A few of my mum friends have the previous model seven-seater Hyundai Santa Fe and they LOVE it! So I am very keen to see for myself how it is as a family car and give it the BabyDrive testing!!
I'm testing the top spec model the Santa Fe Highlander and it is FULL of features, there's so many, I'm not too sure where to start!!!
When only using five seats the boot was nice and big, I could fit 17 shopping bags, which is one less than the Mazda CX-9, one more than the Kia Sorento and two more than the Skoda Kodiaq. The Mountain Buggy Duet twin stroller fitted nicely with six shopping bags around it as did all the other strollers or you could fit a large dog in the boot.
There was even a nice carpet you could put down over the floor of the boot when you are using only five seats, This stops the seat backs and tabs getting damaged and gives you a nice flat area, perfect for boot picnics and emergency nappy changes!!
When using all seven seats the boot space is not very practical. I could fit five shopping bags in there or the Mountain Buggy Nano stroller with three shopping bags but none of the other strollers would fit! You wouldn't put a dog in that space either it's far too small.
Storage inside the cabin is good, the cup holders and door bins are well sized, fitting re-usable and disposable coffee cups and large refillable water bottles fit in both. The wireless charging tray for your phone in front of the gear lever also has a 12V, AUX and USB sockets for connecting and charging your phone. There's a lined glasses case in the ceiling and all the doors have little wells in the handles. The glove box is small and has a cooling vent inside it, the glove box wasn't big enough for an iPad but there is an extra rubber lined shelf above it in the dashboard. In the back, there are good sized map pockets, door bins and two cup holders in the second row and cup holders for the third row too.
There are so many fantastic family features in the Santa Fe BUT there are some that just don't make sense to me! The seats being one of them, you can not access the third-row seats without removing a child seat in the second row. Which automatically puts in in the occasional seven-seater bracket for me! It just wouldn't be practical to remove child seats every day, perhaps more than once a day! The second-row seats do slide to adjust for leg room and there is a convenient press button next to the headrest on the passenger side seat back in the second row that collapses the seat forward to access the third row.
There is also a lever and buttons on the side of the seat base to move it too! In fact, I found there are so many little buttons and levers for the mechanism it is hard to work out what they all do AND little fingers get very interested in all the buttons and causing mischief!!!
In the second row, there are ISO Fix in the two outer seats, they are not within plastic guides, they are between the seat back and seat base cushions. Which made them a little hard to connect to. There are top tether anchor points in the back of all three second-row seat backs. They are within plastic guides and easy to connect to but not very easy to access because I had to keep bringing different seat backs forward to reach them and it was too far for me to reach across the boot.
There are no ISO Fix or top tethers in the third-row seats so I couldn't install any child seats there. I also found with the third-row seats that the headroom was very limited. I am only 164cm and my head just skimmed the ceiling. Also the legroom is an issue in the Santa Fe, with the second-row seats in their furthest back position, with a rear facing child seat installed behind the front passenger seat, there was 16cm of knee room in the front passenger seat, we found it just enough for a 184cm passenger, but the third-row seat really doesn't have any legroom when the second-row seats are in their furthest back position. It is because of this I feel the Santa Fe is more practical as an occasional seven-seater and more of an everyday five-seater with a nice big boot!
Three child seats fit across the second-row seats, I installed the Britax Maxi Guard Pro and Kid Guard Pro forward facing using the seatbelts and top tethers and the Britax Graphene rear facing using the ISO Fix and top tether. The seats were a bit of a squeeze to install but actually fitted in quite nicely.
I LOVED the rear doors having built-in window shades, I think these are a fantastic BabyDrive feature! So you can put them up at the start of a journey knowing if the sun comes round onto Bubs facing during the drive then they will be shaded.
I really struggle to understand Hyundais thinking behind the positioning of the rear heated seat button, it is on the rear door armrests! Which of course little forward facing fingers are going to fiddle with and you have no control over them from the front, and from the front, you can't see if they're turned on or reach to turn them off while you're driving!!
There are some nice features like the child lock button at the bottom of the driver's door panel, that turns the rear door child locks on and off and locks the windows too!
There are also buttons on the inside of the front passenger seat to slide it forward and back and recline the seat back, this is great for the driver to be able to maneuver the passenger seat from their position for example when picking kids up from school if they are getting themselves into the back.
The rear doors also have a feature that detects traffic, bikes and pedestrians coming up on the side of them and alerts you with an alarm as well them locking the doors if you try and open them! This is, of course, a great safety feature however the beeping alarm adds to the cacophony of child waking, safety bells and alarms the Santa Fe is riddled with! Like the rear seat alert! Reminding you with a child waking chime to take your children out of the back seats when you come to a stop!! As if we could ever forget them!!!
The media touch screen system is very good in the Santa Fe, it is easy to navigate, has built-in Sat-Nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
I LOVED the ability to choose to control the sat-nav volume using the volume knob and screen controls!
The Santa Fe was a disappointingly noisy car to drive! The engine was extremely loud when revving and especially loud accelerating up hills. I really wasn't expecting it of such a modern and well-designed vehicle.
The Santa Fe is a nice looking car outside and inside, as soon as I opened the door the detailing on the seats and speaker fronts reminded me of Federation Square in Melbourne and although I really like the stitch detailing I know how un-BabyDrive friendly it is!!
As a family car and a BabyDrive, the Santa Fe is very good as a five-seater with the flexibility of occasionally carrying extras in the third row! I have a friend with the previous model and the third-row seats are for when the grandparents come to visit! As a five-seater, it has a nice big boot and there is just enough legroom. There are some fantastic safety features like the child lock buttons and family-friendly features and some not so family friendly like the second-row heated seat buttons! Three big child seats did fit across the second-row seats too.
The Hyundai Santa Fe got a 5-star ANCAP safety rating in 2012 and comes with six airbags as standard, that worryingly do NOT extend to the third-row seats.