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by Tim Beissmann

The all-new Hyundai Santa Fe has been unveiled at the 2012 New York motor show, surprising the crowds by stepping out in two different body styles.

The conventional Santa Fe was revealed alongside a long-wheelbase version that features seating for seven adults and unique exterior styling.

In the US, the smaller model will be called Santa Fe Sport and the bigger version Santa Fe, while in Europe the smaller model will be called Santa Fe and the larger version Grand Santa Fe.

Hyundai Australia won’t face any naming dilemmas, however, as we will get only the regular, five-seater Santa Fe when the new model arrives later this year. The long-wheelbase variant will be built exclusively in left-hand drive, primarily for the North American market.

The larger Santa Fe replaces the dated Hyundai Veracruz in left-hand drive markets. It will be rolled out through the US in January 2013 and across Europe in the second half of next year.

As it does with the current model, Hyundai Australia will offer the new Santa Fe with a 5+2 seating configuration, which still gives owners the flexibility of seating seven people, although the two rear seats are essentially designed for children only.

In the US, the Santa Fe Sport will come with the option of two four-cylinder petrol engines: a 142kW/245Nm 2.4-litre and a 197kW/365Nm 2.0-litre direct-injection turbo. The larger Santa Fe is fitted exclusively with a 216kW 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine.

Hyundai Australia is yet to announce the powertrains it will offer when it launches the new Santa Fe locally, though a turbo diesel engine would again be expected to be available alongside petrol options.

All three are teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission and are available in either front- or all-wheel drive.

Both models embrace Hyundai’s ‘fluidic sculpture’ design language, sporting hexagonal grilles, wraparound headlights and taillights and a prominent waistline.

The LWB model gets a larger four-slat grille and a more muscular bonnet at the front, and a boxier shape at the rear to provide extra headroom for third-row passengers and more cargo space.

Both models get the same interior look, which Hyundai says has been designed for passenger comfort and functionality. The LWB Santa Fe has an extra 48mm of second-row legroom over the SWB model and an additional 159 litres of boot space.

The regular Santa Fe is 4689mm long and rides on a 2700mm wheelbase – making it 216mm shorter than the LWB Santa Fe, which rides on a 2799mm wheelbase. The new Santa Fe is 29mm longer than the outgoing model.

Both models are equipped with Hyundai’s all-new selectable steering system, which offers three modes – Comfort, Normal and Sport – for drivers to choose from according to their driving preferences and the road conditions. Hyundai says Comfort is perfect for city driving and parking, Normal is good for mixed conditions, and Sport is optimised for high-speed freeways and winding roads.

All models are fitted with seven airbags and electronic stability control, and the larger model adds a blind spot detection system.

Australian specifications and prices will be revealed closer to the Santa Fe’s local launch towards the end of the year.