HYUNDAI SANTA FE
Price as tested: $62,710
This month: 2114km @ 8.3L/100km
BRASSY ’60s jazz-rock outfit Blood, Sweat & Tears sang “what goes up, must come down,” in their 1969 hit ‘Spinning Wheel’. They were right, of course, as affirmed some three centuries earlier by Sir Isaac Newton and that apple.
So it was that after several weeks of sun, surf and sand in Sydney, we succumbed to gravity and pointed the Santa Fe’s nose back towards Melbourne.
Having made our way north via the Hume’s easy-driving dual carriageway, it made sense to test the Highlander on the longer but undeniably more scenic and entertaining Princes Highway.
Steaming south, with the kids strapped in and a full load, we noticed the Santa Fe occasionally finding its bump stops on some of the road’s more prominent humps and bumps. Whether this was due to the fact we’d all put on a few extra holiday kilos, or that the coastal route is not nearly as well kept as its inland counterpart, the Santa Fe occasionally blotted its ride/handling copybook, with a roller-coaster-like moment of discomfort, before settling.
The ride is well judged for the most part, with good initial compliance. However, certain humps and depressions can catch it out, the compression feeling overly soft and the rebound a little underdone.
That aside, the nicely appointed cabin is a comfortable and pleasant place to spend a few hours, with a good driving position and handy features like a head-up display that incorporates blind-spot monitoring.
There were few complaints from the cheap seats, both daughters remaining personally cooled by their individual air-con vents and plugged into their respective USB ports. They also enjoyed ample leg room, individual back-rest rake adjustment, and enough shoulder room to render hair pulling an unnecessary exertion.
Meanwhile, as our load grew thanks to crucial souvenir purchases at every beachside town, I thanked the Santa Fe’s designers for their foresight in predicting that holidaying families would need every bit of available boot space, and designing their electric tailgate to allow packing right up to the boot lip, without the thing popping open in protest. Trust me when I say that those extra few millimetres saved your humble correspondent a good deal of blood, sweat and tears.