ONCE upon a time … (as my three year old daughter likes to start a story), the humble family car designed for the larger family was a station wagon with extra seats fitted, or what Americans like to call a mini-van or people mover.
Those days have long since passed, and now the seven seat options are many and varied, crossing a wide span of body shapes, budgets and brands to give car owners, particularly families, a variety of choices.
One of these many options has recently hit the market with its new model range, and it’s hard to go past the seven seat 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Elite – it’s budget conscious, meets all the needs of the family SUV market space, and still comes with all the features you would expect from its much dearer rivals.
There’s plenty to love about the mid-spec Santa Fe Elite (the Active is the lesser model, and the Highlander the top of the range) including its upgraded exterior that gives it a more fluid stylised look from the outside, a range of improved safety features (including a 5-star safety rating), and Australian-tuned suspension to meet the harshness of our roads.
A modern, more up-market interior, and a raft of features that includes keyless entry and start, electronic park brake, leather appointed seats (with heating in the front), satellite navigation, premium audio, and dual zone climate control complete the new look.
Staying with the inside of the vehicle for the moment, we suggest having a read, or at least a quick glance, at the owners manual for two reasons, the first being you’ll need to know how to work the rear seats, and get access to them from inside the vehicle – a move that can be tricky for first timers, but is okay once you get the hang of it.
The other reason to read the manual, is so you’ll know where the strategically hidden fuel door release is. For the record, it’s located under the arm rest in the middle of the drivers’ door – an unusual spot to say the least, but again, once you know it’s there, you know it’s there.
The Elite also comes with heated electric folding mirrors, a smart tail gate (that opens by itself when you stand at the rear of the car), and 18-inch alloy wheels, along with stamped stainless steel scuff plates, a massive 516L boot space, and even a cooled glove box.
Powered by a well tuned 2.2L four cylinder turbo diesel power plant that generates 145kW and 435Nm of torque, the Santa Fe has plenty of legs, although we did notice some turbo lag here and there when we asked for instantaneous grunt.
The Santa Fe Elite runs a six speed automatic transmission (with manual shifting option), with full-time All Wheel Drive, and offers three different steering settings at the push of a button – Normal, Comfort and Sports, as well as featuring an Eco performance mode to lower revs and reduce fuel usage (although the 7.3L/100km is pretty good for a big SUV anyway).
Competing with the Kia Sorrento, Holden Colorado 7, the Toyota Kluger GXL, and Ford Territory TS, the Santa Fe Elite can definitely hold its own. In fact it’s a better car, with a better overall driving experience than all of these – and with solid features, price, warranty, and capped price serving, it’s hard to go past.
On the market for $48,490 (plus on-roads), the 2015 Santa Fe Elite comes in a range of colours including Creamy White, Glacier, Ocean View, Phantom Black, Red Merlot, Sleek Silver and Titanium Silver. With the exception of Creamy White, all other colours are metallic, and carry an additional metallic paint price.
Test vehicle provided by Hyundai Australia. For more on the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Elite, contact your local Hyundai dealer.