The Hyundai Santa Fe is a roomy SUV that comes with seven seats and lots of equipment as standard but alternatives have bigger boots and lots more engines to choose from
The Hyundai Santa Fe is a comfortable and spacious seven-seat SUV that makes a well-equipped and easy-to-drive alternative to the likes of the Skoda Kodiaq and VW Tiguan Allspace.
Unlike these cars, however, the Hyundai Santa Fe comes with seven seats as standard and there’s even room in the rearmost seats for two adults to get reasonably comfortable on short journeys. The Santa Fe’s middle seats slide forwards to give your rear-seat passengers some extra legroom and there’s a handy button that’ll flip the seats forwards automatically so people in the back can climb in and out more easily.
Space in the second row is generous, too, with enough head and legroom to carry three adults side-by-side. In the driver’s seat, you’re treated to plenty of space and lots of seat adjustment to help you get comfortable, including adjustable lumbar support to reduce back-ache on long stints behind the wheel.
The Hyundai Santa Fe interior also benefits from a smart design that’s leagues ahead of the old car’s drab, cheap-feeling cabin. Plenty of soft-touch materials and faux-leather trims make it feel pretty plush, if not quite as fancy as the VW and Skoda, and you get lots of equipment as standard.
Chief among which is the touchscreen infotainment system that comes with smartphone mirroring as standard. Mid-range cars and above get sat-nav, too, and top-spec cars even get a digital driver’s display, instead of conventional dials, and a head-up-display. Unfortunately, all this high-tech kit isn’t quite as easy to use as the similar systems in a Kodiaq or Tiguan Allspace.
Unfortunately, the same can be said of the Hyundai’s boot. There’s just enough space for a weekly shop but fold the third row down and you have significantly less space to play with than in either the Skoda or VW. It’s the same story with the middle and rearmost rows folded down, but at least the flat loadbay means you can easily load some heavy or oddly-shaped items.
As if the Santa Fe’s imposing size wasn’t enough to make it stand out, Hyundai’s designers have given a seriously imposing grille and masses of eye-catching chrome details
If you do plan to regularly carry very heavy luggage, you’ll be pleased to know the Santa Fe’s 2.2-litre diesel engine is plenty perky enough to haul you around without feeling strained. Sure, it’s not the fastest SUV on sale and alternatives are more fuel efficient, but the Hyundai Santa Fe is impressively quiet on the motorway.
It’s even more relaxing to drive if you go for a version with an eight-speed automatic instead of the standard manual. It’s smoother than the auto ‘boxes you get in most alternatives and gives your left leg a rest in heavy traffic.
Also helping you rest easy are the Hyundai’s numerous standard safety features that should help it score highly when it’s crash-tested by Euro NCAP. So, if it’s a safe, spacious and comfortable SUV you’re looking for the Hyundai Santa Fe makes a great choice, but other slightly less well-equipped alternatives do have bigger boots and a wider range of engines to choose from.
If you want some more in-depth information on the Santa Fe, look through the interior, practicality, driving and specifications sections of our review over the following pages. And, if you want to see what kind of saving you can expect on a Santa Fe, click through to our deals page.