When the Santa Fe got its first redesign for the 2007 model year, it was a significant one. While the first-generation model proved a popular choice in Canada, the new model brought on more interior space, a higher level of refinement, and impressive ride quality.
For 2010, the Santa Fe gets a mid-cycle refresh, although its mechanical changes are much more significant than its cosmetic ones.
Redesigned grille and bumper highlight the front end of this year’s Santa Fe, while the taillights have adopted a clear-lens design. Other changes include new alloy wheels and bodyside mouldings, but in general, the Santa Fe’s appearance is largely unchanged, which isn’t a bad thing.
Under the hood, though, the rather anemic 2.7-litre V6 has been dumped in favour of the revised 2.4-litre inline-4 that equips the new Tucson. A 24-valve, 3.5-litre V6 now becomes the top engine choice and the one our test truck is powered by, as it replaces the old 3.3-litre. Both engines are now managed by a 6-speed automatic.
With 276 horsepower in tap, the new Santa Fe is obviously speedier than before. But despite outgunning the hot-rod RAV4, it doesn’t feel as quick, although that aspect is not that important. The 6-speed tranny is more satisfying as the old 5-speed, as it reacts more quickly when the driver solicits a downshift. We had no problem matching the old V6’s fuel consumption, as we’re averaging 12.6 L/100 km.
The Santa Fe’s all-wheel drive system works reactively to road conditions: engine power is sent to the front wheels under normal driving conditions, but the system can reroute some of it to the rear wheels as needed. The driver can also lock the system up in a 50/50 power split, for a little extra confidence behind the wheel.
No problem with the Santa Fe’s ride, either. The suspension as well as the 18-inch wheels and tires easily swallow up road imperfections, and on the highway, the cockpit is quiet. The Koreans are starting to vastly improve their suspension setups, which used to be one of their biggest shortcomings.
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