By Samuel Smith
Last updated on: November 15, 2019 at 2:30 am
A perfect all-rounder for buyers who need the flexibility of a 7-seater, but also appreciate an engaging drive experience, Hyundai's Santa Fe has won best in its category.
Winner: Hyundai Santa Fe
Engine: 2.2 litre turbo-diesel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
ANCAP Safety Rating: 5 stars
Second place went to the Kia Sorrento GT-Line and the Volvo XC40 T4 Inscription placed third.
What sets it apart from the rest
The fourth-generation Santa Fe – introduced in July 2018 – built on the positives of its popular predecessor, with larger dimensions in almost all areas, a notable lift in interior space and comfort, and more safety tech.
The Santa Fe has soft-touch materials on the dash and doors and interesting design elements throughout. It provides a feeling that this is a much more premium vehicle than its price-tag suggests.
Safety wise, the Santa Fe was awarded a 5 star ANCAP crash rating in 2018, and the Highlander has the full suite of Hyundai SmartSense active safety gear that includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, safe exit assist to mitigate against dooring, and active cruise control with stop and go.
- Impressive safety tech
- A modern, cutting-edge design
- Loads of interior space
- Smooth-shifting, 8-speed automatic transmission
- 14-way seat adjustment (including a cushion extension)
- A dynamically engaging all-wheel-drive system
What it’s like to drive
The Santa Fe coped with nasty corrugations surprisingly well and its all-wheel-drive system proved effective on a decent stretch of unsealed road during testing, but its off-road ability is limited in ground clearance. Hyundai’s Australian engineers tuned the suspension setup for local conditions and it makes for a dynamically engaging drive experience through twisty roads, something not a lot of large family SUVs can manage.
Combined with the torquey diesel and nicely weighted steering, the Santa Fe has one of the best drive experiences of any large SUV on the market right now – regardless of badge.
How the finalists compared (scores for each category from 1-10)
|AWD SUVs $55,000-$70,000||Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander||Kia Sorrento GT-Line||Volvo XC40 T4 Inscription|
|Cost of depreciation ($)||4||6||7|
|Running & repair costs||6||6||2|
|Warranty & dealer access||8||9||2|
|Build & finish quality||7||7||8|
|Smoothness & quietness||7||7||8|
|Off road ability||6||6||5|
Images: Mark Rogers, Magnum Photography Australia