The 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe range has been boosted by the inclusion of an entry-level front-wheel drive petrol variant.

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The Hyundai Santa Fe is now available with a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, joining the 2.2-litre diesel engine which has been offered exclusively for more than two years.

The combination of the petrol engine and front-wheel drive cuts $3000 off the price of all three Santa Fe variants – SLX, Elite and Highlander.

Specifications of 2WD petrol models and 4WD diesel models are identical.

The 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine produces 204kW of power and 335Nm of torque. It is only available with the six-speed automatic transmission, which is unchanged from that used in the diesel model.

Combined cycle fuel consumption is 9.6 litres/100km (7.5 litres/100km highway, 13.4 litres/100km city) while CO2 emissions average 230g/km.

The diesel is a considerably more frugal option, using just 6.7 litres/100km combined with the six-speed manual transmission (SLX only) and 7.5 litres/100km with the auto.

Overall vehicle weight of the 2WD petrol is down 126kg from the AWD diesel (1862kg vs 1988kg). Towing capacity is identical at 2000kg braked/750kg unbraked.

Hyundai Australia’s Stephen Howard said the brand’s production planners believed there was demand in the medium SUV market for a front-wheel drive petrol model at a lower price point than the all-wheel drive diesel. The popular Toyota Kluger, Ford Territory and Holden Captiva 7 are all offered with 2WD petrols as their base model.

Sales of the 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe are so far 18.3 percent below their levels at the same time in 2010 (1370 vs 1676).

The Santa Fe makes up 5.5 percent of the medium SUV market, making it the sixth most popular vehicle in the segment – behind the Toyota Prado, Kluger, Territory, Captiva 7 and Mitsubishi Pajero.

2011 Hyundai Santa Fe manufacturer’s list prices:

  • SLX 3.5 V6 automatic – $36,990
  • SLX 2.2 manual – $37,990
  • SLX 2.2 automatic – $39,990
  • Elite 3.5 V6 automatic – $40,990
  • Elite 2.2 automatic – $43,990
  • Highlander 3.5 V6 automatic – $45,490
  • Highlander 2.2 automatic – $48,490