Hyundai Santa Fe 3.3 V6 Elite – Review

Hyundai Santa Fe 3.3 V6 Elite – Review

Comfort in our vehicles is an incrementally improving thing. Every year the bar that measures what equipment should come as standard is raised, and that leads to heavier and heavier vehicles that are more and more complex.

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite V6 2013 rqHyundai’s effort to raise the bar is to put heated rear seats and three rows of air conditioning in its Santa Fe SUV, a vehicle that’s less than seventy grand, but punching above its weight in the plushness stakes. Sure, this is a long way from the vibrating

massage seats with ottomans that you get in a top-of-the-line $300,000+ Lexus, but how many cars had heated rear seats five years ago? In the words of Scribe, not many, if any.

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite V6 2013 sThe Santa Fe seats seven, so that third row will miss out on toasty buttocks, but they are catered for in the event of hot weather with their own air conditioning controls. While second row air-con is now getting a little passé, third row systems are not common at all, but very welcome in the middle of summer.

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite V6 2013 front interiorFor the driver, a leather 12-way electronically adjustable seats with 2-way adjustable lumbar support will leave you refreshed at the end of the journey, like you’ve just come from a day spa. OK, maybe not that refreshed, but certainly making progress in the Santa Fe is very easy. With 199kW and 318Nm of torque, getting the 1715kg Santa Fe past slower vehicles is quite simple and is accompanied by a V6 roar that scares four-cylinder cars out of the way. Fuel economy is quoted at 9.6l/100km combined, and that is achievable if you use the Active Eco mode.

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite V6 2013 rear seatsAdding to the electronics that keep you comfortable are electronics that keep you safe. It’s a large car and it’s only two-wheel drive which would make it a wheelspinning nightmare in the wet if it weren’t for the traction control. To stop, there is ABS braking with electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist system, and downhill brake control (like a hill descent mode). To assist with cornering and loss of control there is electronic stability control, advanced traction cornering control, self-levelling suspension and vehicle stability management.

If that plethora of electronic aids can’t keep you out of trouble then seven airbags and a 5-star ANCAP crash rating provide the final line of defence (the crash rating is not for the V6, but is for the 2.4-litre 4-cylinder; the 2.2-litre diesel has a EuroNCAP 5-star rating, too, therefore you should be able to extrapolate similar results).

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite V6 2013 third rowThe Santa Fe rides on 235/60R18 wheels and 18-inch alloys. These provide a good amount of lateral grip for a car this size, with a minimum of road noise. They fill the wheel arches better, too, than the 17-inch wheels of the 2.4-litre petrol model.

On unlit roads at night the Hyundai’s cornering lights help see more clearly when turning at intersections. When the indicator is activated, a secondary light illuminates on the side you are indicating, making turning into unlit driveways easier.

This Santa Fe gives the flexibility of a seven-seater for transporting people, but those seats easily fold flat to create a large boot. The middle row has split folding (also lying flat) and can create a large load space.

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite V6 2013 boot 2This Elite model gets darkened privacy glass in the rear; the Elite Limited ($79,990) also gets rear pull-up window shades. All models come with engine immobiliser and keyless entry with anti-theft alarm.

Hyundai’s flex steer comes with three steering modes – comfort, normal and sports. Comfort is extremely light – too light. All modes suffer from a jittery feeling at low speeds, something that’s not uncommon with this type of steering arrangement. The modes can be selected from the steering wheel, as can cruise control, phone controls and cruise control.

The media centre is accessed via a seven-inch touchscreen which also doubles as the screen for the satellite navigation and reversing camera. The reversing camera image is sometimes a little jerky, like it’s transmitting a low frame rate.

Does it all serve to insulate you more and more from the road in preparation for when (in Google’s future view), cars are driverless and all we’ll need to do is kick back and get comfy. Some of these advances in comfort and safety are common sense and very useful (automatic lights and wipers, for example); some are marginally useful (glovebox cooling, for example).

The Hyundai Santa Fe Elite is a very competent and comfortable vehicle to drive. Apart from the couple of previously mentioned foibles, the levels of luxury and space are excellent. Pull up a comfortable chair – the driver’s seat, perhaps – and expect to spend some time with the instruction manual, or you’ll be finding new features for months by accident.

If you’re considering other models of Santa Fe, you could try the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe Elite CRDi (diesel) and the 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe Elite CRDi (diesel) reviews on Car and SUV.

Price: $67,990


  • Comfortable and capacious with plenty of safety features
  • Drives like a car


  • No 4WD option in this model
  • Diesel model might be a better option (see links above to diesel versions)


Words: ; photos: Vanessa James

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