Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Family Car Integral to Sports Utility Scene

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Family Car Integral to Sports Utility Scene

Article excerpt

Byline: EWAN KENNEDY

HYUNDAI is one of the strongest players in the Australian automotive scene, rising rapidly through the ranks of the top 10. And one of its strong sellers was its first ever entrant in the 4WD field a the Santa Fe.

Slightly larger than average for its class, the Santa Fe can be used as a family car, provided the kids aren't overly large.

There's good legroom in the rear, but some of that legroom has been gained by stealing space from the front seat occupants. As well as the normal cargo area, there's a bin recessed into the right-side wall and hidden storage spaces under the lift-up floor panel.

A retractable blind and luggage net combine to improve safety and security. The rear glass can be opened separately if you don't want to lift the whole tail-gate, a real convenience in cramped car parks.

Off-road, Santa Fe's better than average for its class and can cope with harsher conditions than those likely to be challenged by the typical owner. Hence our calling it a 4WD, rather than an SUV. But don't mistake if for a full house off-roader or you may get yourself into strife.

The Santa Fe first reached Australia in 2000 and sales were moderately good from the start, though it must be said the somewhat over-the-top styling didn't appeal to everyone.

An all-new, larger, Hyundai Santa Fe was launched in May 2006 with a more mainstream look that saw it pick up a lot of buyer interest. The 2006 model was offered with a third row of seats for the first time.

Ride comfort is generally good, and handling is nicely sorted for Australian conditions. The Koreans really seem to have a feel for what Australian drivers like in their vehicles. In the bush, the Santa Fe copes well with corrugations, and in the suburbs speed-bumps seldom cause any real grief.

Santa Fe originally arrived only with the power of Hyundai's 2.7-litre V6 engine, but the range was expanded in 2001 when a four-cylinder 2.4-litre unit arrived.

The four-cylinder engine wasn't all that popular and was taken off the Australian market towards the end of 2003. That's no reflection on the four-cylinder engine itself and it should make a good used-car buy. …

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