The stylish and family-focused SUV made a beeline for the Drive Car of the Year podium after its lauded launch in July this year, securing the Best Family SUV award against strong competition.
Hyundai’s fourth-generation family SUV met the challenge from some established rivals, including reigning category champion, Mazda’s CX-9.
The 2018 Santa Fe Elite’s immense showroom appeal – from its beautifully appointed interior in a choice of trims and finishes, to its cleverly practical design and generous specification – made it a strong prospect from the start.
Drive said the 2018 Santa Fe Elite was a clear winner, with five of seven judges placing it first in its segment.
"The all-new Santa Fe is beyond just being a spacious, thoughtful, safe and practical family car; it is a beacon of design that could easily wear a premium badge,” Drive said.
“The fact it is also great to drive, affordable to own, and introduces some innovative family-focused safety features makes it Drive's Best Family SUV of 2018."
Hyundai Motor Company Australia Chief Executive Officer, JW Lee, said that the 2018 Santa Fe Elite’s triumph in such a highly competitive and popular class was particularly gratifying.
“Winning the coveted Drive Car of the Year: Best Family SUV award among the strongest of competitors highlights the impressive all-round ability of the fourth-generation Santa Fe,” Mr. Lee said. “The 2018 Santa Fe Elite’s style, practicality, value and versatility make for a winning family vehicle.”
The 2018 Santa Fe Elite’s leather upholstery, advanced 8.0-inch multimedia with satellite navigation, Infinity Premium Audio, 18-inch alloy wheels and a power operated tailgate as well as Hyundai’s extensive SmartSense safety suite featuring autonomous emergency braking, contribute to a compelling $54,000 package that’s backed by Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
The economical and responsive 440Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel and eight-speed automatic combination, and an Australian-tuned chassis, helped impress the DRIVE judges with effortless, easy progress both on the circuit and road.
Drive’s Car of the Year programme is based at Goulburn’s Wakefield Park circuit, where each contender faces a series of dynamic exercises and simulated emergency scenarios in controlled conditions. Extensive urban and rural road driving around the region complete the test program.
Over an arduous week of assessment, Drive’s seven-strong editorial and road-test team compared 49 cars across 14 categories and covered more than 20,000 kilometres.