New 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV steps out

Published: 18 August 2017

► New Santa Fe gets sharper styling
► Expect much improved dynamics
► Target: Skoda Kodiaq seven-seater

These new spy photos of a lightly-disguised 2018 Santa Fe are proof that Hyundai’s intended world domination plan is gathering pace. Korean top brass have already confirmed their aim to become the largest Asian car brand in Europe – and fielding a range of competitive SUVs is central to this scheme.

We have a new batch of scoop photos showing the all new seven-seater Hyundai Santa Fe during testing – and a sharp new look will help it in its battle for sales with rivals such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Skoda Kodiaq and Kia Sorrento.

The engineers have stripped it of its earlier, heavier camouflage up front for hot-weather testing, so we now have a much better idea of how it’s going to look.

The new 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe: what to expect

The new Santa Fe will continue what Hyundai appears to have started with the upcoming B-segment SUV Kona. Although recently-installed design chief Luc Donckerwolke hasn’t overseen the Santa Fe’s styling from scratch, he’s had final sign-off. Given his recent mission statement that he wants Hyundai’s design to take a step change, it should shake off memories the outgoing car’s functional styling.

The new 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe

There’s no word on the engine range yet, but expect the line-up to reflect the Hyundai Sonata/Kia Optima’s petrol and diesel power units. Hyundai has also committed to electrification, so expect a plug-in hybrid soon after launch.

Like its market sector rivals, front-wheel drive will be the default-choice transmission layout, with four-wheel drive available as an option, and standard on more expensive models.

Browse secondhand Hyundai Santa Fe cars for sale

Safety kit, specs

Hyundai is accelerating its safety and autonomy development, so expect a five-star Euro NCAP rating (the company has its own extensive crash test centre on-site at its Korean development centre), and a further refinement of its adaptive cruise control system.

In terms of dynamics, Hyundai’s head of N Division, and ex-BMW M Division guru, Albert Biermann, has confirmed he will have the final say on the way all Hyundais steer and handle. So expect the dynamics of the Santa Fe to be benchmarked against the class-leading Skoda Kodiaq.

Spy photos: the new 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV

The new front-end styling is likely will find its way to the entire Hyundai SUV range. The thin LED strip that sits above the headlights (Citroen-style) will flank an angular grille – with honeycomb design – that will become the company’s design signature.  

The Santa Fe is set to hit the showrooms in Q3 2018. As we’ve already seen them in action both in Europe and Korea, expect an early reveal, perhaps as soon as early in the New Year.

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By Keith Adams

Devout classic Citroen enthusiast, walking car encyclopedia, and long-time contributor to CAR