Call me boring, but the new Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander is my choice.
This $60,500 large SUV impressed me in so many ways during a comparison against key rivals that I wrote earlier this year. It’s one thing to make a supercar great, but we can’t forget to focus on cars that everyday people will drive, either.
It’s not the most cutting edge car, obviously, but I love that Hyundai has taken some bold steps with the interior design, particularly its use of high grade materials, and developed the suspension for local roads specifically. It’s also loaded with active safety tech in Highlander grade as viewed here.
The premium materials and design used in the cabin take the Santa Fe in to a higher echelon, from the quilted leather seats, quality chrome or wood accents depending on your choice, padded head-lining, Jaguar-style wraparound cowl, Benz-style wavy speaker covers and more. It’s form and function.
The driving experience is fantastic, from the more refined 2.2-litre diesel engine with 8AT, to the compliant suspension and good body control. It’s an ideal balance.
Above: The Santa Fe, along with its other virtues, made a great filming car on the day.
It’s also got a heap of active safety boxes covered, from AEB to park assist, to blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, radar cruise control with stop and go, lane assist (which works as well as any primo German system) and a 360 camera.
Okay, sure, the new four-pot petrol engine option on entry grades is as inspiring as ‘90s office furniture, and the airbags don’t entirely cover the occasional-use third-row seats. They cover the glasshouse but not the D-pillar. This is an issue, albeit not an uncommon one.
However, it’s difficult to find other issues with this car, and unlike a lot of other Hyundais, there’s some extra-level style elements to match the substance. This is not a phone-in job.
Perhaps befitting my persona, there are enough head-turning sex machines here. The 2018 Santa Fe Highlander delivers a premium experience for regular families, and to me that’s equally worthy of celebration. So, to it…