Hyundai’s large Santa Fe seven-seat sports utility vehicle has been given a makeover. All three variants – Active, Elite and Highlander – gain fresh looks inside and out, while the features list has been boosted.

Technology upgrades include Siri Eyes-Free and Google Now voice activation across the board, while the top-of-the-range Highlander gets new safety systems including Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Smart Cruise Control, Blind-Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Elite and Highlander receive a premium Infinity 550-Watt Logic7 audio system, with six speakers, two tweeters, a centre speaker, sub-woofer and external amplifier.

Needless to say, being a Hyundai, the Santa Fe Series II has been put through an extensive range-wide Australia-focused ride and handling regimen. On test I had a flagship Highlander, which comes to market for $55,990, plus on-road costs.

In keeping with modern trends, the Santa Fe Series II takes its cue from the latest Tucson with the Hyundai family grille featuring a satin-chrome surround and inserts.

New-design front and rear incorporate bumpers and silver-effect skid plate, the rear housing dual trapezoidal chromed exhaust tips.

Headlamps and taillights have been redesigned, as have foglights and LED daytime running lights, the Highlander incorporating LEDs in the bulb turn signal and reverse lamp. Highlander gets new design 19-inch alloy wheels.


Design and specification upgrades are aimed at giving a premium feel. Key changes include a new-look instrument cluster and new audio head units, while the Highlander features new trim of matte carbon effect.

Occupants can enjoy three-step seat warmers at the front and warmers on outboard seats in the rear. Ventilated front seats are also fitted. A nice touch is the way the retractable cargo cover, with a two-position setting, can be stowed under the cargo bay floor next to the jack when not needed.

The new touchscreen multimedia in Highlander utilises an 8.0-inch satellite navigation system and connects via USB, Aux, Digital iPod, and Bluetooth and integrates with Siri or Google Now via voice activation.

The Voice button on the audio unit connects users to let them make calls, play music, compose text messages, access calendar information, add reminders and more.

Also paired with the satellite-navigation system, the Infinity audio system uses Digital Signal Processing to provide equalisation, spectral management, time alignment, and Logic7 surround sound processing to fit with the cabin acoustics.


The updated common-rail direct injection 2.2 diesel engine now delivers 147 kW at 3800 rpm (up 2 kW) and 440 Nm at 1750-2750rpm (up 4 Nm), all contributing to performance and fuel efficiency.

The engine is available with a six-speed manual gearbox (Active only) or six-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel consumption is claimed by the maker at 6.3 litre per 100 kilometres with manual transmission and 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres with six-speed automatic.

With Lane Departure Warning already on Highlander, there is a number of advanced safety systems taken up by the Series II model. These include Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

In addition to the existing ‘Parallel Parking’ mode, the updated Smart Parking Assist System on Series II Highlander brings new Reverse Parking (90-degree) and Exit modes.

As modern engines go, the Santa Fe Series II diesel is more noisy than most, with the old distinctive rattle intruding into the passenger cabin. Accelerator pedal response and pulling power, on the other hand, elicited no complaints.

Neither did the ride and handling capabilities, the result of local development combining exhaustive on-road testing and advanced computer modelling. In fact, Hyundai’s Aussie engineers sorted 64 sets of springs and dampers for the Santa Fe Series II, finally settling on rear spring rates increased by four per cent, to help with load-carrying ability.

While the diesel engine may appear a little rough around the edges through noise, the many upgrades to design, specification and price put the Santa Fe Series II Highlander in a position of strength among large SUVs.


Santa Fe Series II Active 2.4 GDi petrol AWD: $38,490 (manual), $40,990 (automatic)
Santa Fe Series II Active 2.2 CRDi diesel AWD: $41,490 (manual), $43,990 (automatic)
Santa Fe Series II Elite 2.2 CRDi diesel AWD: $49,990 (automatic)
Santa Fe Series II Highlander CRDi diesel AWD: $55,990 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Hyundai dealer for drive-away prices.

Reverse Parking (90-degree) and Exit modes for Smart Parking Assist System
Autonomous Emergency Braking
Forward Collision Warning
Smart Cruise Control
Blind Spot Detection
Lane Change Assist
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Front and rear park assist
Panoramic glass sunroof
HID Xenon headlights with washers
Front seat warmers (3 step)
Rear seat warmers (outboard)
Ventilated front seats
LED rear combination lamp
19in alloy wheels, 235/55 R19 tyres
Lane Departure Warning
Smart Parking Assist

SPECIFICATIONS (Hyundai Santa Fe Series II Highlander 2.2-litre CRDi turbo-diesel wagon)

Capacity: 2.199 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line, DOHC, 16-valve, common-rail direct injection
Maximum Power: 147 kW @ 3800 rpm
Maximum Torque: 440 Nm @ 1750-2750 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.3 (7.7) L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 167 (203) g/km

DRIVELINE: Active On-Demand 4WD, with 50/50 split front/rear lock mode up to 30 km/h, 6-speed manual / 6-speed automatic transmission

Length: 4700 mm
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Width: 1880 mm
Height: 1690 mm
Turning Circle: 10.9 metres
Kerb Mass: 1955 (1984) kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 64 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

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