I think the lack of new model Santa Fe's on the road in OZ is more about brand loyalty and product recognition, although I did have to wait 2 months to have my manual SX model imported. Hyundai came from a very low rating and it takes time for perceptions to change. The fact that Hyundai knocked off Lexus for #1 customer satisfaction in the USA (2006) should start the ball rolling. Other brands such as Subaru had a similiar beginning and now look at their quality of offering.
My Santa Fe build quality appears outstanding. Although I have only done 7000k I cannot fault any aspect. I know this has not been the case with previous Ford and GM vehicles that I have owned and used. Just read the magazine reviews on this vehicle and you will see that those in the industry agree (i.e. "Overlander 4WD" magazine Feb.07 Australia)
I have just had my 30 000k service and still can't fault this car. Not so much as a squeak or rattle. I've never driven a car, Japanese or Australian/American that I can say the same about. As a first time Hyundai buyer, I have to say they've impressed me no end.
I have had an opportunity to run the car on the beach and over rough terrain, and it was very impressive for a soft roader. Obviously it lacks a low ratio transfer case, and for take offs in very soft sand or for crawling over ruts and gullies, perhaps the auto gear box would be the way to go. My car is manual.
The manual gear box is however very easy to live with in every day driving conditions, and is amazingly good in fuel economy. I can get low 5 litres per 100k when cruising, and never go over 8 litres per 100k, even in heavy traffic driving.
I'll still be driving this at 200 000 kms, with its 8 year dealer extended warranty. So watch this space if problems arise.