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Tough on the outside, soft inside


THE SANTA FE got the best of Euro and Japanese styling to produce a more mainstream masculine look.

My hubby recently brought me a bevy of Korean beauty products which have achieved cult status all over the world.  Korean beauty products barged into the limelight with the BB cream fad and have changed the landscape of the cosmetic industry, even with the stronger, more established cosmetic houses.  From Chanel to Maybeline they all have followed suit with their own version of either BB or CC cream. Korean imports are taking the world by storm, from electronics, telenovelas, food, pop stars and Korean-made cars. In a short time, they have become one of the largest players in the global arena of car manufacturing.

The Santa Fe was the first sport utility vehicle (SUV) offering of Korean car giant Hyundai, which somewhat made them a household name in the United States. The Santa Fe is named after a city in New Mexico, known for its mountain ranges, Spanish colonial roots and being the highest state capital in the United States (It stands 7,199 feet above sea level according to Wikipedia).  Launched in 2001, the Sonata-based platform midsize SUV (or should we say crossover) received a lot of recognition from both local and international car awards group.  The third-generation Santa Fe, holds a turbocharged R eVGT 2.2-liter diesel engine which delivers 194.3 HP at 3,800 rpm, and six-speed H-Matic transmission.   My test-drive unit was a 2.2L premium 4WD which retails for P2.2 million.  The 2WD version goes for around P1.5-1.7 milllion.

THE DASHBOARD gives has that space age vibe especially with 4.3-inch TFT touchscreen LCD with rear camera display.

Storage and interior space

Like all SUVs the Santa Fe receives an S&R Sales rating thanks to a fully collapsible second and third row.  They have all the necessary buttons, such as automatic chair collapse,  to make your life easier .  The Santa Fe is a spacious seven-seater when needed. The second row holds a sliding two big and a small middle chair (40:20:40), while the third row is a 50:50 split.  Due to the design, the headroom on the third row feels a bit low and the windows a bit small. Just don’t put anybody with space issues there.  Baby car seats fit snugly and are not hampered with the seatbelts of other passengers

Drive and ride

VANITY mirrors with large lights

The Santa Fe boasts a very comfortable ride and drive.  It has a very light steering dynamic which for some is too light to get a good driving feel of the vehicle but for me was just right.  During the make-up test, my co-test driver Pia timed a total of 25.30 minutes from a scratch to night face which is just around the average for its class; it gets a rating of 3.5 out of 5 the liquid eyeliner and 3 out 5 for the eyelashes test; It is easy to maneuver and park. Another item worth mentioning is its drive style customization; the Santa Fe has Flex Steer function with control modes of comfort, normal and sport to better-fit specific driving situations.


EASY-ACCESS charging center

The midsize SUV carries Hyundai’s signature “Fluidic Sculpture,” for me it has a Euro-Japanese look. Unlike its brother the Kia Sorento, which has gone the European way, The Santa Fe got the best of Euro and Japanese styling to produce a more mainstream masculine look. Some of my co-test drivers said it looks a lot bigger than the previous models and they appreciated the 19-inch wheels that comes stock in the premium variant.  I guess the best way to describe it is this: “looks tough in the outside but softie in the inside” due to all the luxury trimmings it comes with.

The dashboard has that space age vibe especially with 4.3-inch TFT touchscreen LCD with rear camera display.  I appreciated the very accessible slot for charging your phones under the main center console.  Although the two toning in my test-drive unit went a notch overboard, the design patterns and materials are well blended to achieve the luxury appeal.

A FULLY COLLAPSIBLE second and third row


I was impressed with the charging capability of the Santa Fe; my regular ride only gives a 20-percent power after an hour of charging. The Santa Fe gave me about 60-percent power on my iPhone.  The Koreans also had gone crazy with the air-con vents that there will be no way for you to say that it would be a hot, uncomfortable ride.  It has a monstrous vent on the dash, one on the A pillar and on the third row as well.  The Santa Fe comes with keyless entry, Panoramic Sunroof and of course, two large, lighted vanity mirrors one for the passenger and another for the driver.


LEATHER seats with leather door trim and center console.

The Santa Fe comes with a stronger, reinforced shell.  They claim to have an increase of 15.7 percent stronger in torsional stiffness and 29.9 percent high steel application, in short they should be stronger than your average “lata” (tin can) vehicles.  Other safety features include Airbag System (for the Premium 4WD A/T variant), which includes Dual Front, Side and Curtain for extra precaution.  The Electronic Stability Program now employs the Hillstart Assist Control, Downhill Brake Control, and Brake Assist System.  And for our absent-minded friends, the Electric Parking Brake with Auto Vehicle Hold that prevents the vehicle from rolling away accidentally when standing still or setting off, without the driver having to keep his foot on the brake pedal, will come handy.

Things that I really like with the Santa Fe:

1. Lots of air-con vents

2. The optional window shade for second row  (I super love this.)

3. Very spacious and easy to drive

Things that I am not so cool with the Santa Fe:

1. The kangaroo pouch behind the front row seats

2. A little pricey for the premium variant

For comments and suggestions, please email me at jnt@chicdriven.com; like  us on Facebook/chicdriven or follow us at twitter @chicdriven. Check out our blog www.chicdriven.com/wordpress for behind the scenes and other topics.

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Tags: column , Hyundai , Jeanette Ipapo-Tuason , Motoring , santa fe

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