Hyundai's Santa Fe celebrates 20 years

Hyundai, Hyundai Santa Fe -

Hyundai's Santa Fe celebrates 20 years

  • Unveiled to the world in 2000, Hyundai’s first SUV is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
  • On sale in Australia since late 2000, the Santa Fe launch marked a milestone in the history of Hyundai – now in its fourth generation
  • Over 5 million Santa Fe SUVs sold globally


In the year 2000 Hyundai Motor introduced its first-generation Santa Fe, making the company one of the pioneers in the SUV market.

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Santa Fe has become an icon for the brand, and Hyundai is taking a look back at how its first SUV has evolved over the years.

Having entered dealerships in 2000, Santa Fe is one of Hyundai’s longest-running models in Australia. Now in its fourth generation, the Santa Fe has undergone significant evolution in its design, safety and technology over the years, often leading the way as a flagship for new features. Later this year, Hyundai will launch an enhanced version of the current generation incorporating major design updates.

Following its launch two decades years ago, Santa Fe quickly became one of Hyundai’s most popular models. Named after a city in the South Western U.S., it was the company’s first SUV, and played an important role in establishing Hyundai in the SUV segment.

Unusually for a Hyundai model, the Santa Fe has its own logo showing the model name and a sun, while its name has been carried over to future generations, continuing its heritage. Over the past 20 years, Hyundai has sold more than 5,260,000 units of Santa Fe globally.

“The Santa Fe was Hyundai’s first SUV, and it is one of our longest-running model lines, making it a key model not only globally, but also in Australia,” says Jun Heo, CEO Hyundai Motor Company Australia. “For Hyundai it is an automotive icon which continues to evolve in terms of design, technology, roominess and comfort. With this latest evolution, Santa Fe maintains its status as a flagship model in our broad SUV portfolio, and further underlines our heritage in SUVs while also moving the game forward with its innovation.”


First-generation Santa Fe (2000-2006): the original best-seller

Hyundai first introduced the Santa Fe to Australians in late 2020. While subsequent generations became progressively premium over time, the very first Santa Fe was practical and appreciated for its functionality and reliability. The first generation featured a rugged, yet refined look and was substantially longer and wider than many of its rivals in the segment, emphasising its practicality for off-road driving. The spacious interior offered enough room for up to five passengers, as well as ample cargo space. Meanwhile, its convenience features, which included air conditioning, a CD player, as well as electric windows, mirrors and a sunroof, were comprehensive for the time.

Second-generation Santa Fe (2006-2012): more power, more space, and an updated safety system

The second-generation Santa Fe featured a new 2.2-litre diesel-powered engine and an updated 2.7-litre petrol V6 while offering significantly improved handling and sportier engines to equip customers for a range of driving and weather conditions. The design was significantly changed both inside and outside the vehicle. It also offered more space than before, with the option of adding a third row of seats now available, extending the five-seater to a seven-seater.

Third-generation Santa Fe (2012-2018): enhanced safety and improved connectivity

The third-generation Santa Fe was a big step forward for Hyundai, as it offered even greater comfort and quality, re-tuned engines and improved efficiency. Available as both a sporty five-seater and a version with a long wheelbase offering three rows of seats for six or seven passengers, this generation offered a similar interior look, fully geared towards passenger comfort and functionality, with improvements such as an optional multifunction eight-inch touchscreen and enhanced voice recognition commands.

Fourth-generation Santa Fe (2018-present): SmartSense safety features and a bold new design

in 2018 Hyundai introduced the fourth-generation Santa Fe, equipped with advanced technology, best-in-class safety features, exceptional roominess, and a prestigious appearance.


18 years after the introduction of the first-generation model, this powerful, elegant SUV has evolved to become Hyundai’s premium flagship model in Australia. The continuing improvements the Santa Fe has undergone over the past two decades demonstrate Hyundai’s commitment to developing quality products with the latest features for its customers.