Hyundai Santa Fe (2013-2018) - Engines, drive & performance

The Hyundai Santa Fe is capable and dependable rather than fun to drive

Carbuyer Rating

3.8 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

A 197bhp 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel is the only engine available in the Hyundai Santa Fe and it's powerful enough to make the car feel pretty quick on the open road. Models fitted with the manual gearbox are capable of 0-62mph in nine seconds, which is impressive for a car of this size. Choose the automatic gearbox and that time increases to a slightly slower 9.6 seconds. In comparison, the Nissan X-Trail does the same sprint in 10.5 seconds.

Hyundai Santa Fe diesel engine

Although the engine in the Santa Fe is powerful, it does suffer from 'turbo lag', which means that at low revs the car can feel very sluggish, because you have to wait for the turbocharger to get up to speed. The result is that you need to take care to be in the right gear in corners and at junctions, otherwise the car won't accelerate as fast as you'd expect. The automatic gearbox, which actually makes the car feel slower, doesn't cancel out this phenomenon and we wouldn't recommend it over the manual.

Hyundai Santa Fes sold in the UK come with a suspension setup that's been specifically designed for dealing with harsh British roads. It can feel quite firm at times, but it's never truly uncomfortable and helps keep the big car reasonably stable and composed in corners. As you'd expect, the weight and sheer size of the car means it's prone to body lean if you're driving quickly on a particularly twisty road, but it's unlikely that typical Santa Fe owners will want to do that very often. The Mazda CX-5 is an SUV that's more fun to drive than the Hyundai, but it's smaller inside and only available as a five-seater.

Hyundai's Flex Steer system is standard on all models. This allows you to switch between three steering modes, called Comfort, Normal and Sport, which get progressively heavier. You should stick with Normal mode, as Sport can feel a bit artificial. Truthfully, the Santa Fe's steering can occasionally feel a bit vague regardless of what mode you're in.

The Santa Fe is by no means a rugged off-roader to rival a Land Rover Discovery Sport, but its four-wheel-drive system does make it feel secure in slippery conditions and the car can cope with rough tracks and steep inclines thanks to its high ground clearance and hill-descent control system.

Next Steps

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    2.2 CRDi Premium 5dr 4WD
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £37,476

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.6 TGDi Plug-in Hybrid Premium 5dr 4WD Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £45,226

Fastest

  • Name
    1.6 TGDi Plug-in Hybrid Premium 5dr 4WD Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £45,226

Recommended

Hyundai Santa Fe SUV review
Hyundai Santa Fe SUV
Hyundai Santa Fe
30 Nov 2021

Hyundai Santa Fe SUV review

Have You Considered

Peugeot 3008 SUV review
Peugeot 3008 SUV front cornering
Peugeot 3008
20 Jan 2022

Peugeot 3008 SUV review

Used Peugeot 3008 review: 2017-Present (Mk2)
Used Peugeot 3008 review: 2017-Present (mk2) - front 3/4 driving
Peugeot 3008
20 Jan 2022

Used Peugeot 3008 review: 2017-Present (Mk2)

Genesis GV80 SUV review
Genesis GV80 SUV
Genesis GV80
2 Jan 2022

Genesis GV80 SUV review

Most Popular

UK road tax 2022: VED tax rates and bands explained
2021 Road Tax explained
Car tax
20 Jan 2022

UK road tax 2022: VED tax rates and bands explained

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers
Hyundai Kona deals
Deals
14 Jan 2022

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers

Top 10 best economical 4x4s, SUVs and crossovers 2022
Peugeot 3008 SUV front cornering
Best cars
6 Jan 2022

Top 10 best economical 4x4s, SUVs and crossovers 2022

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
29 Sep 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
19 Jan 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
17 Jan 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
27 Oct 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022