What is it?
This is the largest SUV Hyundai that sells in the UK. It finds around 4000 buyers each year in the UK, and is now entering its fourth iteration.
The formula essentially remains the same for this latest version, but there’s been some significant evolution. The most obvious is that it now resembles a more traditional SUV, chiefly because the rear side windows dip deeper towards the waist, the successful aim being to improve visibility for passengers riding in the rear seats.
Hyundai says that change was requested by owners with families, many based in the United States and South Korea where most Santa Fes are sold. So this remains an SUV mainly aimed at markets other than Europe, as it always has been. But that doesn’t negate its appeal here.
There are plenty of other modernising changes, including adaptive instruments, a refreshed cabin architecture, a wider palette of thoughtfully coordinated trim colours and an improvement in materials quality.
The usual suite of electronic driver aids are present, as they were in the previous Santa Fe. New is a safety system that temporarily locks the doors should an occupant attempt to open one into the path of oncoming traffic.
There’s a new head-up display of heightened clarity, and the infotainment screen functions as a virtual rear-view mirror to help should the real thing be part-obscured.
Also fitted is Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel-drive system, which apportions torque in varying quantities between the axles depending on the conditions, besides braking individual wheels to further improve traction.
This latest Santa Fe is bigger, like almost every other replacement model, although Hyundai has yet to reveal whether it’s any heavier. One ingenious weight-saving and rigidity-enhancing detail is the use of fatter spot welds, which form more robust joints between panels – more of which are high strength pressings.
While the 2018 Santa Fe rides on an all-new platform, the powertrains are carried over. The main engine for the UK will be the current 2.2-litre 194bhp diesel, available either with a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic. A 2.4-litre petrol may come here. That there is no 1.6-litre turbo petrol option, a powertrain that might better suit European buyers, underlines the Santa Fe’s American and Asian focus.