2016 Hyundai Santa Fe DM3 Pricing & Full Details
Hyundai updated the Santa Fe for the start of 2016. Prices rose slightly, but there was a massive hike in equipment levels - especially in Highlander. So, if you’re in the market for a high-quality seven-seat SUV, this is certainly a frontrunner on your shortlist.
VIDEO REPORT, RIGHT
This was a strategic upgrade for the Hyundai Santa Fe, which was last updated in January 2015 - essentially with new hair and makeup. That was a typical mid-life makeover, with a few tricks, like auto parallel parking and adaptive cruise control. This upgrade was aimed at delivering more equipment than you get in Tucson Highlander, and also the better to compete with the latest Kia Sorento, which upset Santa Fe’s apple cart somewhat, back in August - especially at the top of the respective ranges: Sorento Platinum versus Highlander.
More on Kia Sorento here >>
This update was all about Highlander, basically. Prices also rose on Elite, albeit modestly - prices were up $1500 on Elite and $2750 on Highlander. And on Highlander, the value equation became even more impressive. Prices on Santa Fe Active didn’t change. Internally the upgrade was called 'DM3' - but publicly they’re referring to it as the 'Santa Fe Series II' (even though it's really the third version of the specifications for this car).
Santa Fe Active: Pricing unchanged
- Santa Fe Active 2.4 GDI petrol six-speed manual: $38,490
- Santa Fe Active 2.4 GDI petrol six-speed auto: $40,990
- Santa Fe Active 2.2 CRDI diesel six-speed manual: $41,490
- Santa Fe Active 2.2 CRDI diesel six-speed auto: $43,990
Santa Fe Elite: Price increases $1500
- Santa Fe Elite 2.2 CRDI diesel six-speed auto: $49,990
Santa Fe Highlander: Price increases $2750
- Santa Fe Highlander 2.2 CRDI diesel six-speed auto: $55,990
- (Kia Sorento Platinum 2.2 CRDI diesel six-speed auto: $55,990)
Hyundai has an excellent driveaway price calculator >> This will give you the recommended maximum price you should pay for your new Santa Fe - including state-based fees and charges. You should factor in a significant discount - because discounting is heavy in this segment. Below are three actual deals I managed for Santa Fe back in June - with the actual savings achieved, for reference. (Biggest factor in the variation is geography: discounts are highest in areas with greater dealer competition.) Enquire now >>
The Santa Fe lineup remains the same as before - Active in petrol or diesel, with auto and manual transmissions available, and on-demand all-wheel-drive, with a locking function, across the range. Elite and Highlander are diesel auto only. The SR variant with suspension tweaks and (importantly) red brake callipers is also available at the top of the range.
Across the board - new grille, new headlights, new tail lamps, new DTRLs and new fog lamps. Very ‘Peter Schreyer’ on the lights, incidentally - especially in the Highlander. He’s the guy who designed the Audi TT, then went on and revolutionised Kia’s styling, before becoming the styling boss at Hyundai-Kia. New exhaust tips, too - trapezoidal. There’s a big word for a box without equal sides. Plus new 17-, 18- and 19-inch alloys for Active, Elite and Highlander, respectively. Slimmer spokes there.
Inside, there’s new instrument clusters, new audio head units and new trim. Fake woodgrain - sorry, (quote) ‘woodgrain effect’ on Santa Fe Active. Asians love fake wood - I don’t know why. Matte carbon-fibre - faux carbon fibre - on replaces the plastic wood on Elite and Highlander. Basically in terms of styling, Santa Fe Series II is a grab-bag of everything you can change cheaply to differentiate the new one from the old one visually. And it looks good … except for the alleged ‘wood’.
DELETED: GOODBYE CD PLAYER
Hyundai also deleted the CD player across the range - because if you’re still playing a CD, it might interest you to learn we said goodbye to the 20th Century 16 years ago. These days, you can have a billion CDs on your smartphone. A billion. The CD has gone the way of the LP record, the eight-track tape player and the audio cassette... RIP.
SANTA FE ACTIVE
Model-by model: There were minor upgrades only on Santa Fe Active - trip computer gets a digital speedo, plus there’s a 3.5-inch LCD centre display in the cluster, and a seven-inch audio centre screen, six speakers, and the system comes with Siri Eyes Free for iOS and Google Now for Android - for voice commands. Basically, you hit the ‘voice’ button on the screen, and you enable either iOS or Android voice command back to your smartphone to make calls, play music, compose SMS messages, and access your calendar etc.
SANTA FE ELITE
Santa Fe Elite Series II is a $1500 price hike over Series I, and it delivers a new 8-inch touchscreen sat-nav unit with Suna live traffic updates. There’s a 550-watt Infinity sound system with six speakers, a couple of tweeters, centre speaker, sub-woofer and an external amplifier. The side mirrors dip when you select reverse now (that used to be a Highlander-only trick) and there’s dynamic parking guidelines overlaid on the reverse camera vision. Elite also cops four parking sensors up the front, electric adjustment for the front passenger seat, to match the driver’s seat - which now gets a memory function, and the grille gets that darker, satin chrome treatment.
SANTA FE HIGHLANDER
Headlining this whole Series II upgrade is Santa Fe Highlander - it’s the real reason for bothering. Basically Hyundai needed Santa Fe Highlander to overtake Tucson Highlander and compete head-to-head with Kia Sorento: that was the brief. $55,990 is exactly where Sorento Platinum is placed - so they went head-to-head on price.
Adaptive Cruise Control
Biggest upgrade to Highlander was adaptive cruise control - a radar unit in the grille - that provides automatic adaptation to the traffic speed and distance at operating speeds from 30km/h to 180km/h. It’ll even accommodate stop-start traffic - which is a matter of trust, at least the first few times, but not bad in peak-hour driving, once you make friends with it.
(Hyundai calls it ‘Smart Cruise Control’ - because if carmakers used the same name for identical systems, the model ranges and features might make sense to buyers. It might enable comparative shopping. And we wouldn’t want that.)
Autonomous Emergency Braking
That radar system together with a forward-facing camera, delivers autonomous emergency braking - next big thing in safety, according to the experts - as well as forward collision warning, which is helpful if you happen to be perving at a pretty girl when the car in front stops unexpectedly. Functionality is from 8km/h to 70km/h for pedestrians, and up to 180km/h for vehicles in front.
Below 80km/h the vehicle performs emergency-style stops if warranted, but it brakes less severely above 80 to allow you to swerve, or otherwise manoeuvre evasively … if that seems like a good idea at the time. The camera is also used for the new lane departure warning system, which is mainly designed to beep at you if you get fatigued and drift off. Or if you decide to send a text message instead of paying attention.
The only thing that worries me about this advanced safety stuff is feedback - some people take greater risks when the vehicle’s systems shoulder more of the safe driving burden. It’s called ‘risk homeostasis’. You know: ‘I’ll just send this vital SMS, and the car will tell me if I’m about to have a head-on crash’. These systems are not a substitute for vigilance. Just saying.
Blind Spot Warning, Lane Change Assist & Automated Parking
Santa Fe Series II Highlander buyers also get blind-spot detection and lane-change assist - which are flipsides of the same coin: they warn you about vehicles approaching from behind, in the other lane. You also get rear cross traffic alert - which is good for not getting cleaned up when you reverse out of a blind parking spot, and the automated parking system (which is unfortunately called ‘SPAS’ - for 'smart parking assist system') also includes a 90-degree mode to complement the previous parallel-only functionality. And the parallel mode has been upgraded to include a ‘get me out of here’ function for tight spots … although Hyundai doesn’t call it that.
See the automated parking system in action:
Robot parking versus human >>
The diesel engine has had what you’d call a ‘marketing department’ upgrade. Nothing to see here. This is where marketing e-mails engineering and says - mate, we need to tell the punters an engine story. Can you fudge the figures a bit? So, the 2.2 CRDi diesel cops a notional 2kW upgrade - count them - two - or, just over one per cent - and four more Newton-metres (that’s just under one per cent). Good luck feeling that when the light goes green. At best, a technical upgrade.
Inexplicably the 2.4 direct injected petrol actually comes down by three kilowatts and a whole one Newton-metre. Hyundai says you get better driveability in both cases. And fuel efficiency, according to the official tests, which are bullshit (except for comparing vehicles) is between 0.3 and 0.4 litres per 100km better - that’s about $60 a year if you’re an average driver. I fantasise about the day when car companies are brave enough to say: the engines were already good. We left them alone. It’ll never happen.
UPDATE IN CONTEXT
This upgrade was really no big deal for Santa Fe Active. It was a minor knock-on benefit for Santa Fe Elite. But it was a big deal for Santa Fe Highlander. Series II Highlander got back in the game, effectively, against newer entrants - especially the Kia Sorento - and Hyundai also added a handful of reasons to step up from Tucson Highlander to Santa Fe Highlander - even if you keep the third row of seats folded flat because you don’t need them.
For just $2750 extra that Santa Fe Series II Highlander seems like it became an even better deal. If you’ve never driven a car with adaptive cruise control - make a point of trying it. It’s awesome.
The best news for you, if you’re in the market, is the Sorento Platinum and Santa Fe Highlander are now in a photo finish - and the price is not a factor in the decision. Hyundai’s got more cred, and it’s the most popular brand. And Santa Fe’s a sensational vehicle - it’s not cheap but it is great value. Santa Fe is an excellent combination of a great vehicle with solid consumer support fundamentals - warranty, service interval and costs - stuff like that. The Kia: not as popular, nor as trusted, but they are getting there - and the Sorento’s got 90mm more length on its side, which translates into a little extra space for rows two and three. Kia’s also got seven years worth of warranty, against Hyundai’s five.
The way this is going to evolve: Kia’s going to be the youth market-focussed arm of Hyundai-Kia and Hyundai’s going to be the more conservative, mature buyer’s choice. That’s kind of the next step for them in Australia - but there will inevitably be some overlap. Both brands are rocketing ahead, while traditional players including Toyota, Holden, Ford and Honda, have lost significant chunks of market share.
Hyundai Santa Fe Series II versus Kia Sorento is a very tough decision. Personal preference is probably the biggest single factor, so test drive both and decide what you like. The new Series II Santa Fe actually went on sale mid-November 2015.
Stay updated: Official Santa Fe specifications >>