Hyundai Santa Fe review New Zealand
At virtually every indoor (or even outdoor stadium for that matter) event, albeit a concert, play, a big game or a smaller show there are those good, upfront, touching distance seats, followed by the rather average, middle of the road positions and then finally, there’s those way back at the rear, or high up in the rafters (often with restricted views) - that are affectionately known as ‘the Cheap Seats’
The cheap seats (or nose-bleed seats) are a win-win way for venues to eke out every last drop of revenue from an event by offering less than ideal locations to those that were keen to attend but have a limited budget to adhere to. However, It’s not just venues that have seating snobbery issues, aside from the upmarket chauffeur-driven variety, being relegated to the rear of a car strikes such emotion that the term ‘shotgun’ is often yelled with both vigour and urgency, often followed by a thumb to the forehead for some odd reason. Let’s face it, everyone wants to sit up front, well that is until now. You see, just as venues have evolved, so has the seating arrangements in the automobile, with the rear 5-seats in the new Hyundai Santa Fe being a perfect example.
Alas, passenger vehicles are giving way to the SUV and as it has evolved (from what was once just a high-riding, bigger lump of a vehicle to now being a refined and technologically advanced ride) so have the space and luxuries within.
Let me begin at the end, the tail-end that is. Hyundai gave me the 2.2L Elite HTrac (basically Hyundai’s AWD system) to play with. It’s the middle of the range yet comes very well equipped - I’ll get to that in a moment. Opening its expansive tailgate gives you access to 547L of 3rd-row seat down space (1,625L with all seats down) and more importantly, for this article, gives you a glimpse of the two rear seats in the third row and their simple ‘ripcord’ raise and drop system.
In some 7-seat SUVs entry to this third row comes at either a struggle or requires second-row person assistance, not the case with the new Santa Fe, a simple push of a button on the kerb-side (naturally) seat makes adequate way for even those of us with sizable girth, exit is maybe even easier, with the button located near the same seat’s headrest. The third-row seats have their own air conditioning setting, fancy, more than ample visibility (although I had difficulty reading the 8” infotainment touchscreen on the dashboard from so far back), there’s plenty of foot space but it is a bit neat on the headroom for an adult (at 1.73m I touched the roof). Easy access, comfy, good views, own A/C and maybe located in an area a little more ‘exclusive’ for the smaller ones - not exactly the ‘cheap seats’ anymore are they!
The second-row seats come with their heating, 60/40 split and have the ability to move the front passenger seat forward and back via buttons on the centre console side for more room (or simply to annoy them). They can move forward and recline, come with two USB power ports and have a couple of cup holders in the armrest (or is that a personal space divider?). Ok, so the front seats come with electric 10way driver/8way passenger adjustability and access to the infotainment toys but overall there's an upmarket quilted design to the upper end of the first 5-seats and all 7 came with a smart leather covering - phew.
Of course, there is much more to the new Santa Fe than the seats. The exterior has a fresh new design with a front grille that’s more in line with the new face of Hyundai. It has a lighter (yet stronger) frame and comes with a full suite of Hyundai ‘SmartSense’ safety technology.
My model came equipped with a heated steering wheel, a lovely clear screen with reversing camera huge bucket for your mobile phone to charge in. Adaptive cruise control, lane keep alert and assist (that eases your steering back in between the lines, a large storage box in the centre console, various Drive Modes including Eco and Sport and it also had ‘Smart’ which changed the modes in response to my driving - So that’s why I was in Sport most of the time.
The new Hyundai Santa Fe is a great family vehicle. It ticks a lot of the boxes that passengers of all ages and sizes require. Its 2.2L diesel engine offers 147kW and 440Nm, sips fuel at 7.5L/100km and emits CO2’s at 198g/km. It has clear, all-round vision, plenty of technology and felt very strong on the road. In fact, about the only thing that you’ll find missing is this all-new SUV is the dibs on ‘Shotgun’ - guess it’s gonna be rather peaceful up front.