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Hyundai crosses Antarctica in gnarly off-road Santa Fe

If only it were a trim offered at dealerships.


Antarctica is an unforgiving place. You might not assume that a production car could survive such conditions, but Hyundai proved it possible.

Last December, Hyundai teamed up with Patrick Bergel, a tech entrepreneur and the great-grandson of Sir Ernest Shackleton, to drive across the Antarctic. It was done to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Shackleton's trans-Antarctic journey.

I would totally rock this. Wouldn't you?


Okay, maybe it's not exactly a "production" car. While this is a brand new, largely unmolested Santa Fe, some changes had to be made to ensure it could handle a trip across Antarctica. Not only is it lifted and fitted with low-pressure tires for snow driving, it also features an engine block heater (for better cold starts) and some cool fender flares.

Perhaps the most interesting modification, though, is its conversion to run on jet fuel. That may sound weird, but when it's the only fuel available out there, it's all that Hyundai could really do.

The Santa Fe's trek lasted nearly 4,000 miles, from Union Camp in Ellsworth Land to McMurdo and back again. It took almost a month to traverse that distance, in temperatures as low as -18 degrees Fahrenheit. Since endurance mattered more than outright speed, the car only averaged about 17 mph the whole trip, but surviving to tell the tale was probably a worthy trade-off.

It is not advised that you try this at home.