Hyundai Santa Fe

A smart seven-seater 4x4 with plenty of space

7.9
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 8 reviews
  • Stylish
  • High equipment levels
  • Relaxed drive
  • Not that cheap
  • Cheap plastics still prevail
  • Not much else...
 

£31,850 - £38,945 Price range

 

5 - 7 Seats

 

42 - 47 MPG

Review

The Hyundai Santa Fe is a seven-seater SUV that has good equipment levels and a long warranty. It’s closest rivals are the Nissan X-Trail, the Kia Sorento and the Honda CR-V.

Prices start from £31,850 and if you buy your new Santa Fe using carwow you can save £6,780 on average.

Gone are the old low quality interiors that Hyundai was known for and sitting in the Santa Fe you can easily see the German influence (where the car was designed) – it’s very stylish and the materials used are classes above the cheap plastics found in the old Santa Fe. Passenger and luggage room is also impressive and is on par with the best in class. The interior probably is the biggest selling point of the Santa Fe.

Hyundai has come a long way from the wallowing and leaning SUVs it used to make. The Santa Fe has a special suspension set-up for UK roads and as a result it rides nearly as well as some premium rivals and a bit better than some. The light steering might not suit everyone, but it makes urban driving with such a bulky car that bit easier. The four-wheel-drive isn’t bad either – it comes with a locking differential that helps a lot when off roading.

There is only one engine on offer and it’s not a bad one. Being a diesel it comes with loads of pulling power and will consume less fuel than a petrol. There is the inherent diesel rattle at low speeds, but it becomes very quiet at motorway speeds.

There are three trim levels to choose from – SE, Premium and Premium SE. The base model is generously equipped with air-conditioning, parking sensors, cruise control, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and Bluetooth phone connectivity. 

Why not check out the colours available using our Hyundai Santa Fe colours guide and see if it offers enough interior space with our Hyundai Santa Fe dimensions guide.

Cheapest to buy: 2.2-litre SE manual diesel

Cheapest to run: 2.2-litre SE manual diesel

Fastest model: 2.2-litre SE Auto diesel

Most popular: 2.2-litre Premium Auto diesel

One of the latest Santa Fe’s best aspects is its interior. It’s rated highly for practicality, styling and space, while quality has also taken a step up from its slightly cheap-feeling predecessor. The only real issue, mentioned by a few testers, is a dashboard festooned with too many buttons.

Hyundai Santa Fe passenger space

For £1,200 extra, buyers can opt for a seven-seat version, not dissimilar to its Kia Sorento cousin. Like the Kia, rear row space is a little tight, though the middle row can slide fore and aft to give rear-seat passengers a little more room. Space for everyone else is excellent.

Hyundai Santa Fe boot space

The Santa Fe has a huge boot – 585 litres with the middle seats up, 1,680 litres with them down. For comparison, a Nissan X-Trail has a smaller 550-litre boot with the seats up, but when you fold them it can hold more than the Santa Fe – 1,982 litres in fact.

Hyundai has had a good go at tuning the Santa Fe for UK roads, with a specific suspension set up for right-hand drive models, and by and large it seems to have worked. Testers say the ride is soft and compliant and though the LHD cars that featured in early tests could wobble and wallow a little bit on bumpy roads, that seems to have been tweaked out of the UK cars.

It doesn’t lean too much in the corners either, while there’s decent grip for a car of this size. Four-wheel drive provides plenty of traction too, even on the rough stuff – a differential lock helps here. The steering is a little light and inert, but this may not be much of an issue for buyers.

All fairly simple here – there’s just one engine, and it’s not a bad one at that. A 2.2 CRDi four-cylinder turbodiesel sits under the nose, producing 194hp and a healthy 322Ib ft of torque. That’s easily enough to propel the Santa Fe down the road with some conviction, with up to 46.3 mpg combined fuel economy from the manual 4×4 versions and another few miles per gallon from two-wheel drive models.

Testers like the strong engine, and while a few note some rattles and rumbles at low speed, the engine smoothes out once you’re underway and remains muted at motorway speeds. Two gearbox choices are available – both six-speed, one auto and one manual. The former suits the engine’s easy-going gait but does knock a few mpg off the combined figure. The manual is light and easy to use, and the best for drivers wishing to squeeze the most from their fuel.

Hyundai and Kia share the same 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine you'll find in the Santa Fe, and its strengths and weaknesses apply as much here as they do in the Sorento.

Strengths include its physical urge, with 194 horsepower at the top end and a useful 322 lb-ft of torque available lower down. The manual gearbox is easy to use and more economical, but several testers like the relaxed auto - describing it as "slick-shifting" and "predictable". It does cut down on fuel economy and increases CO2 though, so each 'box has its merits.

The engine itself is largely refined - some reviewers note a bit of vibration here and there and some grumbles under hard acceleration, but it settles down at speed and generally remains muted. At its most economical you may achieve 46.3 mpg, while auto cars drag this down to 41.5 mpg.

Everything you've read before about the 2.2 CRDi still applies here. It's still respectably refined and torquey, with the same 194-horsepower output as the four-wheel drive versions.

With only two driven wheels though, it's also more economical - 47.9 mpg combined. And perhaps most importantly of all for those who need the space but not the extra traction, it's cheaper to buy. If that's a priority for you, then the 2WD car is well worth getting.

These are general, non engine-specific reviews of the Hyundai Santa Fe. They give a good idea of what the car is like overall.

The current generation of Santa Fe was tested in 2012 and netted the full five stars in what was a very impressive performance. Overall it was rated as the safest in EuroNCAP‘s ‘Large Off Road 4×4′ category for 2012.

The only blot on the copybook came in the form of pedestrian safety, despite all models coming with a pop-up bonnet that’s supposed to shield unlucky humans from the hard internals that lie beneath.

All Santa Fes come with seven airbags, stability control, and ABS brakes, but even top-of-the-range models to without automatic emergency braking. Something that’s a bit of an omission at this price.

 

With just three trim levels to choose from, it’s easy to pick the Santa Fe that fits your needs best and none are poorly equipped.

Hyundai Santa Fe Style

If you are just looking for a cheap seven seater SUV, then Style trim should have all the equipment you’ll need. It comes with massive 18-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear windows and LED daytime running lights that give the exterior a suitable amount of bling. The equipment list is also long, but highlights include automatic headlights, a Bluetooth phone connection, air-conditioning and cruise control.

Hyundai Santa Fe Premium

Premium models give… You guessed it – a more premium feel inside, thanks to leather seats and a touchscreen sat-nav system. You’ll also notice some nice touches over the basic Style model including a chrome radiator grille and lights under the wing mirrors that illuminate puddles.

Hyundai Santa Fe Premium SE

Right at the top of the range is Premium SE trim. It’s the nicest model of all inside thanks to its glass roof that fills the interior with light and a driver’s seat that’s electrically adjustable. Additional kit includes items such as front parking sensors, handy keyless entry and powerful xenon headlights.

Conclusion

Hyundai has really hit the mark with the latest Santa Fe. It’s competitive in most important areas and falls down in very few. Critics rate it highly and several recommend it over rivals, which is all you really need to know. There’s space, plenty of kit and relatively low running costs – it’s a great 4×4 choice.

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