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Hey, hey! Santa Fe wagon drives family wagon upmarket

  • More comfort features, premium design
  • Big Korean gets new gearbox, more space
  • Top model gets high-tech, all-wheel drive
2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE: Image: Hyundai / Quickpic
2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE: Image: Hyundai / Quickpic

STELLENBOSCH, Western Cape – Hyundai’s fourth-generation Santa Fe is now with South African dealers, a choice of three models carrying smarter tech, a larger cabin, improved comfort, and a new gearbox.

It’s the brand’s flagship, first seen in South Africa in 2001 but now (2018) regarded by its maker as having best-in-class crash avoidance and mitigation packages, luxury-vehicle comfort and cabin space, and ”more comfort features”.

2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE: Image: Hyundai / Quickpic
2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE: Image: Hyundai / Quickpic

Unlike some competitors, the model choice is simple: three units in a choice of seven colours, each with a new eight-speed auto gearbox and one with all-wheel drive, driven by a 2.2-litre CRDi diesel engine capable of 142kW / 440Nm whose fuel consumption, Hyundai says, has been reduced by about four percent.


Amendments to the gearbox, its ratio spread enlarged by nearly 20%, Hyundai says, have reduced acceleration times.

The choices are:

Santa Fe R 2.2 Premium a/t (front-wheel drive)
Santa Fe R 2.2 Executive a/t (front-wheel drive)
Santa Fe R 2.2 Elite a/t (HTRAC all-wheel drive)

The most obvious design change involves the nose which has, its maker says, ”eye-catching composite lights and a cascading grille”. ”Its SUV-family identity,” the Koreans add, ” is characterised by a wide and powerful stance and an athletically bold look.

2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE: Image: Hyundai / Quickpic
2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE: Image: Hyundai / Quickpic

”Its refined lines reinforce the car’s status at the top of Hyundai’s SUV line-up.”


AWD, only on the top model, varies torque distribution and braking power to each wheel and can be set to handle most surfaces and to enhance cornering stability.

The new gearbox layout offers a more compact set-up and an increased gear span for enhanced performance and reduced fuel consumption. The gear ratio is widened by 18,3 %, resulting in an improved engine response during start and acceleration.

During braking the engine response is improved due to a higher downshifting point. The higher gear ratio width ensures greater differentiation of the drive modes.

Among tech advances – this one only on the Elite model – is a rear-seat passenger reminder (handy for hassled parents!) and electronic child-locks.

2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE: Image: Hyundai / Quickpic
2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE: Image: Hyundai / Quickpic

The Exec and Elite also get self-braking rear cross-traffic alerts and blind-spot warnings that include ”safe exit assist” – this temporarily locks the doors, when stationary, until the blind-spot alert decides there is no threat from passing traffic.


Each derivative has anti-lock brakes, stability control, gradient braking control and hill-start assistance and its shell, the automaker says, has more high-strength steel than any other Hyundai – 57%, which is 15% more than the previous model.

This 2018 model scored five stars from Euro NCAP crash testing.

An infotainment system with a 19cm colour screen is standard across the range to handle media and connectivity to smartphones through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Occupants can also use phone satnav applications and voice recognition to take calls or dictate messages.

The rear-camera view will use the same screen when reverse gear is engaged and other devices can connect via a USB port or an auxiliary (AUX) jack.

2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE: Image: Hyundai / Quickpic
2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE: Image: Hyundai / Quickpic

Three wheel-rim designs are available: 18” for the Premium two designs of 19” for Executive and Elite versions respectively. The Santa Fe 4.77, long, 1.89m wide, and has a 2.765m wheelbase.

The drivers and front passenger will ride on power-adjustable (through 10 positions) and extendable seats cushions and the middle row of three seats have more legroom, the third row accessible by a one-touch walkthrough.

The ceiling over the third row is now 22mm higher and boot capacity is 31 litres greater at 547 litres – enlarged to 1625 litres if the two rear rows of seats are dropped.

READ MORE Hyundai features on Carman’s Corner

The Elite derivative adds a 19cm TFT colour info display in the centre of the instrument cluster for speed, engine revolutions, and other information, among the, a ”selected drive” mode in blue, green or red. Lesser derivatives have a conventional nine cm monochrome display.

The Elite adds a sunroof, power tail-door (height- and opening-speed adjustable), sunroof, driver and front passenger seat with the option of heating or cooling, and steering-wheel paddle-shift gear choice.

Rear side-door retractable side curtains, push-button keyless start, and folding external mirrors are also standard on the Elite and Executive.

All derivatives have cruise control and leather upholstery, power electric adjustment for the Executive’s driver seat, and for driver and passenger seats in the Elite.

The Premium derivative’s seat has manual adjustment but aircon is standard in each version.


The Elite’s Hyundai-developed traction system is based on all-wheel drive technology that adjusts power delivery to each wheel, depending on each wheel’s grip and vehicle speed, to benefit acceleration, stability and fuel consumption.

The net effect is better traction on greasy, gravel, or normal road surfaces, especially through road curves, though this is variable.

  • Sport mode improves acceleration with torque split 50:50 to each axle
  • Comfort mode sends only 35% torque to the rear wheels
  • Eco mode reduces cruising fuel consumption by sending power to only the front wheels
  • In slippery conditions the system distributes power to all wheels automatically

Overall, Hyundai says, the fourth-generation Santa Fe’s development of suspension and steering has improved responsiveness and vehicle stability while ”enhancing comfort and overall quietness”.

2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE: Image: Hyundai / Quickpic
2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE: Image: Hyundai / Quickpic

Some other benefits with the new wagon:

Lane-keeping alerts the driver, at more than 60km/h, just before the vehicle crosses a road line, and attempts corrective steering.

Blind-Spot collision warning uses radar, if a change in lane trajectory is detected while another vehicle is about to overtake. The driver will be warned if an indicator is used.

Overall, along with six crash bags (two front, two side, two curtain) covering the first and second rows of seats), the systems contributed to the vehicles getting a five-star crash-avoidance / protection rating.

Hyundai Santa Fe R 2.2 Premium a/t – R599 900
Hyundai Santa Fe R 2.2 Executive a/t – R659 900
Hyundai Santa Fe R 2.2 Elite a/t – R749 900

…which include a seven-year or 200 000km Hyundai warranty consisting of the standard five-year or 150 000km warranty and an extra two two-year or 50 000km drivetrain warranty extension).

Tagged on are a five-year or 90 000km service plan and five years or 150 000km of roadside assistance.

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