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A grown-up Christmas wish granted |


A grown-up Christmas wish granted

MISS TECH - Kathy Moran - The Philippine Star

If ever I’d live in an SUV for a day — that is, locked up inside for 24 hours — I would pick the Hyundai Grand Santa Fe. This beauty is simply comfort, luxury and lots-of-space-for-stretching all rolled into one.

The way the Hyundai Grand Santa Fe SUV felt (from the minute I entered the cockpit to the 30 or more minutes it took just to recline all the seats and even take a seat on the passenger row) was so relaxing!

This is where the philosophy of Hyundai in designing its Grand Santa Fe comes in.  After all, Hyundai believes that with the Grand Santa Fe, a car becomes a “life space” where every member of the family can relax and enjoy the drive. Applying its signature design philosophy, Fluidic Sculpture, Hyundai designed its first grand family SUV, the Grand Santa Fe.  Suddenly, mobility became a work of art.

Matter of fact, with the Grand Santa Fe, Hyundai has coined a term for art-meets-technology or what it calls “Hyundai Artynology.” The Korean company believes that this expression of refined and dynamic styling captures the powerful movement and emotion from all things fluidic and artistic.

And, indeed, I must agree. After all, as I sat and looked at the details of the Grand Santa Fe from the cockpit and then as a passenger, I noticed that no detail was overlooked. 

The body of the Grand Santa Fe is bigger and extends by 225 millimeters to offer more leg room and passenger space. The interiors boast leather seats, two-tone interior appointments, and a driver space fitted with the latest in smart technology for play as well as for serious piloting.

In the second row, the six-seat configuration features large captain seats that you can slide and recline. Two can easily fit in the best seats of the house. In addition, the driver’s seat features a built-in IMS or Integrated Memory Seat function that automatically recalls seat and side mirror positions. To top off a fully customized grand drive, the Grand Santa Fe’s panoramic sunroof got some royal treatment, too. It now offers a wider, seamless view of the open skies. Unlike conventional sunroofs, the center beam was eliminated and now uses motor-driven roller blinds that open up with ease for a smoother, more dramatic effect. 

Little wonder why the Hyundai Grand Santa Fe received the 2013 Good Design Award from The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. 

Grand Expectations

Before I started the engine of the Grand Santa Fe, I took one more look at its exteriors. The Grand Santa Fe sports a new front design with refreshed styling for the radiator grille, fog lamp, and front bumper. The rear is just as eye-catching with new LED rear combination lamps, rear garnish, and dual muffler-type exhaust pipes. Nineteen-inch alloy wheels amp up its grander, sportier vibe.

‘Nuff of the outside, I whispered to myself. It was time to get this ride on the road.

Under the hood is a V6 engine, which provides above-average acceleration and towing capacity. All-wheel drive is available for those who require more traction. 

Since I was fortunate to have the Grand Santa Fe over the Christmas holidays, it was time to take this SUV out of town.

Destination: Baguio.

Yes, I was going solo on this drive — and this was just how I wanted it be.

Of course, I had my favorite drive companion with me — Vodka, my little Bichon Frise. She is quiet, sleeps through most of any drives, doesn’t demand much attention — and lets me focus on the drive.

With Vodka seated in the back row in her doggie seat — we were drive-ready. Since it was Dec. 26 and the roads leading out of Metro Manila were traffic-free, I had planned a round trip to Baguio — making it there in time for a quick lunch and then driving back.

A Christmas gift to myself: There is nothing more rewarding than being behind the wheel of a great SUV and having time to myself. 

 As I reached NLEX, I began to feel how easy it was to be the master of the road on Grand Santa Fe.

Let me backtrack a bit.  I started this SUV with a push of a button. And then from there on in, it was so easy to take control of the steering wheel with the Flex Steer function that offers three modes of steering: Normal for on-road and occasional off-road, Comfort for city drives, and Sport for challenging terrain.

O course, not to go unnoticed is how the Audio and Bluetooth controls are fitted into the steering wheel. This way, I was able to stay in control of the sound system without having to fumble for the dials and buttons.

Let me add that I also liked that the driver information is illuminated in signature Hyundai blue inside a sophisticated instrument panel. A 4.3-inch TFT LCD screen and a rearview camera make for smart parking as a monitor shows you the vehicle’s position while you park or back up.

NLEX, TPLEX and beyond

One of the hardest things for a driver like me to do is to stay within the speed limits — moreso when one is behind the wheel of such a powerful SUV.  After all, the Grand Santa Fe is loaded with a 2.2-liter CRDi eVGT engine. Churning top power output of 197 ps at 3,800 rpm, it gets up to speed effortlessly down long stretches of open road, while its maximum torque of 44.5 kg-m at 1,800-2,500 rpm provides that much-needed pulling power to undertake uphill and even more demanding drives.

But, stay within the speed limits I did.

Vodka and I made it down the NLEX and onto the TPLEX in a little under two hours. We were on Kennon Road faster than I expected.

I took the opportunity to take a break and let Vodka stretch her little legs.

After the five-minute stop, I was more than ready to drive.

We made it to Baguio in less than four hours. The City of Pines was alive and the traffic was building up.  I opted to stop at a pancake place, because I hadn’t had breakfast yet. I ordered my meal and then joined Vodka as we sat on the oh-so-comfy passenger seats.

Meal over. It was time to head for home because I wanted to get back before dark.

The drive back to Manila was easy and breezy as there was no heavy traffic along the way.

A holiday treat I will remember for many Christmases to come: having a grand time driving a Grand Santa Fe!

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