The Hyundai’s more comfortable than most seven-seat SUVs and it’s a breeze to drive but you can’t get it with a petrol engine or any particularly advanced safety tech
All Hyundai Santa Fes come with a 2.2-litre diesel engine and four-wheel drive.
This 200hp diesel engine is easily powerful enough to push the Santa Fe along at motorway speeds and helps it tackle steep hills with seven people on board without breaking a sweat. It’ll accelerate from 0-62mph around half a second faster than the fastest X-Trail (in nine seconds flat) but it does start to grumble quite loudly if you accelerate hard on a motorway slip road.
There’s very little choice when it comes to picking your Santa Fe – there’s only one engine and all cars get four-wheel drive. It’s a good – if slightly dull – combination
It’s reasonably quiet around town and on the motorway though, and Hyundai claims it’ll return 46.3mpg. In real-world conditions, however, you can expect it to manage around 35mpg.
Pick the optional automatic gearbox instead of a manual if you want to give your left leg a rest on long journeys or in heavy stop-start traffic. It changes gear relatively smoothly but it’ll take a 4mpg-sized bite out of the Santa Fe’s fuel economy and costs an extra £2,500.
The Hyundai’s raised seating position gives you an excellent view out over the road ahead. The side windows are nice and large and the pillars between the doors and the windscreen are quite thin so they don’t create any awkward blindspots at junctions.
Unfortunately, the windows behind the back doors are quite small and the rear windscreen doesn’t give you a particularly good view out either. Thankfully, all Santa Fe models come with rear parking sensors and a reversing camera as standard while high-spec Premium SE cars get a self-parking system that’ll steer you into parallel and bay spaces automatically.
The Santa Fe drives smoothly and does a good job of softening large bumps and potholes. This is partly down to the rear air suspension you get as standard on seven-seat versions. It’s similar to the system you’d find on a Mercedes E-Class Estate and separates your backside from the road with a cushion of pressurised air – it also keeps the car level when it’s carrying heavy loads.
At motorway speeds, the Hyundai’s even more comfortable and it’s pretty quiet, besides some wind whistling around the wing mirrors and a touch of tyre noise. It’s even more relaxing to travel in on long journeys than the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
On twisty country roads the Santa Fe’s soft suspension means it leans more noticeably than the Nissan X-Trail and its very light steering can feel vague and unresponsive. Don’t let this put you off because the Santa Fe’s tremendously easy to drive – especially if you pick one with an automatic gearbox. It changes gears quickly and smoothly and works in tandem with the standard-fit cruise control system to take the stress out of long journeys.
Euro NCAP awarded the Santa Fe a five-star safety rating back in 2012. The tests have been made much stricter since then however, so cars such as the Skoda Kodiaq (that scored five stars in 2017) will provide more protection in a crash.
For a little extra peace of mind, range-topping Premium SE cars come with lane-departure warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert that’ll warn you if there’s a car approaching before you pull out of a parking space. You can even get automatic emergency braking that’ll stop the car itself if it senses an obstacle ahead as part of the optional £1,500 Convenience Pack or in top-spec Endurance Edition models.