Best AWD SUV $45,000-$65,000

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander

The Hyundai Santa Fe has won ahead of much fancied rivals in this category for the third consecutive year. The Santa Fe keeps gaining an edge in areas such as better standard features and safety scores, plus it’s consistently good in almost every aspect of the buying process, long-term ownership and general driving ability. The five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, supported by Hyundai's broad dealer network, is added assurance.

Those who aren’t brand snobs have realised they can get a fully equipped, top-of-the-range Santa Fe Highlander for about the same money as a similar-sized base or mid-spec model in other brands.

The Highlander’s long list of standard luxury features includes leather trim with heated and ventilated front and heated centre row seats along with dual-zone air-conditioning with rear vents and separate fan-speed control for the third row. Seating up to seven, there is a myriad of seat folding and sliding combinations. Complementing this is the smart, hands-free powered tailgate that was part of its recent upgrade.

The 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine pumps out a useful 145kW of power at 3000rpm and develops a hearty 436Nm of torque at a relatively low 1800rpm. Coupled with an efficient six-speed automatic transmission, the Santa Fe pulls strongly from low speeds for smooth operation around town, while it cruises comfortably on the highway and does a good job off road.

Indicative Drive Away Price: $57,949

View scoresheet

Criteria out of 10 – Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander

Value for Money  Rating
Pricing  5H
Depreciation  5M
Running and Repair Costs  7M
Fuel Consumption  5M
Warranty and Dealer Access  9M
Insurance  10L
Standard Features  9H

Design and Function  Rating 
Safety   7C
Environment  6C
Seating Comfort  8H
Space  7M
Practicality  9H
Ergonomics  8H
Build and Finish  7H

On the Road  Rating
Performance  6M
Ride  7H
Handling  7H
Braking  6M
Smoothness and Quietness  7M

Off the Road  Rating
General Off-Road Ability  6M

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

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