Hyundai Santa Fe SUV
Price £27,800 - £35,430
- Excellent modern design
- Huge interior space
- Five-year warranty
- Quite expensive to buy
- Automatic gearbox is poor
- Third-row seat access and space
At a glance
“The Hyundai Santa Fe offers lots of space and comfort, but it it's no longer the bargain it once was.”
The Hyundai Santa Fe was crowned Best Large SUV at the Carbuyer Car of the Year awards in 2014, which is a measure of how good it is. The latest model looks much classier than the car it replaced thanks to a chrome grille and chunky styling.
Inside, the quality of the interior has also improved, although it still can't match cars like the Land Rover Freelander 2 (apart from on price, that is), but does offer the option of seven seats.
All models get the same 2.2-litre diesel engine, which has the power to cope with the Hyundai's size and can also return decent fuel economy for a large off-roader. Owners can choose to spec two-wheel drive if they wish to boost economy further.
The increase in quality has resulted in an increase in price and the Hyundai Santa Fe now shares roughly the same price bracket as premium models such as the Land Rover Freelander and BMW X3. Playing into the Hyundai's favour is its excellent five-year warranty, which is better than you’ll get in either the Land Rover or the BMW, but two years shorter than you’ll get in the similarly-sized Kia Sorento.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Diesel-only line-up keeps running costs in check
All Hyundai Santa Fe models come fitted with the same diesel engine, so have very similar fuel economy and emissions figures. There is the opportunity to save some money by going for the two-wheel drive version, which gets economy of 47.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 155g/km, although the latter figure means you’ll still pay £180 on road tax annually – the same as the four-wheel drive version. The two-wheel drive car also won’t be particularly good off-road, and not as competent at towing, either.
Go for one of the four-wheel drive versions and economy drops slightly to 46.3mpg and emissions rise to 159g/km. A small penalty, given the car's improved versatility.
Interior & comfort
New suspension means it's comfortable on the motorway
Once out on the motorway, the Hyundai Santa Fe makes for a surprisingly quiet relaxed cruiser. The car's 2.2-litre engine feels like it has plenty of power in reserve for overtaking and doesn’t get very loud – even at high speeds. Just a little wind noise from the wing mirrors upset the relative calm of the interior.
On twisty roads though, the excessive body lean in corners could make your passengers feel a little sick, and if you are an enthusiastic driver a car like the Mazda CX-5 could be a much better bet. That said, it's an easy car to drive, and it doesn’t feel as large as its spacious interior would suggest.
Practicality & boot space
Huge boot and seven-seat option are impressive
The Hyundai Santa Fe is a practical car if you have a growing family. Buyers can go for a seven-seat option, which has an extra pair of seats in the boot for children – or adults if you’re only travelling short distances. Fold those seats away and boot space is a healthy 969 litres, but drop all the seats and the Santa Fe offers a huge 2,247 litres. The middle row of seats can also split 60:40 and slide forwards and backwards, to make it easier to access the rearmost row.
The Hyundai Santa Fe also offers a decent amount of cubbyholes, with large door bins and a storage area on the centre console.
Reliability & safety
Solid build and five-year warranty are major plus points
Hyundai came 14th out of 32 firms in our manufacturers’ rankings finishing ahead of direct rivals such as Ford, Vauxhall, Citroen and Peugeot. The Santa Fe also came about halfway in the 2013 Driver Power survey's rankings for individual cars – taking 74th spot out of 150 models.
As far as safety goes, there should be nothing to worry about with the Hyundai Santa Fe. It got the full five stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP, and gets plenty of safety features including driver and front passenger airbags, side and curtain airbags, as well as electronic stability control, and seatbelt pretensioners.
Engines, drive & performance
Capable and dependable rather than fun to drive
The Hyundai's 2.2-litre diesel engine never feels overawed by the bulk of the Santa Fe and acceleration even on the slower four-wheel drive version feels brisk. The 4x4 version is the one to go for, too, because it plays to the Santa Fe's strengths by giving extra grip on slippery roads, and when towing. The two-wheel drive version is also only slightly more economical, so the benefit here is fairly small.
The Santa Fe is a big SUV and, while it can deal with corners perfectly well, cornering with too much gusto will result in lots of body lean, and isn’t much fun.
Price, value for money & options
Price hike means more equipment, but less value for money
Even the basic Hyundai Santa Fe Style model comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, automatic headlights, cruise control, a Bluetooth phone connection, parking sensors, and heated front seats. Premium SE models add to that with 12-way electronic driver's seat adjustment, 19-inch alloys, xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and go, and smart parking assist.
Every Hyundai also comes with a five-year/100,000 mile warranty that is transferable to any new owner. The Santa Fe is likely to lose its value quicker than rival cars from Ford and Volkswagen, but used prices are fairly strong, thanks to the car's wide breadth of abilities.
What the others say
The Santa Fe is a big step up from the model it replaces. It looks like a car from the class above, and it’s comfortable and well equipped on the inside, too. It drives relatively well, and will transport up to seven people with very little fuss, providing you dodge the potholes. Is it good enough to justify the extra £3,435? We’d say so, but only just.
Hyundai has raised the prices for this generation of Santa Fe, although cheaper variants should come along once the company starts selling versions powered by a 2.0-litre turbodiesel instead of the 2.2. Even so, the standard kit list looks reasonably generous, with alloys, reversing sensors, air-con, Bluetooth, seven airbags and Trailer Stability Assist on all models. There’s no escaping the fact that the Santa Fe is no longer the steal it once was - but it’s an excellent package that is considerably better than cheaper rivals such as the Chevrolet Captiva.