Bigger and better are words that can be appended to the menu of the new Hyundai Santa Fe.

This Korean SUV has been gathering a growing fan base and the newcomer will undoubtedly build on that.

The Santa Fe has an interesting back story. It was launched in 2001 with Hyundai keen to tackle the US market. It turned into a huge success, to the point Hyundai struggled to meet demand.

Typical of the global car market, the Santa Fe comes out of plants all over the globe, including Ulsan in South Korea and Alabama (USA).

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The previous model rolled off production lines in Egypt, China, Malaysia, Russia and Algeria. It doesn't get more universal than that.

We've been having time in the Santa Fe 2.2 Limited. That word "limited" is usually a precursor to lofty price and it's no exception. At $82,990, this 2.2-litre turbo diesel-powered model is the dearest in the bunch.

But there are a good number of variants in this particular bunch to choose from, so not all will need deep pockets.

At this price you expect plenty and the new Santa Fe delivers. The interior is trimmed in leather, front seats are powered, heated and ventilated and there's heating for the back seat.

There are four drive modes and comfort levels are at the pointy end of that spectrum.

The Santa Fe has been given a major make-over this time around. It parades a new exterior look, emboldened by a front end that indicates it means business.

The redesign has brought a big SUV that's lighter, stronger and more spacious than its predecessors.

The new Santa Fe has been stretched every which way. The wheelbase is longer and so is its overall length.

The simple translation means more interior space, and in a seven-seater that matters.

Access to that third row isn't a problem either as the second row of seats can move forward. And if it's more load space you're after then the second seat row folds down quickly with a one-touch button.

The front end of the fourth generation version has been copied from the Hyundai Kona, which means it comes with an imposing grille and new lighting arrangement.

Interior is at the high end and comfort levels have been targeted. An 8-inch touchscreen accesses a myriad of functions.

There's dual zone climate control air conditioning, and the Limited comes with separate air con controls for those riding in the third seat.

Don't underestimate the ability of the 2.2-litre turbo diesel to shift this biggie around either. It lines up to an eight-speed transmission, delivering a drive that's hard to get antsy about.

Hyundai claims a fuel consumption figure of 7.5 litres per 100km (urban-highway combined).

And the newbie comes with a host of safety features; all wrapped up in what Hyundai calls its SmartSense technology suite. As well as parallel park assist, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist and driver alerts (should you not focus on the task at the wheel), there are two other nifty additions.

There are motion sensors in the cabin that will let you know if you've inadvertently left a passenger (or pet) inside the SUV after you've left it and locked it. And the safety exit system recognises vehicles (including cyclists) approaching from the side if you're about to get out. It automatically locks the doors to prevent that happening.

The surround view monitor shows up a 360-degree view from the driver's seat and it's a boon when you're driving in restricted situations.

The Limited also picks up features such as the panoramic sunroof and powered tailgate.
There are two Limited models in the new Santa Fe line-up.

The other is the 2.4-litre turbo petrol option. At $75,490 it's $7500 cheaper than the Limited diesel we've been driving. But if its fuel economy you're after — and remember, this is a big unit — then the diesel Limited maybe the more expensive but rates as the more economical option.

For a big unit the Santa Fe Limited shows remarkable agility and poise. Couple that with the trick gear aboard then the Limited would be a weapon of choice for many if it involves long-haul motoring with a load hitched.

Photos / Bevan Conley
Photos / Bevan Conley

Techno Stuff …

Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 Limited

Price

$82,990

Engine

2.2-litre turbo diesel

Power

147kW at 3850rpm, 440Nm from 1750-2750rpm

Transmission

8-speed with paddle shift, AWD

Suspension

MacPherson strut (front), multi-link (rear)

Brakes

Discs (front vented)

Safety

ABS, EBD, BAS, TCS, ESC

Size

4770mm long, 1890mm wide, 1705mm tall, 2765mm wheelbase

Wheels

19-in alloys, 235/55 tyres

Fuel

70 litres diesel