Hyundai Santa Fe Review & Prices
The Hyundai Santa Fe is a large seven-seat family car that comes with a decent amount of equipment, but alternatives are more practical and have a wider range of engines
What's not so good
Find out more about the Hyundai Santa Fe
The Hyundai Santa Fe is a large family SUV that comes with plenty of equipment and (crucially for some) seven seats as standard. It also looks pretty eye-catching for a practical, high-riding family car. You certainly won’t mistake it for a hum-drum VW Tiguan Allspace or Kia Sorento in the school car park.
Even better is the fact that all of the Hyundai Santa Fe’s flashy trims – including the shiny roof rails and chrome grille frame – come as standard, so it looks just as good in Premium guise as it does in range-topping Ultimate trim.
The same isn’t quite true of the Hyundai Santa Fe’s cabin, but it still looks pretty slick and comes with lots of soft-touch plastics in places you’ll touch regularly. Nicely laid-out buttons and intuitive controls make it all dead easy to use and every model comes with a good-sized touchscreen with built-in smartphone mirroring.
You also get loads of electric seat adjustment as standard, including all-important lumbar support to help prevent backache on long drives. Passengers won’t feel hard-done-by either, thanks to the Hyundai Santa Fe’s roomy cabin and sliding middle row with reclining seatbacks.
Even adults will be comfortable in the rearmost seats – for short journeys at least – and there’s still space left in the boot for a couple of small suitcases. Of course, if you need to carry more luggage than passengers, you can flip the back seats down and carry plenty more, or you can go the whole hog and fold down all but the front seats to open up a van-like load bay that’s a doddle to load.
Unlike most large SUVs, the Hyundai Santa Fe comes with seven seats as standard. The two third-row seats are big enough for adults, too - albeit only just!
Go back a couple of years or so and Hyundai offered just one engine in the Santa Fe – a 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel. It’s great if you plan to pull lots of people and heavy luggage, but it isn’t the most economical engine out there – especially if you do lots of city driving.
Step forward, the Santa Fe plug-in hybrid. This is the model to go for if you do a lot of miles around town and can recharge at home. There’s also a regular hybrid with batteries that are topped up while the car is decelerating. It’s cheaper than the plug-in but doesn’t have the plug-in’s ability to travel up to 36 miles on electricity alone.
If you spend a lot of time on the motorway, the comfortable and quiet Hyundai Santa Fe makes a good travelling companion. All models have an automatic gearbox, with eight speeds for the diesel and six for the hybrids. Whichever engine and ’box you pick, you can rest easy knowing that every model comes with a range of active safety kit as standard to keep you safe.
If you’re looking for a practical seven-seater that’s also rather good fun to drive on a twisty country road, you’d be better off with a SEAT Tarraco, but if you’d rather have a comfortable motorway cruiser with a well-equipped cabin that’s just about spacious enough for seven adults, then the Hyundai Santa Fe is well worth considering.
To find out how much you could save on a Hyundai Santa Fe when buying through carwow, check out our latest Hyundai Santa Fe deals, or browse an extensive stock of used Santa Fe models from our network of trusted dealers. You can also take a look at other used Hyundai cars, and carwow can even help sell your current car when the time comes.
The Hyundai Santa Fe has a RRP range of £43,240 to £51,680. Monthly payments start at £465. The price of a used Hyundai Santa Fe on Carwow starts at £19,571.
The Santa Fe is not a cheap car, but then you do get a lot for your money in terms of space and standard equipment. So the starting price of just over £41,000 is pretty fair, especially if you compare the Hyundai with a prestige-badged SUV of similar size. Take the BMW X3, which starts from almost £5000 more but doesn’t have seven seats.
There are two spec levels, Premium and Ultimate. It’s a bit unfair to think of Premium as entry-level spec, as it’s pretty luxurious in its own right and saves over £3000 compared with the Ultimate.
The regular two-wheel-drive hybrid is the most affordable engine option, with the diesel 4x4 costing almost £1000 more. There’s quite a jump up to the plug-in hybrid, with a list price of almost £47,000.
A comfortable companion for longer trips, but the Hyundai Santa Fe isn't the most fun SUV to take down a twisty road
You sit up high in the Santa Fe which gives a good view out. The view over your shoulder could be better, especially if you have passengers in all three rows, but a rear-view camera is standard as well as front and rear parking sensors. Ultimate models are upgraded to a surround-view camera system, so there’s really no excuse for kerbing those expensive-looking alloys.
There’s no manual gearbox any more, so whichever model you pick you can leave the auto to take the strain out of stop-start traffic.
All three engines work well enough around town, but if you want to go a reasonable distance on electric power and have somewhere at home to charge then take a look at the plug-in hybrid. It will go up to 36 miles on electricity alone.
The regular hybrid can also ghost through stop-start traffic, but it won’t be long before the petrol engine is needed, so it’s not as clean in town driving as the plug-in model.
Although it’s a very big car, the Santa Fe has a reasonable turning circle so it doesn’t feel unwieldy.
On the motorway
The Santa Fe is right at home on the motorway. It’s a quiet and comfortable car for long drives.
Don’t dismiss the diesel if you cover a lot of miles. While diesel power isn’t as popular as it used to be, it still has its place if you cover long distances or need to tow a trailer or caravan. We’d be amazed if it wasn’t the most economical of the three engines on a long drive.
Whether you choose the diesel or one of the hybrids, engine noise stays in the background once up to a cruise, although the diesel can sound a bit gruff as you accelerate on a motorway sliproad.
On a twisty road
What can we say about the way the Santa Fe drives on a country road? It doesn’t drive like a sports car, but that’s hardly surprising. It doesn’t feel out of its depth either.
You want a fun SUV? Buy a BMW X3. If your priorities lie elsewhere, and a competent drive on a twisty road is enough, the Hyundai is fine. It grips well and keeps body lean to sensible levels, and the steering is light but accurate.
Every version has enough power to accelerate briskly between corners , but no version of the Santa Fe is going to encourage you to take the long way home just for the hell of it.
The Santa Fe is big, roomy and clever, but some of the storage in the front isn't as useful as it could be
You sit up high in the Santa Fe – no surprise there, this is an SUV after all. It’s a really comfortable seating position that’s supportive on long drives.
Whichever spec you choose, the steering wheel adjusts for both reach and height. The driver’s seat adjusts electrically, and lumbar support is included, while the seat in top-spec models will remember your seating position.
Both trims have heated seats, but Ultimate goes one better with ventilated seats to cool you down on a hot day.
The door bins are an odd shape, but large enough for a big bottle of water. There’s more storage under the central armrest.
Inside the glovebox you’ll find handbooks for the car and the infotainment, which doesn’t leave a lot of space for anything else. A pair of gloves should fit if you feel like being literal. As well as a light so you can see what’s inside, the glovebox has a cooling function so it’s the place to stash a bar of chocolate if you don’t want it to melt in the sun.
There are cupholders between the front seats for the driver and front-seat passenger. All told, there’s plenty of storage in the front of the cabin and the driving position will keep people of all shapes and sizes comfortable for mile after mile.
Space in the back seats
Every model in today’s Santa Fe range comes with seven seats. Even the third row is roomy enough for adults at a pinch.
It helps that the middle row slides back and forth on runners, so if the passengers are feeling generous they can trade some of their legroom to give more space for those in the back.
Giving away a few centimetres is no great hardship, as there’s plenty of head and legroom in the middle row to start with, and the flat floor and wide cabin mean there’s space for three to sit on the middle bench in comfort. If anyone wants a nap the middle seats recline.
There are ISOFIX child seat mounts on the two outer seats in the middle row, as you’d expect. A nice surprise is the ISOFIX mounting points on the front passenger seat as well.
With all seven seats in place, there’s enough room for lots of shopping bags, but not enough room for a fortnight’s holiday luggage. That’s more an observation than a criticism, as you can say the same of most seven-seaters.
Lower the third row and there’s a lot of space – 571 litres litres, in fact. There’s no lip to lift heavy items over and the entrance is nice and wide. If you need to load up above the level of the parcel shelf there’s space to store it under the boot floor.
This is usefully big, but it does mean that the Santa Fe lags behind the leaders of the seven-seat boot capacity championship. The Skoda Kodiaq has 630 litres, but even that is dwarfed by the Peugeot 5008's 780 litres.
With the second row folded away there’s enough room to moonlight as a removals van, but again, at 1,625 litres it's some way behind the circa-2,000 litres you get in the Peugeot and Skoda.
The Santa Fe’s boot is clever as well as big. There are luggage hooks and a luggage net, and remote opening of the tailgate so it will open even if your hands are full.
The interior design is pleasant enough, but if you're cross-shopping with the likes of Audi and BMW, the Hyundai won't feel quite as posh
Step inside the Santa Fe, and we expect you’ll be impressed by the look and feel of the cabin. It’s a smart and modern design, perhaps a bit busy compared with the cabin of a Volvo XC60, but in many ways that helps with ease of use.
If it’s been a few years since you sat inside a Hyundai, forget any thought about this being a budget brand. Those days are long gone, and the cabin is solidly put together from high quality materials. It’s only when you start to notice the harder plastics on the lower doors that you pick up on the difference between the Hyundai and the equivalent Audi, BMW or Mercedes. The gap is a lot smaller than it used to be, but it’s still there.
You can narrow the gap further by choosing the Luxury Pack, which is only available on the top-spec Ultimate model. This adds an artificial leather wrap to the dashboard, brushed aluminium accents to the centre console, light grey Nappa leather upholstery, and a suede headlining.
Both Premium and Ultimate spec cars come with the same 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment display. It sits proud of the dash, as if someone has balanced a tablet on top of the centre console. While that may look a bit odd to some eyes, it does mean it’s easy to look at without taking your eyes far from the road.
The screen is responsive and the menus are logical and straightforward to navigate. Hyundai hasn’t tried to cram every last control and function into obscure sub-menus – there are still plenty of buttons below the screen for adjusting the temperature or changing the volume on the stereo.
Go for the high-spec Ultimate model and you also get a bright and clear head-up display that projects key information directly into the driver’s line of sight. It’s a great feature that lets you check your speed or the next sat nav instruction without being distracted.
For the lowest emissions and tax bills (at least on paper) you want the plug-in hybrid. It’s capable of 173.7mpg and emits just 37g/km of carbon dioxide.
Like any plug-in hybrid, whether the car gets close to those figures depends on how often it’s recharged and the kind of journeys it tackles. Recharging at home each night and completing relatively short trips will deliver excellent fuel economy and rock-bottom running costs. On the other hand, if you can’t recharge at home and regularly go on long journeys the diesel could be a better bet.
The diesel’s 41.5mpg on the combined cycle and 178g/km of CO2 look unimpressive next to the plug-in hybrid’s, but the diesel isn’t as sensitive to how it is used – you expect returns of close to 40mpg in most types of driving.
For many drivers, the regular hybrid is the pick of the range. It’s more affordable to buy than the plug-in, and rightly or wrongly will be perceived as a greener choice than the diesel. With an official combined figure of 42.2-44.1mpg if you choose the two-wheel drive and 38.2-40.4mpg for the four-wheel drive, in reality it’s not all that different. Emissions are 145-152g/km for the two-wheel-drive model, and 168g/km for the 4x4.
Car tax bills will be lowest if you choose the plug-in hybrid. However, as every Santa Fe costs over £40,000, you’ll pay the £510 per year for five years once the first 12 months of Vehicle Excise Duty expires. That’s just a £10 annual saving on the diesel.
The Hyundai Santa Fe scored five stars when last tested by Euro NCAP in 2018, although that rating applies to the previous generation. Given that the Santa Fe and Kia Sorento are closely related, it seems reasonable to assume that the Hyundai would match the Kia’s five-star score if tested today.
Most safety systems are shared by Premium and Ultimate spec, including Forward Collision Avoidance Assist. This is Hyundai’s name for its autonomous emergency braking system, and it can detect cyclists and pedestrians as well as other vehicles.
Ultimate models do get one or two extra driver aids, such as Rear Cross Traffic Alert to warn if another car is passing behind you as you reverse out of a parking space.
Security kit includes speed-sensitive automatic door locking, an alarm, and remote central locking.
Although the latest Santa Fe is very new, we don’t expect owners to suffer from many problems. Hyundai deserves its reputation for building reliable cars.
That said, the Santa Fe is a complex car, packed with sophisticated technology. There’s a lot more to go wrong in the Santa Fe than in the Hyundai i10 city car, for example. So it’s good to know that the Santa Fe has Hyundai’s five-year unlimited mileage warranty. That should protect you against any unexpected bills.
*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.