Review

Hyundai Santa Fe SUV

Price  £27,800 - £35,430

Hyundai Santa Fe SUV

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Excellent modern design
  • Huge interior space
  • Five-year warranty
Cons
  • Quite expensive to buy
  • Automatic gearbox is poor
  • Third-row seat access and space

At a glance

The greenest
2.2 CRDi Style 5dr 7 Seat 4WD 5dr £29,000
The cheapest
2.2 CRDi Style 5dr 5 Seat 4WD 5dr £27,800
The fastest
2.2 CRDi Style 5dr 7 Seat 4WD 5dr £29,000
Top of the range
2.2 CRDi Premium SE 5dr 7 Seat Auto 4WD 5dr £35,430

“The Hyundai Santa Fe offers lots of space and comfort, but it it's no longer the bargain it once was.”

We crowned the Hyundai Santa Fe our Best Large SUV at the 2014 Carbuyer Car of the Year awards, which is a measure of how much we rate it.

The latest Santa Fe gets chunky looks and can be fitted with seven seats. Its rivals include the Kia Sorento, Land Rover Freelander and Honda CRV.

Counting in the Hyundai's favour is the model's excellent 2.2-litre diesel engine, which delivers strong performance and good fuel economy for a car of this size. The Santa Fe is an old school rugged off-roader that would be an excellent tow car but isn’t much fun to drive as models such as the new Nissan X-Trail.

Trim levels include Style, Premium and Premium SE. Even the basic model comes with air-conditioning, cruise control, big alloy wheels and rear parking sensors. The Santa Fe also comes complete with Hyundai's superb five-year/100,000-mile warranty.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.0 / 5

Diesel-only line-up keeps running costs in check

All Hyundai Santa Fes come fitted with the same 2.2-litre diesel engine, so models equipped with the manual gearbox can return fuel economy of up to 46.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 159g/km for road tax of £180 per year. Fit the automatic gearbox and fuel economy drops to 41.5mpg, while CO2 emissions rise to 178g/km for road tax of £225 per year. By comparison, the new Nissan X-Trail can return 57.6mpg and emissions of 129g/km. However, the Hyundai is quicker, stronger off-road and can tow 2,500kg compared to the Nissan’s 2,000kg limit.

The Santa Fe comes complete with Hyundai’s five-year/100,000-mile warranty. Insurance that ranges from group 18 (for the Style model) to group 20 (in the Premium SE) means that the SUV should also be reasonably cheap to cover. Hyundai also offers service plans that cover the car’s regular maintenance for up to five years – they start from £349.

Engines, drive & performance

3.0 / 5

Capable and dependable rather than fun to drive

The Santa Fe never feels at home tackling corners at speed thanks to plenty of body lean, the SUVs cumbersome feel, and its overly light steering. If your driving style is more relaxed, however, then the Hyundai is a smooth car to drive.

Opt for the two-wheel drive version and 0-60mph takes 9.4 seconds, which goes up to 9.8 seconds in the four-wheel drive versions. The figures don’t do the car justice, though, and performance is delivered in a slug of power that makes the Hyundai feel genuinely quick.

Equipped with four-wheel drive the Santa Fe would make an excellent tow car, capable of pulling up to 2,500kg. In this specification, the Hyundai is also a more capable off-roader than models such as the Nissan X-Trail.

Interior & comfort

3.4 / 5

New suspension means it's comfortable on the motorway

Climb into the Santa Fe and you’ll be greeted by an interior that has room for improvement. It’s simply designed and nice enough to look at, but hunt around and you’ll find hard scratchy plastics; the classy style of the exterior doesn’t quite make its way inside. Hyundai has made sure there is plenty of adjustment for both the steering wheel and driver’s seat so that getting comfortable behind the wheel is easy.

There’s some clatter from the engine under acceleration, but once at a cruise the Santa Fe’s interior is quiet, aside from a little wind noise caused by the SUV’s huge wing mirrors. Big tyres and raised suspension means that the Santa Fe’s a comfy car to sit in but if you want to avoid lots of body lean you’ll have to take corners slowly. The Mazda CX-5 is a much better bet if you want an SUV that’s also fun to drive.

Practicality & boot space

4.2 / 5

Huge boot and seven-seat option are impressive

Boot space is not something the Santa Fe is short of and even if you opt for the seven-seater version it offers 516 litres of capacity with the third row of seats folded away. Put the middle seats down and that rises to 1,615 litres in total. The middle row of seats can also split 60:40. Open the boot and there’s a huge opening and no load lip so heavy items can be slid in easily – something that’s helped by the two rear rows of seats folding almost completely flat into the floor.

While the third row of seats is best reserved for children, there’s plenty of space in the middle row even for tall adults. The middle row can also be slid forwards and backwards – for more boot space or extra legroom – and the two outer seats recline, too. Big adults will find the middle seat a bit tight for elbowroom, but the floor’s flat so there is space for feet.

Space up front is excellent, too, and there are loads of storage areas including two cupholders, a huge centre storage area, a large glovebox, and big door pockets.

Reliability & safety

4.0 / 5

Solid build and five-year warranty are major plus points

The Hyundai Santa Fe didn’t feature in our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, but Hyundai finished a disappointing 18th out of 33 in our manufacturers’ rankings. That might not sound great, but it did mean the company finished ahead of Volkswagen. The car featured in our 2013 survey – finishing mid-table in 74th place.

Safety shouldn’t be an issue, with the car achieving the full five stars when it was evaluated by Euro NCAP. Features include driver and front passenger airbags, side and curtain airbags, electronic stability control and seatbelt pretensioners.

Price, value for money & options

3.8 / 5

Price hike means more equipment, but less value for money

Hyundai has given the Santa Fe generous levels of equipment, so it gets 18-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control, a Bluetooth phone connection, parking sensors, and heated front seats. Premium models add chrome exterior trim and roof rails, plus luxuries on the inside such as a leather interior, premium stereo, rear parking sensors, and sat-nav. At the top of the range is the Premium SE model. It gets 19-inch alloy wheels, park assist, and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat.

Second-hand values for the Santa Fe come close to mirroring those of the more expensive Land Rover Freelander. The two-wheel drive Style model should hold more than 48 per cent of its original value over three years/36,000 miles. Over the same period the Premium SE with seven seats and an automatic gearbox will hold just under 45 per cent of its original price.

What the others say

4 / 5
based on 2 reviews
4.0 / 5
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.
4.0 / 5
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.
Last updated 
11 Aug 2014

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