Second-gen SUV is roomier and more refined



The most eye-catching difference with the latest Hyundai Santa Fe is that it’s cleaner and more integrated than its predecessor.


Hyundai did well with its original Santa Fe, selling more than 52,000 since it first appeared. The looks took some getting used to, but the styling was refreshed in ’05, giving it more acceptable mainstream lines.

The most eye-catching difference with the latest version is that it’s cleaner, more integrated, especially at the rear with Lexus-like contours and canted, wraparound lamp clusters. Up front a twin-bar grille sits above a nicely flowing front fascia housing slick-looking headlamps and sweeping round to big wheel arches filled with new 18-inch alloy rollers.

The new Santa Fe is also noticeably bigger. Its wheelbase is 80 mm (3.1 in.) longer than before and its also 175 mm (6.8 in.) longer than its predecessor. Overall width and height have grown too, by 45 mm (1.7 in.) and 65 mm (2.6 in.) respectively.

The Santa Fe offers a set of fold-flat, third row seats in the GL Premium and GLS trim levels.

As you’d expect, these increased dimensions translate into a roomier, more accommodating interior. Move inside and the fits, finishes and materials are almost Audi-like in their impression of luxury and build quality. Blue lighting for all gauges, switches and buttons adds a modern high-tech look that’s also easy on the eyes. Seating is comfortable, well cushioned and feels good — especially the optional leather covering in the GLS Premium version we spent most of our time in. Even the base Santa Fe’s cloth trim looks attractive and durable.

Still with seats, the new Santa Fe is au courant in offering a set of fold-flat, third-row seats in the upscale GL Premium and GLS trim levels. But they’re best reserved for small kids. A better bet is the five-seat layout, affording more cargo room and a useful under-floor storage compartment. Total cargo volume behind the front seats is a cavernous 2,213 litres.

Hyundai is offering an upgraded version of the old model’s 2.7-litre V6 as the base powerplant. With 185 horsepower, it delivers 12 more horsepower and extra torque while offering increased fuel economy.

Pricing starts at $25,995 — a $4,000 jump from the ‘06 entry-level model. But that includes a whack of extra standard equipment, including six airbags, electronic stability control with traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and more.

Opting for a 4-speed automatic instead of the standard 5-speed manual transmission hikes the sticker to $27,295. Step up to the GL with its standard 3.3-litre, 242 hp V6 and it’s $28,295 while all-wheel-drive provides added grip and security for $30,095. The GL Premium adds a 5-speed automatic, 18-inch alloy wheels, more creature comforts and seven-passenger seating to justify its $31,295 price while the top-grade GLS costs $35,995.

This is a value-packed competitor in a crowded SUV market, underscored by significant improvements in capacity, capability, comfort and cost.

‘07 Hyundai Santa Fe

  • Type: Mid-size 5/7-passenger SUV

  • Price: $25,995

  • Engine: 2.7-litre V6 DOHC

  • Horsepower: 185 @ 6000 rpm

  • Torque (lb-ft): 183 @ 4000 rpm

  • Highlights: Roomier interior, available 7-passenger seating, interior ambience, expanded standard equipment list.