Hyundai Santa Fe SUV
"The Hyundai Santa Fe is a capable seven-seat family SUV that performs well across the board, but doesn't excel in any specific area"
- Seven seats as standard
- Pricey to run
- Lacklustre handling
- Range-topping models expensive
From relative obscurity, the Hyundai badge has come to be a common sight on the UK's roads and cars like the Santa Fe have done much to reinforce the South Korean brand's reputation. Now into its fourth generation, the Hyundai Santa Fe offers the same SUV package as its predecessors, rivalling seven-seat versions of the Skoda Kodiaq, Nissan X-Trail, Peugeot 5008 and Kia Sorento in the process.
Hyundai would also like to believe that its Santa Fe can attract Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace and even Land Rover Discovery Sport buyers, which wasn’t really the case for the previous model. Quality is improved and it has a much more upmarket look but the price is quite a bit higher too. It's also set to be replaced after just a few years on sale, by striking new version with the option of hybrid and plug-in hybrid options.
The Santa Fe wears Hyundai's latest corporate look in its most expressive form yet, with a bold 'cascading grille' with distinctive chain-link slats. It looks more confident than the smaller Hyundai Kona, and more aggressive, too, with its narrow, slanting daytime running lights. The smart exterior style of the Santa Fe gets it off to a good start, then, and that continues inside.
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The way the doors curve round into the top of the dashboard is a neat design touch. The layout is clear and the materials look and feel superior to many previous Hyundais. They aren't far short of the Santa Fe’s European rivals, either. Equipment is generous across the range, with climate control, privacy glass, cruise control (adaptive cruise control when the automatic gearbox is specified), DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto all standard. Both models also get sat nav, which wasn’t fitted as standard on the now-discontinued entry-level SE trim.
Only one engine is offered: a 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel with 197bhp, mated to either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox. It's the same engine offered in the previous-generation Santa Fe, but has been updated to reduce emissions. Economy stands at 41.5mpg for the manual and 39.8mpg for the automatic, and both versions are now only offered with four-wheel drive. This means that the Santa Fe isn’t particularly cheap to run but the figures are in the same ballpark as a Skoda Kodiaq or Nissan X-Trail with similar engines. A plug-in hybrid version will join the range later. Performance is reasonable but not breathtaking, with 0-62mph taking under 10 seconds, and the handling is safe, smooth and comfortable rather than entertaining.
As a good-looking and practical family SUV, the Santa Fe stacks up well, with its spacious seven-seat interior and big boot. Standard autonomous emergency braking bodes well for safety along with a five-star rating from Euro NCAP, and only 8.9% of Hyundai owners reported any faults with their cars in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. It should be a trouble-free and relatively cost-effective ownership proposition.
The Santa Fe doesn't have many great advantages over its strong rivals, either in image, comfort, drive or price. Ultimately, the Hyundai is a very competent package, but we can only recommend it if you're offered a compelling deal.