Hyundai is hoping its new, fifth-generation Santa Fe will resonate better with Australian buyers than previous generations.

    “Santa Fe has never really met expectations,” said Bill Thomas, general manager of corporate affairs at Hyundai Australia.

    “We look at that vehicle, we know it’s good, we know it’s good against the competition, it’s such a capable vehicle in all sorts of ways, but I think it would be fair to say we’ve never really been satisfied with sales levels of that car… current or historically.

    “All car companies would always say they want to sell more cars, but with Santa Fe in particular we’ve never been particularly satisfied with its performance.”

    Mr Thomas said supply has been the issue with the Santa Fe “for some time”.

    The company hasn’t said what supply of the new model will look like when it arrives here in the second quarter of 2024, initially in all-wheel drive hybrid guise.

    With the Santa Fe’s outgoing fourth generation, the Kia Sorento overtook it in the sales race – something that has also occurred in markets such as South Korea and Europe.

    After narrowly fending off the Sorento in 2020 (4615 deliveries vs 4547), the Kia edged past the Hyundai in 2021 (5126 vs 5048).

    In 2022, the Sorento widened the gap, with Kia delivering 7889 examples against just 4595 Santa Fes.

    It’s not necessarily the stronger lure of the Kia has impacted Santa Fe sales; Hyundai introduced the larger Palisade late in 2020 and it has proved almost as popular as the Santa Fe.

    Kia has no rival for the large crossover here, as its Telluride – closely related to the Palisade – is built only in left-hand drive.

    While Sorento sales continue to grow, the Santa Fe has already beaten its sales tally from last year in 2023 with two months left to go.

    Hyundai has sold 5245 examples, up 46.4 per cent on the same period last year – one of the largest percentage increases in its segment.

    While that’s still below the Sorento (7685 sales, up 37.9 per cent), it has put some distance between it and the pricier Palisade (3138 sales, down 8.2 per cent).

    All the Korean SUVs continue to be outsold by the Toyota Kluger (9142 sales, down 16.8 per cent).

    The Sorento overtaking the Santa Fe is also a reflection of how Hyundai and Kia are performing in Australia at a brand level.

    2022 was the first year the Kia brand outsold Hyundai in Australia, with 78,330 sales for the former and 73,345 sales for the latter.

    It’s proving to be a tighter race this year. While Kia has prevailed over Hyundai some months, to the end of October it’s just 1192 units ahead.

    MORE: Everything Hyundai Santa Fe
    MORE: Hybrid-first rollout for bold new Hyundai Santa Fe

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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