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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

Owners Rating
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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.

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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.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.6 TGDi Hybrid Premium 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £46,680

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.6 TGDi Plug-in Hybrid Premium 5dr 4WD Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £48,385

Fastest

  • Name
    1.6 TGDi Plug-in Hybrid Premium 5dr 4WD Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £48,385

Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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