The Hyundai Santa Fe is a large SUV that continues the Korean firm’s tradition of offering a lot of car for what looks like a reasonable sum of money. It is available with five or seven seats, and all models use a 2.2-litre diesel engine and four-wheel drive.
Room for seven people and some luggage
There are no two ways about it, the Santa Fe is a vast SUV, which bodes well for its potential as seven seat family transport. Sure enough, even the rearmost two seats are near enough full-size items with just enough headroom for an adult to be comfortable, and a decent amount of legroom provided the second row of seats isn’t slid all the way back.
You also get enough boot space to carry a folded baby buggy or a few bags of shopping with all seven seats in place, helped by being able to store the parcel shelf under the boot floor. Our only significant complaint is that access to the third row isn’t terribly easy, but the same can be said of other seven-seat SUVs too.
With the third row of seats folded away (a simple process) boot space is impressive, although a Kia Sorento is bigger still, and although you don’t get three separate seats in the second row, the Santa Fe is still just about wide enough to accommodate three adults.
Up front this is a spacious SUV with plenty of storage.
Soft ride eases away the miles
Unlike some SUVs, the Santa Fe makes no pretentions about offering a sporty or dynamic drive, but instead provides the kind of soft suspension once typical of a large 4x4. This works both for and against it, for at low speeds and at a gentle pace the Santa Fe is really quite pleasant, even on 19-inch wheels. Up the ante, however, and there’s so much movement in the body that occupants can end up being thrown around.
Road and wind noise are well controlled up to motorway speeds, but the 2.2-litre diesel engine is not the quietest around, and lacks the smooth sound of a V6.
Plenty of adjustment in the seats and steering wheel means it’s easy to find a good driving position, and the air-conditioned and heated seats, plus heated steering wheel on top-spec versions add a welcome touch of luxury. That even those in the rearmost seats can choose their own air-conditioning settings puts the Santa Fe in line with rivals.
Dashboard Layout 7/10
Not the prettiest, but functional all the same
If the Santa Fe’s dash lacks much in the way of gloss or excitement, it is certainly very functional, with simple analogue dials flanking a large clear trip computer that gives details of fuel economy, miles covered and average speed.
In the centre of the dash is a responsive 7-inch touchscreen system with an excellent satnav, although the traffic updates are nowhere near as slick as you’ll find in a Skoda Kodiaq.
The same can be said of the quality of materials, which although clearly built to last lack the tactile appeal of those in the Skoda.
Easy to Drive 7/10
Best to go for the automatic
Climb into an SUV of the Santa Fe’s size and you might expect to find a smooth shifting automatic gearbox. However, while that is indeed an option, many buyers opt for the cheaper six-speed manual, which has a springy clutch pedal and notchy gearchange that don’t scream of sophistication.
Limited visibility at the rear three quarters and relatively wide windscreen pillars at the front also make you fully aware of the Santa Fe’s size - this big SUV is not the easiest of vehicles to guide through narrow urban environments or squeeze into small parking spaces. Thankfully rear parking sensors and a reversing camera are standard, and top-spec versions also come with front proximity sensors.
Fun to Drive 4/10
Spacious, but not sporty
Although far from quiet when pushed, Hyundai’s 194bhp, 2.2-litre diesel engine does at least provide a decent burst of acceleration when required, so overtaking is rarely a problem. However, this car is also proof that acceleration alone is not enough to make a car fun to drive, because the Santa Fe’s slow and vague steering, heavy body and plentiful lean ensure it is not one for being thrown into corners. Even putting the steering into ‘Sport’ mode adds little other than a bit more weight to proceedings.
Hyundai’s record is solid
That you can buy a large and fairly luxurious seven-seat SUV with the reassurance of a five-year warranty would be enough for top marks were it not for the fact Kia offers an additional two years of cover on the similar Sorento, as well as performing better in the 2016 JD Power UK Vehicle Dependability Study with a third place finish versus Hyundai in 18th.
That said, Hyundai as a manufacturer performs better than Kia in the Warranty Direct Reliability Index, suggesting the Santa Fe will continue to offer faithful service long after its warranty has expired.
Fuel Economy 6/10
Not the cheapest SUV at the pumps
The same can be said of the kind of economy you’ll achieve in normal driving, which ranges between 32mpg with the car fully loaded and 39mpg with just a driver on board for a longer journey.
Not the cheapest model to run, but resale values are good
Given that the Santa Fe lags behind the best in class when it comes to fuel economy, it’s no surprise that CO2 emissions are also rather high. On the plus side you can buy even the most expensive Santa Fe without tripping over £40,000 and thus avoid the higher rates of Vehicle Excise Duty, but company car drivers will still find it a pricey option compared with rivals.
Having said all that, in seven-seat guise the Santa Fe continues to offer a lot of SUV for the money, without ever making you feel like you are buying into a budget product. Good resale values and fixed-price servicing add to its appeal.
Should perform well in a crash
The Santa Fe recorded the maximum five star rating in Euro NCAP’s industry standard crash tests, although it is worth noting this was before the organisation placed a strong emphasis on autonomous emergency braking being included as standard. This system, which can spot a potential collision with the car in front and automatically apply the brakes to avoid it, has been shown to drastically reduce front into rear crashes, but is only available on automatic versions of the Santa Fe at present.
That the Santa Fe range starts with Premium tells you all you need to know about how well equipped it is. In basic guise it includes 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, heated seats, a leather steering wheel, rear-view camera, DAB radio and satnav.
Upgrading to Premium SE adds 19-inch alloys, blind spot monitors, front parking sensors electric seat adjustment, a heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof and keyless entry, representing the top tier of a simple model line-up.
Our favourite version
Premium SE 2.2 CRDi 5dr 7 Seat Auto 4WD, £37,395
Options you should add:Metallic paint (£690)
The Hyundai Santa Fe might not be the newest SUV in town, but its combination of space and value continue to make it a tempting option, particularly in seven seat guise. If you rate comfort and price over driving thrills and a prestigious badge, it should be on your shopping list, although the Skoda Kodiaq remains the superior all-rounder.
Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/hyundai/hyundai-santa-fe-review/