The Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander … we’ve had it for evaluation for just 24 hours so far and I have to say that I love it. It really does seem like an almost perfect fit for me whether I’m driving around town or out on the open road.
It’s comfortable … it’s 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine is very responsive … the six-speed automatic transmission is smooth … the ride and handling on tar is wonderful and what really tops the whole thing off for me is just how economical it is to operate.
That’s not to say that the Hyundai Santa Fe is perfect … I don’t think any car is perfect … but this one ticked nearly all the right boxes for me and that was just on the five hour trip back to our office. On the other hand my partner found that, while the front passenger has plenty of leg-room, it’s a different matter in the driver’s seat.
If you’re tall then you may just find that it’s not all that comfortable for you behind the steering wheel.
If you leave leg-room out of the comfort equation then you’ll find that the front seats in the Santa Fe are very comfortable and the second row of seats is quite comfortable too. There is a third row of seats but that row is strictly for kids … the leg-room is very limited and I doubt that any adult would be comfortable back there.
The driver’s seat in the Highlander comes with lumbar support but the passenger seat doesn’t however you may not even notice that it’s missing … on the trip back to the office, when I was in the passenger seat I certainly had no problems with back support.
We actually took a detour on the trip back to the office and drove out to Ipswich to pick up our daughter and granddaughter to take them to lunch. The baby is still too small to travel in anything but a safety capsule and fitting it into the Santa Fe was no problem at all. There are three different mounting points across the back of the second row of seats so you can place the capsule anywhere that works for you and there’s still plenty of room for adults in the other two seating positions.
Ride and handling
That side trip to Ipswich gave us the chance to take a different (and longer) route home and if you want to know what the ride and handling of a car is like on the tar then there’s no better road to take than the back road from Esk to Kilcoy. In places it winds around the picturesque shores of Somerset Dam and you get a combination of everything from long straights to 40km/h bends and plenty of hills.
I won’t get carried away and say that the Santa Fe handled like a sports car but it went through some tight bends at legally high speeds with no body roll … no squealing tyres and certainly no understeer. Even on slight corrugation at the apex of the curve there was no sign that the Santa Fe wanted to get a little skittish and when I wanted to accelerate out of a curve the response was immediate and there was plenty of power in reserve.
And despite driving the Santa Fe hard on that back road we still managed to achieve a fuel consumption figure of 6.8L/100m on the trip back and that included Brisbane and Ipswich traffic, plenty of open road touring and running the second air conditioner for a while as well.
Yes the Santa Fe Highlander comes with two air conditioners and that’s not overkill up here in Queensland.
And that was my first 24 hours in the Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander. We’ve got a long weekend coming up here in Queensland and we’re going to use it to take the Santa Fe away on a few short trips over a variety of roads … including some fun in the forests just south of here.