forward over the previous model, with automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist and lane departure warning all standard. A driver alertness system and other safety assistance features are also installed, as well as a voice recognition system with built-in artificial intelligence. It has yet to be confirmed if the latter system will make it to UK cars.
Also new to Hyundai is a Safety Exit Assist system, which uses sensors in the rear of the car to prevent rear passengers from opening the doors into the path of approaching traffic and warns front passengers if they are about to do so. Passive safety is taken care of with a 57% use of high-strength steel — the highest proportion across Hyundai's range and a 15% increase on the outgoing model.