Our Cars

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander review long-term

The Santa Fe is one of the country’s most popular SUVs, but what’s it like to live with? Read our weekly reports on the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander.

OUR CAR : 2015 HYUNDAI SANTA FE HIGHLANDER
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 1175KM
PRICE : FROM: $53,240 (+ORC)
FUEL : 5.9L/100KM (TESTED); 7.3L/100KM (OFFICIAL)
SERVICE/FAULTS : NIL

05 JUNE, 2015

Our Hyundai Santa-Fe Highlander Diesel auto longer termer has been given the seal of approval by a budding metal rock band, Death By Six.

Now I must declare a blatant plug here; my son Alex is lead guitarist.

That said, our long termer turned out to be the perfect chariot to whisk the band off to their devoted fans at a recent far away gig.

After being offered the Santa Fe, there was concern that all the gear wouldn’t fit and the trip might have to be undertaken in a BA Falcon wagon.

However, with the third row seats tucked into the floor and the second row seats tumbled forward, it became obvious there was more than enough room.

Carefully loaded and without a millimetre to spare were expensive guitars, amps, headers, mixers, clothes, cable cases, speakers, stands, racks and more and despite earlier reservations, Alex and the other band members were impressed by its cavernous load area.

After an hour of loading and reloading, our trusty long-termer was ready and raring to go. The next step was to stream phones, and most importantly for these guys, stream music. With strict instructions from the old man, off they went.

“All we need to do now is have it signwritten Dad”, Alex said. “Yes, I can imagine the reaction from Hyundai on that one. Safe travel guys” was my reply.

I received a call several hours later advising they had arrived at their destination and all had agreed the Santa Fe was awesome and the perfect band van. In their words the Santa-Fe ‘rocked’ and they all agreed the band should have one as their ‘Official’ band car. He’s not slow in trying to capitalise on commercial opportunities.

The boys commented on the ‘awesome stereo’ and how it could be played extremely loudly without distorting the speakers. This from guys that blast music out at 150Dba, at least!

“How was the drive?” I enquired. Now remember, this is from a group of early 20-somethings, but the flood of praise was quite overwhelming.

“Brilliant, so easy to drive, bloody fantastic. The fuel gauge hardly moves, the cruise control is great, its got plenty of ‘power’, (mimicking Jeremy Clarkson’s voice), the heated seats are wicked and the headlights are amazingly bright”.

For the record and despite being loaded to the roof with heavy gear, the Santa Fe’s 2.2 litre turbo diesel engine sipped just 7.1 L/100km, which was considerably less than the Red Bulls consumed by the occupants en route.

While their arrival at the venue to set up, sound check and conduct a quick rehearsal was unseen, there were plenty of fans willing to help them pack up and load up at the end of the night. After flogging a bunch of signed CD’s, band merchandise and lots of autographs, they departed to shouting, whistling, clapping and air punching by those they had just entertained. It seems they won over the crowd, like the Santa Fe won them over.

Although no new songs were composed while travelling to and from the gig, unlike Deep Purple, who as history tells it, penned ‘Highway star’ in the back of a Transit van on the way to a show; maybe, just maybe, the Hyundai name has won a raft of young fans who now see Hyundai as being cool.

Rock on.

OUR CAR : 2015 HYUNDAI SANTA FE HIGHLANDER
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 329KM
PRICE : FROM: $53,240 (+ORC)
FUEL : 5.9L/100KM (TESTED); 7.3L/100KM (OFFICIAL)
SERVICE/FAULTS : NIL

29 MAY, 2015

Since it has been in my possession, I have grown very fond of our metallic silver-grey, Hyundai Santa Fe longer termer. And, over the past few months, I have handed over the reigns to SUV-owning friends of similar priced and some with more expensive offerings. All have been impressed by the Santa Fe’s on-road manners, (thanks to Hyundai’s Aussie suspension gurus who play with the suspension and tune it to better handle local road conditions), the power of the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine and the smoothness of the six-speed auto gearbox.

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe

We have thoroughly tested its people carrying capability, having loaded it with seven up (and shopping) on more than one occasion and even received compliments about its comfy ride and space in the third row. That said, the third-row is best left to short trips as there’s little foot room and headroom is tight for taller passengers. Three adult-sized teens appreciated the roominess of the second row and its range of fore and aft movement, giving them plenty of legroom on a long journey.

With the second- and third-row seats folded away its cavernous interior has garaged both mountain and road bikes, bbq’s, tents, chairs, eskys, hardware, guitars, amps, golf clubs and golf buggies, in fact it’s carried just about everything bar the kitchen sink.

It has wowed everyone with its hands-free park assist that moves the Highlander with pinpoint accuracy; its three stage cooled and heated front seats, heated, two-stage second row seats which are all extremely comfortable.

For me the Santa Fe has been a revelation. At the top of the list is the way it drives. The ride quality is sublime for a seven-seater and it takes all surfaces; hard or loose, in its stride. There’s plenty of suspension travel to soak up bumps, ruts and dips yet it still corners with a good dash of poise. One mate who owns a Territory claimed it was equal in its handling, although the steering is more engaging in the Territory. High praise indeed as the Ford is still considered one of the best handling SUV’s around.

Equally impressive is its fuel efficiency. My last trip to Avoca saw it achieve a respectable 6.9 L/100km as it happily cruised at 110km/h, but this week on a trip to the Mornington Peninsula, I bettered that, getting down to a jaw dropping 5.9L/100km.


 

OUR CAR : 2015 HYUNDAI SANTA FE HIGHLANDER
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 735KM
PRICE : FROM: $53,240 (+ORC)
FUEL : 6.9L/100KM (TESTED); 7.3L/100KM (OFFICIAL)
SERVICE/FAULTS : NIL

15 MAY, 2015

THIS WEEK SAW the Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Diesel cover over 700 kilometres as we headed to the central Victorian goldfields and wine hub township of Avoca.

Riding two up with the second row seat folded to accommodate our luggage and a mountain bike (with wheels on) we headed off, with our first stop being at the soon to be Melbourne outer suburb of Bacchus Marsh for some fresh fruit and a coffee.

Santa Fe long-termer

 

Returning to the car a couple were admiring the silver grey Santa Fe and asked us what we thought of it and how long we had had it. They were interested in buying one to tow their caravan around Australia.

So I told them how the previous model Santa Fe had taken out the several awards and this new 2015 model is another step forward again and now it comes with Lifetime Capped Price Servicing and 10-year Roadside Assist, which would give them great peace of mind on their big adventure.

The Santa Fe could tow a braked caravan up to 2500kgs or 750kg unbraked and it has a towball download limit of 100kgs so, if you stick to the 10% towball download rule than the Santa Fe is really limited to a braked towing limit of just 1000kg. They felt confident their smallish ‘van would not be a problem.

We told them about the excellent manners on and off road and briefly showed them Robert Pepper’s recent off-road adventures in the big Hyundai on my smartphone and recommended they take a read and see how well it coped off-piste.

I talked about the excellent fuel economy I get around town and on the open road from the 2.2 litre turbo diesel engine and a quick check at that time revealed we were averaging 6.9L/100km, which certainly impressed all of us.

I also mentioned the three-stage heated and cooled front seats that are extremely comfortable and supportive and will keep them in top shape on even the longest days behind the wheel in all weather conditions. I suggested they dissect Australia in half and push the button to illuminate the orange lights (heated) across the southern part of the country and then get the blue lights (cooling) operating up north to remain comfortable.

I invited them to climb aboard and take a look inside. Their comments included the seats certainly were comfortable, it looks very roomy and couldn’t believe all the gizmos that were in it. “Did you tick all the options mate?” I was asked. “Not one” I answered, everything you see, including the sat nav, is standard.

They asked what it was like on the road and I answered it was relaxing, with three steering levels to choose from, (Comfort, Normal and Sport) depending on how much muscle you want to use, the excellent all-round visibility and that it had front and rear sensors plus park assist, which never fails to impress those watching the Highlander do its stuff with pinpoint accuracy.

Then I demonstrated the self-opening electric tailgate and the amount of space available. Needless to say they continued to be impressed as we bid them farewell.

Back on the road we set the cruise control and effortlessly streamed our music via Bluetooth, enjoying our favourite tunes through the through six speakers, two-tweeter audio system that also has a sub woofer.

We visited many local attraction around Avoca with wild weather our companion, hail one minute, sunshine the next. We travelled along main arteries and graveled back roads and I got to test the hill hold assist on a vey steep gravel track. Stopping the car, I engaged the button on the console and took my foot off the brake pedal. We moved forward in our seats due to the steepness of the hill but the Hyundai didn’t move a millimeter. Three more tries on even steeper hills left me impressed and showed how well Hyundai’s local engineering crew have fine tuned the Santa Fe Highlander Diesel to suit our local conditions.


 

OUR CAR : 2015 HYUNDAI SANTA FE HIGHLANDER
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 261km
PRICE : FROM: $53,240 (+ORC)
FUEL : 11.1L/100KM (TESTED); 7.3L/100KM (OFFICIAL)
SERVICE/FAULTS : NIL

8 may, 2015

THE HYUNDAI SANTA FE Highlander Diesel has returned ship-shape from its off-roading boot camp weekend in the hands of fellow scribe Robert Pepper.

A testimony to the excellent build quality of the Santa Fe was that after a weekend away on rock strewn gravel roads, dropping in and out of ruts and potholes, clambering up and down slippery slopes, traversing and the like, it arrived back as it left; no squeaks, rattles, clunks or thumps.

A quick inspection inside the wheel arches showed the depth of some of the creeks must have Robert and his family must have crossed, very impressive indeed.

Robert certainly demonstrated the off-roading capability of the big Hyundai on a particularly cold and miserable weekend, (that did make for good pics though).Despite Robert giving it a tank of diesel and a good clean, on closer inspection I discovered that mud had accumulated on the lower inner edge of the doors, which I let dry before removing. A bit of a trap for young players there…

As soon as it was back in my hands it was immediately pressed into the cut and thrust of Melbourne rush hour, going from meeting to meeting and several across town jaunts on several occasions. Despite this the Highlander returned an impressive 7.8L/100km for the week.

This week also saw the Santa Fe Highlander click over 10,000 kilomteres.

And whether it was the workout in the bush or the passing of distance, the Santa-Fe feels like its freed up, the 2.2-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder engine revving easier than ever.

We didn’t get an autumn in Melbourne this year, balmy weather made way for an artic blast as you saw in Robert’s story last week with him finding snow on his weekend in the bush. The big chill lasted several days and gave me the opportunity to check out the efficiency of another one of the long list of standard features in the Santa-Fe Highlander; the three-stage fan-fed, heated and cooled seats.

Over the summer the seat coolers worked a treat. As just about every Aussie would know, hot leather on bare legs is not a good combination, but with a push of the button located on the console, the seats rapidly cooled to a comfy level in no time. So well do the coolers work I cut back on using the air con, which saved a few sheckles as well.

I am not a fan of turning on heating in cars. By and large the interior becomes stuffy and unpleasant, which is why I like option of heated seats; cool air and warm body, perfect. Heated seats have also been pressed into service on occasion to settle an aching back.

With the temperature hovering just above zero, I jumped in and pushed the button that automatically defaults to level three – the highest setting. In no time I was warm and toasty and enjoying the driving dynamics of the Santa Fe.

In most cars, like aircraft, such privileges are only reserved for those up in the front pews.

But in the Santa Fe Highlander, the comfortable second row 60/40 split-fold seat not only has excellent fore and aft range, to accommodate the tallest of passengers, they also enjoy the benefit of heated seats. Two stage heated seats in fact.

Winter isn’t looking anywhere near as bleak now, thank you Hyundai.


 

OUR CAR : 2015 HYUNDAI SANTA FE HIGHLANDER
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 500km
PRICE : FROM: $53,240 (+ORC)
FUEL : 11.1L/100KM (TESTED); 7.3L/100KM (OFFICIAL)
SERVICE/FAULTS : NIL

19 april, 2015

Update by Robert Pepper
SANTA FE GOES offroad!  Yes, m’colleague Higgins has handed me the keys to his beloved Santa Fe long-termer, so we bundled the family in and took off on a weekend’s 4WD trip run by one of the local clubs.  
 
We’re no strangers to the Santa Fe, having run the previous model on long-term test when it saw action in hills, mud and sand – even memoraby recovering a mighty Nissan Patrol!  More details will follow later, but let’s say for now a good thing has got a lot better.  The onroad handling is a notch up, there’s lots of little design features that make the Santa Fe a very capable 7-seater that should be on anyone’s shortlist.  The list of niggles is not long and there’s nothing major, but it is disappointing to record that the current model seems to less offroad capability than the previous.  Still, it’s not designed as real offroader, even though it certainly managed the weekend’s activites which as you see ramped up the fuel consumption – a load of four people plus gear moving slowly through forests will do that.
 
We’ve put a blog post up on the offroad performance, and a full write-up will follow shortly. 
IMG_5149
Can you spot the odd one out?

 


 

OUR CAR : 2015 HYUNDAI SANTA FE HIGHLANDER
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 197km
PRICE : FROM: $53,240 (+ORC)
FUEL : 8.3L/100KM (TESTED); 7.3L/100KM (OFFICIAL)
SERVICE/FAULTS : NIL

03 april, 2015

The Santa Fe Highlander put in a week showing its versatile side, (isn’t that what SUV’s are for?) undertaking more urban duties, carting people and shopping about, venturing into the nearby hills and down to the beach with a mountain bike nestled in the back. Although it was another week spent mainly in the ‘burbs, fuel economy was 8.2L/100km average for the week.

There 2015 Santa Fe Highlander is brimming with technology, some of it carryover form the previous model and some of it new, and extremely convenient, like the smart tailgate with hands free operation. You stand at the rear of the Santa Fe and the sensor in the keyfob engages with the car and automatically opens the tailgate, which is very handy when you arrive at the car with your hands full and keys in your pocket or bag (we have a video of this but technical problems have prevented us from posting it today, it’ll be online ASAP-Ed).

The luggage area is impressively large and equally useful in shape. Placing the luggage cover in its cubby just inside the boot area and folding the third row seats into the floor, gives the Santa Fe a substantial 516 litres of cargo area.

Folding down the second row 60/40 leather trimmed split bench seat, is as simple as a flick of a lever conveniently located just inside the tailgate as well as from levers on the outside edge of the seats.

Once folded, the cargo area expands to a useful 1615 litres and easily able to accommodate a mountain bike, complete with its wheels on. What’s more, the low load height makes it easy to place objects in the back, without excess lifting.

But lets get back to the technology features of the Santa Fe Highlander, which certainly take a great deal of stress and potential dangers out of driving.

The Lane Departure Warning System is helpful if you start to veer out of your lane as it alerts you with an audio cue and a visual warning in the multifunction display in the instrument panel.

Squeezing through tight spots and reversing are a breeze with sensors mounted on the front and rear as well as on each corner to warn you of any hazards and they have different sounds to you know which end of the vehicle is getting a bit tight for space. Additionally, the seven-inch central dash mounted screen features a reversing camera with grid lines that clearly show the path the vehicle is going to take.

To me the most clever (and a little daunting) piece of technology in the Santa Fe Highlander is the Smart Assist Parking System (SPAS) that uses ultrasonic wave sensors to measure an available parking space.

Once engaged, by pushing the button on the console, the system automatically controls the steering wheel when the vehicle is in reverse gear. It will park the car in places you first thought impossible and it takes the guesswork and the potential damage out of parking. In the video demonstration, there was only one parked car, but it gives you an idea of how it works. The sensors detect obstacles at the front and rear of the vehicle and calculate the optimal parking distance from the curb, the car in front and the car behind. It is clever and it does work, the biggest hurdle is sitting back with your hands off the wheel and allowing the car to do its thing (Again, we’ll be posting a video of this in action very shortly, too-Ed).

And the Santa Fe’s technology has assisted in the most basic ways. Through the VCU, or in English – the car’s computer, vehicle’s operating status is instantly available and displayed on the multi information display between the speedo and tacho.

One morning an orange triangular warning light appeared on the dash and a quick scan of the gauges revealed all was okay. Next stop was the vehicle settings menu and it revealed the level of the washer bottle was running low.

The level of technology and systems in the Santa Fe, like the car itself continue to impress and while some might argue that all this technology takes away from ‘driving’ the car, that certainly hasn’t been the case with me and all have been of great benefit.


 

OUR CAR : 2015 HYUNDAI SANTA FE HIGHLANDER
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 235Km
PRICE : FROM: $53,240 (+ORC)
FUEL : 9.0L/100KM (TESTED); 7.3L/100KM (OFFICIAL)
SERVICE/FAULTS : NIL

20 March, 2015

EVERY SINGLE ONE of the 235km travelled in the Santa Fe this week were in the urban jungle. A lot of it was spent in the very heavy stop-start traffic around the Grand Prix at Albert Park and Hyundai-sponsored World Cup Cricket at the MCG, which is why the fuel average increased this week, but overall it still returned a respectable 9.0L/100km.

Over the past two weeks the big Hyundai has been to and acted as a packhorse at the Phillip Island motorsport historics, got covered in red dust filled raindrops as a cool change swept through Melbourne, and endured the dusty grass car parks of the Grand Prix and the MCG. Needless to say, the Highlander was in need of a good tub from top to bottom, inside and out. Instead of taking it through a carwash, I elected to do the job myself.

Out with the sponge and bucket, vacuum cleaner, window clean, rags, tyre shine and Armor All. It also gave me time to take a closer inspection of the car that I have quickly grown very fond of.

Many of us look at this sized vehicle believing it will take an eternity to clean and opt for the carwash. However from the moment the floor mats were removed, to the first splash of water on the duco and the final wipe of the chamois was about 45 minutes. That included wiping all the door openings and the inside of the powered tailgate. On completion, I stood back and admired the lustrous silver grey paintwork glistening in the afternoon sunlight.

Hyundai Santa Fe long-termer being cleaned

The Santa Fe was penned in Hyundai’s German design studio based in Russelsheim, the home of GM brand Opel. Designing this and several other models at this location signaled Hyundai’s intention to tackle the European markets.

Beginning with a clean slate, Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture philosophy saw its designers use nature as their inspiration. The idea is that nature only has curves and no sharp angles, so the emphasis is on organic shapes and flowing lines, which in turn make the cars more aerodynamic, graceful and pleasing on the eye.

The first Hyundai created under the Fluidic Sculpture was the ix35 compact SUV in 2010 and since then all the passenger cars have continued under this philosophy.

For the 2015 model, the Santa Fe wears an attractive dark chrome three-bar grille, complete with the Hyundai logo. Large, piercing, high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps with its own washer system & auto-leveling function. The aero shaped lights sweep well back into the front guards. Also new up front, are the daytime running lights and cornering lights. The entire lower body features a dark-grey plastic protection strip to give it a touch of ruggedness, emphasis on the ‘touch’…

The five twin-spoke, nineteen-inch polished alloy wheels with dark grey inserts, a new design for the 2015 Highlander, look classy and their narrow slits make cleaning a bit of a chore, but the result is worth it.

The Highlander’s profile has an attractive sculpture to it. Running between the wheel arches is a distinctive lower bodyline and along its full length is a high hip line that kicks up at the rear quarter panel. Dark chrome door handles, a large glass area sweeping upwards towards the rear and privacy tinting, along with the small porthole windows in the rear pillars give it a real Euro look. The rear features the Hands-free Smart Tailgate, discreet roof spoiler with high level brake light, large rear window, rectangular tail lamps and twin exhausts.

Friends and neighbours have commented on the Highlander parked in the driveway. ‘Very luxurious’ is often said, and ‘bet it’s expensive’ has been heard, until I tell them the price, $53,290. ‘They’ve (Hyundai) come a long way in a short time from those Excel days’ has also been mentioned by a few, but the most telling comment came from a neighbor who works in the industry, selling a prestige European brand. ‘It won’t be long before these guys become a thorn in our side. They’ve got the look now, I hear they drive pretty well and come with all the goodies as standard. For what you get for the money, ($53,240 +ORC), it’s a bit of a bargain’. My sentiments exactly.

 


 

OUR CAR : 2015 HYUNDAI SANTA FE HIGHLANDER
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 368KM
PRICE : FROM: $53,240 (+ORC)
FUEL : 7.1L/100KM (TESTED); 7.3L/100KM (OFFICIAL)
SERVICE/FAULTS : NIL

13 March, 2015

MY MATES AND I made our annual pilgrimage to the big historic car race meeting at Phillip Island last weekend and this gave me a chance to see how easily we could fill the Santa Fe’s cargo area, which varies from 516 litres to 1615 litres, depending on seating configurations.

For us, attending this meeting is a lot more than just turning up to ogle famous Australian and international racing machinery and their equally famous drivers. It’s the must attend race meeting of the year where we make a full day of it and set up our own hospitality area, this year dubbed ‘Chez Santa Fe’.

An early start was required so at O’ Dark Hundred I arrived at the gathering point and stood at the back of the big Hyundai while the large tailgate automatically opened, thanks to the sensor in the proximity key.

The third row of seats were already folded neatly into the floor, but we popped down the 60 split side of the 60/40 split, second-row seat and commenced loading. My mate is a Tetris expert and we figured it would take a lot of skill to somehow fit all our gear into the back. This included, two tables, four chairs, a three-burner bbq, large gas bottle, a couple of eskys, enough food for breakfast lunch, grazing and guests, a variety of drinks and a pop up shelter, ropes, weights and tent pegs.

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe long-term review

Well, I am happy to report that not only did the Santa Fe swallow it all up with ease; there was enough room to carry four passengers, if we had to.

As it was, it effortlessly transported three of us in quiet air-conditioned comfort as we talked and played a variety of songs through the crystal clear six-speaker, two-tweeter, sub woofered audio system.

On this occasion I didn’t drive, but handed the keys to my pal who is a veteran SUV pilot of over 15 years to get his thoughts on our long termer.

After twiddling the electric adjustment switches to get himself a comfy driving position, we were off and his first comment came almost straight away. “There’s no flat spot or turbo lag down low”, followed by “it’s bloody quiet”.

Moving onto the freeway I encouraged him to give it a bootful, “Bloody good pick up” he said with a grin.

Driving down the freeway allowed him to experience the Lane Departure Warning system, which activates a warning light and alarm if you wander out of your lane. He thought it an excellent safety feature and commented, “it’s a perfect companion on a long, lonely drive on a freeway”. As a sales rep, he does a lot of long lonely drives across the country.

We peeled off the freeway and headed down some back roads, including one that was dug up ready for repair. Expecting a barrage of gravel bullets underneath we looked at each other at how pleasantly quiet it was and thought to ourselves, there is clearly some serious underbody sound deadning used.

The road was rough and rutted but the ride remained totally composed and impressed the new driver and passengers. “Mine doesn’t ride anywhere near as well as this, full or empty” he commented.

Being a cold start to the day, we gave the three stage fan-fed seat heaters and coolers a go. They worked a treat in warming us up in the early morning and providing a cooling trip home.

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe long-term review

Parking was a bit tight at one section of the track and although we didn’t get to sample the Park Assist system, the front and rear parking sensors, along with the reversing/parking camera made squeezing into a tight spot absolute child’s play.

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe long-term review

We decided to re pack using the 40 split down leaving the 60 split for our passenger’s comfort. And once again, the Santa Fe still had plenty of luggage room to spare.

The round trip was just over 300 kilometres and the Santa Fe averaged an impressive 7.1 L/100km with three up and all our gear. And the big Hyundai found a new friend with my mate declaring the Santa Fe delivered a great ride, plenty of oomph, good handling, excellent all round visibility, comfortable supportive seats and loads of goodies for not a lot of coin.


 

OUR CAR: 2015 HYUNDAI SANTA FE HIGHLANDER

DISTANCE TRAVELLED this week: 187KM

PRICE: FROM: $53,240 (+ORC)

FUEL: 9.8L/100KM (TESTED); 7.8L/100KM (OFFICIAL)

SERVICE/FAULTS: NIL

WEEK ENDING: MARCH 6TH, 2015

THIS WEEK SAW me struggling to get near the Santa Fe with my two younglings squabbling over the keys, who used it last and who had and hadn’t fueled it. 

I did manage to pinch it for a while though and once again was impressed by its capability as a beaut multi-tasking, family all-rounder. Sold build quality, pleasing road manners, quiet, spacious, economical and comfortable. There’s not a lot more you could ask for to be honest, especially at this price. 

Pulling up at the diesel bowser, (yes, guess who got left with an empty tank!), I opened the glovebox. 

Why the glovebox? To avail myself of another of Hyundai’s attention to detail; the box of disposable gloves provided, so my hands didn’t stink of diesel or get all slimy. 

Anyway, as this is a long-term test and we use the cars as if they were our own, as I was filling the 64 litre tank I started thinking about the cost of owning, running and servicing the Santa Fe, so this week, for something different but equally important, we will review the warranty package offered. 

Since taking the wheel of the Santa Fe Highlander, we’ve discovered its (145kW/436Nm) 2.2-litre turbo-diesel is sufficiently powerful and quite economical around town, this week averaging 9.8L/100km, as well as being a fuel miser on the open road. 

The pump price isn’t subject to wild fluctuations, remaining steady and presently sits around $1.20 per litre. So, a full tank a week will cost around $75 or $3900 for a year.

Registration is where the government gets to raid your purse to the tune of $800 in Victoria. However, comprehensive insurance was a pleasant surprise at just tad over $700. So far, that’s $5400 for fuel, registration and comprehensive insurance, no meerkat impressions please.

Hyundai’s multi level ownership plan is called i-Care and is one of the best in the business. 

First up is the warranty, which is five years and/or unlimited kilometres.

Recently Hyundai introduced Lifetime Capped Price Servicing across its model range, so you know what costs you are up and can budget accordingly. In the case of the Santa Fe Highlander Diesel Auto, that means every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres, with the first service a freebie at 1500km. 

According to the servicing price chart found on Hyundai’s website, the first service at the end of year one is just $379 and seven years or 105,000km of motoring will cost you $2,800 in scheduled servicing. 

Five years, which is a more common time for people to trade in is $2,015 for 75,000km.

Roadside assist is virtually a must have these days and the Hyundai range gets 10 years worth of 24/7 assistance, but you have to have it serviced at a Hyundai dealership to get this benefit. Otherwise, only the first year is complimentary. 

As our capital cities continue to rapidly grow, maps soon become outdated which Hyundai has recognised, and have included, at no charge, a 3 year map plan, which gives you three years of map updates.

So, the big seven-seater Hyundai has worked its way into our hearts for all the reasons we said at the start and for those who buy with their heads and watch every dollar, its cost of ownership is equally impressive. 


 

OUR CAR : 2015 HYUNDAI SANTA FE HIGHLANDER
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 235KM
PRICE : FROM $53,240 (+ORC)
FUEL: 9.4.L/100KM (TESTED); 7.8L/100KM (OFFICIAL)
SERVICE/FAULTS : NIL
WEEK ENDING : FEBRUARY 27, 2015

THIS WEEK SAW the Santa Fe spend its time in the city and the ‘burbs, but while it naturally drank a bit more fuel than last week and didn’t travel as far as last week, it continued to impress and deliver comfortable, fuss-free motoring.

Since the Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander has been in my possession, many people have asked what it is like and am I enjoying it? The short answers to those questions are; it is very competent, versatile, comfortable and hasn’t failed to impress. And yes, I am enjoying my time with it very much.

A couple of mates are looking at trading in their SUV’s and neither had taken a close look at the stylish Korean seven-seater. After they both took it for an extended test-drive, I reckon the Hyundai Santa Fe order bank will see a couple of additions.

Like me, they have been impressed by its refinement, quality and attention to detail. The on-road performance is pleasantly eye opening.

The 2.4 litre turbo diesel is economical and powerful; the six-speed auto transmission (with manual mode) delivers seamless changes and its road manners a constant positive.

Both like the versatile, spacious cabin layout and all the goodies you get for your money. The three-stage, fan cooled front seats, a perfect example.

One has a boat so was concerned about approach and departure angles, but with angles of 16.9-degrees and 21.5-degrees, respectively, that concern disappeared. Its towing capacity is 2000kg braked, but it’s 100kg tow ball downforce limit may be a deal breaker, we shall see.

On my visits to my local service station, (it’s always on empty when I get behind the wheel, but near full when I get out, hmmm) They still have driveway service [where do you live, Mark? 1980? – Ed] and the owner enjoys a good chinwag about whatever I’m driving. Having a quick look under the bonnet seemed to tick the boxes in his eyes and he told me that the Hyundai’s he looks after never need much more than a routine service.

So far so good then.

While I have spent most of my time cossetted in the comfy, supportive 8-way electric adjustable drivers seat, with two memory settings and previously mentioned heating and cooling fan, I have also ventured into the second row.

Although it’s a 60:40 split-fold bench seat affair, it is equally comfortable and as it seems to sit slightly higher than the front pews, forward vision is quite good. It can recline and travel fore and aft, offers plenty of legroom. One mate is 6’8” in the old money and even he felt comfortable. The aircon vents, mounted neatly in the B-pillars, work exceptionally well as do the two-stage seat warmers.

Adding to the spacious feel is the panoramic sunroof. Thanks to the well sorted, Australian engineered and tuned suspension, that does a great job of ironing out the ruts, bumps and dips on out roads, the ride in the back was on par with those up front.

We also took the Santa Fe on one of the most taxing driving adventures possible. A trip to the local shopping mall, with a huge car park full of drivers playing dodgem cars, nearest the pin parking, untamed children racing about, out of control shopping trolleys and minuscule parking slots.

Immediately the Santa Fe felt at right at home. I selected the ‘Comfort’ steering setting to lighten up the effort needed to twirl the wheel. Armed with parking sensors front and rear along with a wide-angle lens on the reversing/parking camera, we found a spot. Arriving back at the Highlander, allowed me to show off another (and one of my favourite) party pieces.

Standing at the rear with my arms full and the key in my pocket, I waited just a moment before the Bluetooth sensor in the key and car connected, then the mirrors unfolded, the lights flashed and the electric tailgate popped up like magic. After throwing the weeks fodder into the back, I pushed the button and the tailgate closed automatically.

My partner asked why a vehicle of this price didn’t have a cargo blind, as she hadn’t noticed it in the back. And here’s another example of Hyundai’s clever thinking. The blind has its own storage area in the floor, under a lid near the tailgate, for easy access.


 

Our Car : 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander

Distance travelled : 438KM

Price : From $53,240 (+ORC)

Fuel : 6.8L/100km (tested); 7.8L/100KM (official)

February 20, 2015

IT WAS ANOTHER BUSY WEEK for our newest team member with an expedition to southern Victoria and a cabin full of friends and luggage. The cases, bags, food and refreshments easily fitted into the spacious rear luggage area with plenty of room to spare.

Using freeways to drive the 140 odd kilometre distance required nothing more than setting the cruise control and enjoying the ride in the comfortable, supportive leather clad seats, that have three-stage heating and cooling built in and two memory settings for the driver’s.

The second row dwellers were delighted with the comfort of the reclining pews and the amount of legroom with the seat base in its most aft position. They also had and their own air con vents neatly tucked into the B-pillars and to keep the sun out, they used the retractable side window blinds.

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander long-termer update

With three steering settings available, I tried each on the journey. Normal was relatively light but delivered some feedback.
Comfort was the lightest of all and proved ideal for squeezing the Santa Fe into the tightest of parking spots with the aid of the standard crystal clear reversing camera, front and back sensors plus the self-park system. However, Sport was the mode of choice as it provided good feedback and weighted up the wheel effort to suit me best.

After a short time, the consensus was the Santa Fe Highlander was impressively quiet with little road, wind or tyre noise, allowing conversation at normal levels, the attention to detail and quality was first class, the stereo system, like the sat nav, was excellent and it overall it represented great value.

We noted the smooth and comfortable ride, the way it easily dealt with surface blemishes and its composure through corners for a high riding seven-seater, which we put down to the Aussie suspension specialists, brought in by Hyundai to make it work on our ‘unique’ roads.

The other thing was the lack of fuel gauge movement and cruising along the freeway saw the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder drink as little as 6.1L/100km on average.

After popping the cork on a fine red, we walked around the big Hyundai and comments about its looks included integrated, stylish, classy, expensive, seamless, flowing and all-round agreement on it being a rather handsome beast.

After a weekend away and another easy run up the freeway, the Santa Fe joined the weekly rush hour. The standard lane-keeping system and the excellent all-round visibility made the short traffic-filled trips a breeze and as expected, fuel consumption lifted to around 8.8L/100km. Another feature I like is at the end of each trip you get snap shot readout of elapsed time, fuel consumption, average speed etc. I found myself trying to beat the figures on each subsequent trip.

There is still so much I to learn about all the gizmos the Santa Fe has and so far it’s impressed everyone who has driven or ridden in it. A friend took it for a short drive and was so impressed she is now considering buying one. She told me her Hyundai driving friend receives wonderful service from their local dealer.

Pairing the phone and streaming music; so vital these days, is a cinch and the audio belts out a quality sound across a range of genres of music.

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander long-termer update

One short trip was with seven adults, making use of all three rows. Although it was a tight squeeze in the back, getting in and out proved a great source of amusement for everyone and it was quickly decided unless you were extremely flexible, its best left to those under 15.

Being on the peninsula, the interior soon resembled the beach but such is the carpet fabric, the yellow granules easily came up with a quick vac at the car wash, to return the cabin to a pristine state.

OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 629KM
PRICE : FROM $53,240 (+ORC)
THIRST : 7.3L/100KM (Tested) ; 7.8L/100km (Official)

FEBRUARY 14, 2015

Since I took possession of the 2015 Hyundai Santa-Fe Highlander last week, resplendent in dark grey with its 19-inch alloy wheels, it hasn’t had a moments relaxation. It arrived having just ticked over 5000 kilometres, giving the 2.2-litre turbo diesel a chance to loosen up a bit.

No sooner had it graced the family forecourt, than it was immediately pressed into service with short journeys to the office, a grocery shopping expedition and a girl’s night out. The younger Higgins’, Marque’s 1 & 2 have also spent time behind the wheel and it has undertaken its first proper trip, a mostly freeway jaunt to the Mornington Peninsula to take in the Herald Sun cycling tour. And it has even tasted a gravel road or two around Arthurs Seat.

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander review long-term

Why did we choose a Hyundai Santa Fe? Well, it’s Hyundai’s family SUV offering and helped power the brand to over 100,000 sales in 2014. Up until the arrival of the Genesis, it was the first model in the range to break through the $50k barrier, which was a real test for the brand. That 100 more Santa Fe’s were sold in January this year compared to last attests its ongoing popularity.

These days I rarely have a need for a seven-seater, but I certainly appreciated having one with a growing family where it had to multi task with school runs, school sports, carting Marque’s 1 & 2 around with their mates, family holidays, visits to the vet, shopping centre expeditions, and even ferrying friends, parents, and in-laws about.

While we still have new-car eyes on, how does the Santa-Fe Highlander stack up after its first week? Well…..it has impressed with its comfort, style and road manners.

On the horizon for the Santa Fe are a family reunion, race meetings to visit, several trips to Bunnings and Shopping malls, dinner engagements, footy matches to attend, short and long trips with friends, a spot of off roading, serving as a transporter for guitars, amps, etc. with Marque 2’s band, and maybe even a bit of camping. Real-world stuff.

The Santa Fe nameplate has been around a lot longer than most realise, with the first iteration gracing our shores just after the turn of the 21st century. Back then it was more of a compact SUV, taking on rivals such as Honda’s CR-V and Toyota’s RAV-4. Like so many vehicles, it has grown with each generation and now rubs shoulders in the mid-school carpark with the Ford’s Territory, Holden’s Captiva, Toyota twins, Kluger and Prado, Jeep Grand Cherokee and even Editor Bobber’s Mitsubishi Pajero long termer.

It looks more expensive than it is. An ML Mercedes owning friend was impressed with its appearance and noted, it didn’t look much different to his. Designed on Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture mantra, the 2015 upgrade included a darker chrome grille, Daytime Running and cornering Lights as well as 19-inch alloy wheels, plus a full size spare.

Under the bonnet of the Highlander is a 2.2 litre Common Rail Turbo Diesel that punches out 145kW and 436Nm. It’s coupled to a sweet shifting, six-speed automatic with electronic sequential manual mode, that is the only choice of transmission.

Fuel consumption is a claimed 7.3L/100km (combined) and so far, we are getting close to that figure (7.8L/100km) despite predominantly urban motoring.

On the road the Highlander impresses, the Australian tuned suspension ensures a somewhat firm (for an SUV) yet comfortable ride and the three steering modes available (normal-comfort-sport) ensures there’s enough feedback for all tastes and situations.

Our Highlander is lavishly equipped with plenty of creature comforts and gizmos. Included as standard are leather trim, sat-nav, 19-inch alloys, sunroof, lane keeping monitors, parking sensors front and rear, lane departure warning, self parking, powered tailgate and keyless entry.

Throw in Hyundai’s five year unlimited kilometre warranty, lifetime capped price servicing and 10-years free Roadside Assistance and it all adds up to a strong value package.

Follow our ‘ownership’ journey in the coming weeks. And, if you own one, drop us an email or leave a comment and let us know what you think of it.

  • Ken

    Oh how I wish this thing had a slightly greater towing capacity! More or less the same size as my diesel Territory and with about the same power and torque but only 2000kgs vs 2700kgs towing capacity. Bump it up to 2500kgs Hyundai and I’ll buy one tomorrow! Love it, almost..

    • Absolute shame. Hyundai used to offer a towing package, but that still wouldn’t be enough to bump it up to Territory spec.

  • Neil Watson

    You really needed to switch the steering to comfort mode for shopping centre parking? Did you only want to use one finger to steer?

  • Stuart

    Hi I have a 2014 Santa Fe and for the first few months it was excellent . I have the electronic park brake which has now failed 4 times. It gets to a certain point and it wont release in reverse, then it will short the fuse locking all wheels. Change the fuse and its OK for a few days then blows again. It is currently with the dealer who is talking with Hyundai Korea as just replacing the cable hasnt worked. The service manager called today to say he now has 4 other Santa Fes in with a similar problem, although mine is the more baffling. I am now waiting on a modified part which is on backorder, and may be without a car for another week. For a $50k plus car Im not impressed at all, Have you heard of anything and what would you recommend I do cheers

    • Hi Stuart. No direct experience with this problem, but issues of this nature with electric parkbrakes are not unusual.

      There is often a manual override, as in DIscovery and Pajero Sport. Check to see if there is one for the Santa Fe, ask the service manager to check as not all techs are aware of such things. These pakrbrakes are prone to dust and dirt buildup which causes these problems; the solution there is a thorough disassembly and clean, which is usually a fiddly, messy and time consuming job. Ask if that’s been done. Finally, don’t use the auto release function, operate it manually. Let us know how you go.

    • Hi Stuart, I’ve contacted Hyundai to discuss this issue, especially because you’ve said there are other cars being looked at for the same issue. Robert’s right about these systems.
      I’ll let you know what I hear back. – Isaac

  • Stuart

    Hi Robert there is no manual override system for the parking brake, the first time it happened the only solution Hyundai could come up with was to cut the power brakes so it could be towed away. The only solution I was given was to press down three times on the button and that usually releases it, of course it didnt. As to cleaning I had a major service done before we went up north and within a week the hand brake failed again. Finally there is no manual system to use in the Santa Fe,the only solution is not to use it at all and keep it in park gear. To date the car has been off the road for a total of 4 weeks.

  • Stuart

    Well the latest is that after chasing Hyundai for over a week I finally got onto someone who said my new modified part has been approved !!!! So after 3 weeks (without any offer or support with a courtesy car) I may get my car back again. Lets hope the problem is fixed. I doubt I will ever buy another Hyundai.

  • Stuart

    Another update , Hyundai keep sending the wrong part so they have finally approved a loan car nearly 3 weeks after I dropped the car in !!! Still no idea yet as to when my car will be ready and hopefully fixed

    • Glad they’ve finally come through with a loan vehicle. The old “the wrong part” trick… sounds like stalling? – Isaac

  • Stuart

    Yes it must be some part because the loan car is booked till the 4th March !!!

  • Nick

    Have had a 2013 highlander for maybe 6 months now.

Mark Higgins

Mark Higgins