Hyundai Santa Fe SUV (2006-2012)
- Five-year warranty
- Great value for money
- Extremely practical
- Poor resale values
- Five-seater makes less sense
- Rear seat access
"Spacious, practical and competent off-road, the Santa Fe is accomplished but lacks driving enjoyment."
The Hyundai Santa Fe is one of the best-value 4x4s on the market. Seven-seater versions cost an extra £750 and have a huge and versatile interior. Build quality is good and the car feels luxurious no matter where you’re sitting. The diesel engine performs well and the Santa Fe is impressively economical for a car of its size. Hyundai has a sound reliability record and its cars come with a long warranty, which helps boost the 4x4's resale value – and makes it a very safe buy.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Impressively cheap to run for such a big car
The 2.2 CRDi diesel is impressively cheap to run. With a manual gearbox it returns 41.5mpg, which is good for such a big car. Even the automatic claims 39.2mpg for the five-seater or 38.2mpg for the seven-seater, which isn’t bad. Manual Santa Fes emit 176g/km of CO2, which means Road Tax costs £200 a year, while automatics will cost £235 annually to tax as they emit 194-197g/km. Resale values aren’t great: Hyundai's budget image means the Santa Fe loses a lot of money from new in comparison to some rivals.
Interior & comfort
Quiet and comfortable on the move
The Santa Fe's interior is very quiet, with wind and engine noise barely noticeable at any speed. The comfortable ride and soft seats make the car ideal for long motorway journeys, although body roll can become tiring on twisty roads.
Practicality & boot space
Cavernous boot even bigger with seats folded
In seven-seat form the Hyundai is one of the most practical cars in its price range. The standard boot space is 969 litres, but fold the rear seats down and this increases to an incredible 2,247 litres – that's simply enormous and perfect for carrying stuff like bicycles or pieces of furniture. All of the seats are easy to fold flat, although access to the rearmost row through the gap behind the middle seats is limited. The stalks behind the steering wheel are mounted in the opposite direction to most cars – with the indicators on the right and the wipers on the left – which might be confusing for some drivers to begin with. But if the Santa Fe is the only car you drive, you’ll soon get used to this.
Reliability & safety
Reliability and warranty are major plus points
A score of four Euro NCAP stars for adult and child occupant protection is a reasonable result, and the Santa Fe comes with front, side and full-length curtain airbags as standard. There are also active head restraints for the front seats, plus the four-wheel drive and electronic stability control mean extra grip. The five-year, unlimited mileage warranty offers great peace of mind as well.
Engines, drive & performance
Capable and dependable on any surface
There's only one engine choice: a 194bhp 2.2 CRDi diesel. It's powerful enough to ensure that performance is brisk for such a big car, without being uneconomical. Best to stick with the six-speed manual gearbox rather than the six-speed automatic, as the latter hampers fuel efficiency. The Hyundai isn’t especially exciting to drive, but is set up for comfort and copes with rough surfaces well. Due to its size, it rolls about quite a bit in corners, but the four-wheel-drive system means the Santa Fe has plenty of grip and copes well with loose or icy surfaces.
Price, value for money & options
Fantastic value for money as a seven-seater
Compared to most other 4x4s on the market, the Santa Fe represents excellent value for money – as long as you go for a seven-seater model. It makes less sense as a five-seater, as prices are closer to those of rivals. Entry-level Style models come with alloy wheels, air-conditioning, reversing sensors and a USB slot for MP3 players. Top-spec Premium versions add leather seats, automatic headlights and wipers, heated front seats, an electrically adjustable driver's seat and dual-zone climate control.
What the others say
The Santa Fe isn't as nimble as some rivals, but that's partly because it's larger. It handles and grips well enough, though, and feels impressively assured on country roads. It demands little effort around town, too, and although the ride can thud over sharper bumps, it's generally comfortable.
The Santa Fe is one of the best cars in the Hyundai line-up and a great 4x4. It has a versatile seven-seat option, a good quality interior, comfortable ride and a cracking diesel engine. It stacks up well alongside the competition too and there are few cars that can match it on space, equipment and value for money.
Under the bonnet, the new 2.2-litre direct-injection diesel produces the most power and torque here, at 194bhp and 436Nm. So even though the 1,987kg Hyundai is the heaviest car, it was the fastest in-gear. The 4x4 system ensured acceleration off the line was strongest at our snow-bound test track, too.
Relaxed motorway cruising, comfortable ride, excellent on very rough tracks. Best as a diesel auto. Seven seat option. Hugely improved for 2010 with new chain cam 2.2 R-Type engine.
Last updated: 28 Jun 2013