When I told the fine people at Hyundai that I was planning on taking my family to Whakapapa to throw snowballs, they suggested I take the new Santa Fe up the mountain to see how it coped – very well is the answer (You can book a test drive of your own here). The weather had turned from the initially forecasted clear skies and sun to overcast and chance of snow – as it turned out snow heavily was what it did and we couldn’t have been happier.
It was my son’s first experience on the slopes and rather than get him straight into ski or snowboarding lessons I figured that an afternoon of sledging and building snowmen was a far better way to introduce him to the white stuff.
The wet roads leading up to the mountain looked slippery with a hint of ice so the Santa Fe’s 4WD was certainly a great comfort and as I started to climb the hill and look down, knowing that the SUV was filled with safety features (downhill assist, electronic stability control and 7 airbags to name but a few) was equally reassuring. The 2.2L diesel engine that had managed to get around the mid 7l’s/100k’s on the trip down didn’t skip a beat as it dragged 3 adults (we took our outstanding photographer for a day out of his studio), a child and way too much gear for this trip, up the winding incline.
The crystal clear image from the reversing camera helped me fit the Santa Fe snuggly into one of the carpark slots thankfully near the top of the hill, and once we were suitably wrapped up it was off to the slopes (ok nappy valley) for some true family bonding. Tobogganing down the uneven ruts two up on a sledge was hilarious, especially rolling off into the snow at the end – the best way we found to stop – but dragging a child laden sled back up the hill to start again my heart and lungs could have done without. The snowball fights and snowman building was side splitting and I still have no idea where my wife got the carrot from!
After a hot chocolate it was back to the Santa Fe for the journey back to the hotel. The SUV was covered in snow and the 1 degree icy cold was already causing some the cars to get stuck but there were no issues as far as we were concerned. With the heaters on full (including the seats – front and back), I slipped it into gear and headed confidently down the slushy hill.
Having spent some time in the new Tucson a few weeks ago I was comfortable in the knowledge that this 7 seater SUV would cope with all the conditions that central NZ would throw at it but it’s always good to be proved right – especially when your family’s safety is at stake. Now I have a son that can’t wait to get back to the snow, maybe next time I’ll throw some ski’s on his feet, that should annoy him – ahh; gotta love family time.
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