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Hyundai’s already accomplished Sante Fe SUV gets a larger 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine.

Before Xmas Hyundai replaced the 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in its polished seven-seat Sante Fe SUV with a more powerful 3.5-litre 206kW V6 – Hyundai now offering the 3.5-litre V6 in three front drive models, Active, Elite and Highlander and a 2.2-litre turbo diesel in three matching all-wheel-drive models, all with eight-speed automatic.  I drove the top-spec V6 petrol Highlander at $58,050, as you’d expect, comprehensively equipped with all the bells and whistles. Ride and handling has come in for some more local tuning while safety has been further enhanced with the addition of Hyundai’s SmartSense suite of active safety technology.

Open the doors on this Highlander Sante Fe and you are met by an impressive interior package – keep in mind its under $60,000 however what presents is a far more premium package with superb finishes – the front seats exude comfort, powered, heated and cooled and finished in partial leather – they offer superb support.  Second row seat comfort is also excellent, heated on the outboard seats, but third row seats are best for kids and short rides at that – at least, well served by climate controls, air vents and cup holders – but how often do you see 7 up in an SUV. A standard panoramic roof makes the interior even more pleasing while a powered tailgate is just so convenient. An already impressive SUV now even better. Driving comments in an hour.

I’m David Berthon

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