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Korean SUV takes another step forward

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Mark Holgate is the driving force behind Exhaust Notes Australia, one of this country's premier automotive websites, with in excess of 1 million visits every year, and literally hundreds of car reviews and motoring stories.

With more than 20 years experience as a journalist, and five years as a professional blogger, he brings a wealth of knowledge about cars, bikes and everything in between.

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IT represents Korean car maker Hyundai’s bench mark in SUV options. A big seven-seat model with a decent towing capacity and a great look and feel.

IT represents Korean car maker Hyundai’s bench mark in SUV options. A big seven-seat model with a decent towing capacity and a great look and feel. The 2018 edition of the Santa Fe has arrived, and is yet another step forward.

Big leap forward for new Santa Fe.

Big leap forward for new Santa Fe

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Active X is a joy to drive. It’s functional, practical, good looking and powerful. Powered by a 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine that generates 199kW of power and 318Nm of torque, it has a 2-tonne towing capacity.

Visibility is good too and the added safety of lane change warnings and proximity alerts will ensure you arrive at your destination safe and sound. In fact it’s packed with safety features and driver aids.

Hill start assist, downhill brake control, ABS, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, vehicle stability and traction control, and tyre pressure monitoring are all standard on the Active X.

The build quality and finish across the vehicle is excellent, and the Active X comes with twin spoke dark grey alloy wheels, and tinted rear windows. You’ll also find Android Auto and Apple Car Play to connect your smart phone to the car.

It all this adds up to a pretty advanced, worthy competitor in the market, where it finds itself up against the likes of the Kia Sorento, with the upgraded Santa Fe Elite and Highlander model variants gaining even more standard equipment.

Inside, the whole driving experience is made even easier due to the close proximity of all the controls that you’ll ever need, right there at your fingertips. The steering wheel is loaded with good stuff like the cruise control, and a host of audio controls.

There is also a range of controls for the phone and the on board computer, readily accessible from the wheel. While this may seem like nothing new, the layout is much improved over a number of competitor vehicles.

The interior really nice place to be. The leather seats are comfortable and roomy, although leg room in the third row is pretty tight and definitely more suited to younger folk rather than fully grown adults.

Utilising the seven seat capacity also cuts back on the amount of room in the luggage area significantly, leaving just enough room for some shopping, but you certainly couldn’t load up for a weekend away.

That said, with the third row of seats laid flat, there’s stacks of room for lots of luggage and shopping, some 516 litres. Lay all the seats flat, and you can triple that to 1,615 litres of space.

The air conditioning is really well thought out, with dual zone climate control up front, and additional control options for the rear passengers. Heated seats are available in the front too, and the addition of seat venting would go a long way in our long hot summers.

There is some great storage in the console with plenty of room for phones, snacks and drinks, and plenty of options for USB connectivity and charging as well as power sources throughout the vehicle.

Fitted with a six speed automatic gearbox, the all wheel drive Santa Fe Active X features three engine modes – Eco, Normal and Sport. As you would expect Eco, like most cars, is a little lacklustre.

Both normal and sport modes provide very smooth performance, with sport providing extra get up and go when you need it. Be careful not to over need it though, as you might find some flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror if you’re not careful.

There’s some real power on tap in the Active X that can get you off the line in a flash or make overtaking on the highway a breeze. It’s super smooth, controlled and best of all – it’s really quiet.

For a V6 it has pretty good fuel economy as well and the 64-litre fuel tank will take you almost 600km. Fuel consumption is claimed to be 10.5-litres/100km but the best we could manage was an 11.6-litres/100km.

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Active X comes in a range of colours that includes Titanium Silver, Phantom Black, Ocean View (our test vehicle), Tan Brown, Titanium Silver, White Crystal and Pure White. It hits the road at $40,990 drive away.

Our road test vehicle was provided by Hyundai Australia. To find out more about the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Active X, your local Hyundai dealer.

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