Hyundai Santa Fe review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

Winning Auto Express' Best Large SUV of 2013 award, the Hyundai Santa Fe offers tonnes of space and the option of seven seats

For: 
Looks and drives well, option of seven seats, lots of kit
Against: 
High list price, only one engine option, notchy gearchange

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The latest Hyundai Santa Fe provides stiff competition for the likes of the Honda CR-V and Land Rover Freelander. Over the years the Santa Fe SUV has climbed upmarket and it now offers a plush, high-quality interior and tonnes of space too.

The Hyundai Santa Fe engine range comprises a 2.2-litre CRDi diesel, and that's it. Every model apart from the entry-level car comes with four-wheel drive as standard, while manual and automatic gearboxes are available across the range. It couldn't really be simpler.

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The Santa Fe offers excellent towing capacity and those after that extra bit of practicality can opt for a seven-seater version - but the extra row of seats is quite cramped and accessibility isn't that great.

Despite pricing that's on comparable levels, the Hyundai Santa Fe still can't compete with premium contenders such as the Audi Q5 or BMX X3 on cabin quality. Having said that, the Hyundai Santa Fe offers a more roomy interior, an excellent five-year warranty and a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP. It's a solid choice for an all-round large family car - that's why the Hyundai Santa Fe won Auto Express' Best Large SUV of 2013.

Our choice: Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Premium 7 Seat

Styling

3.8

The Hyundai Santa Fe is characterised by a large trapezoidal chrome grille and aggressive angular headlights. Its sleek exterior styling sets it apart from rivals, while large dimensions give the Hyundai Santa Fe a significant road presence.

It might not look as appealing as premium challengers such as the Audi Q5 or BMW X3, but it's a better choice than its sister model the Kia Sorento and provides stiff competition for the likes of Honda's CR-V as far as styling goes.

There are three trim levels on offer with the Hyundai Santa Fe: Style, Premium and Premium SE. All versions get 18-inch alloy wheels except Premium SE cars, which get 19-inch alloys. Nice interior touches such as a leather steering wheel and gear knob can be found across all trim levels as well.

Driving

4.2

There's only one engine available with the Hyundai Santa Fe and that's a 194bhp 2.2-litre diesel. This engine actually makes the Hyundai Santa Fe surprisingly quick for a large vehicle, and if you've got the manual gearbox fitted you'll easily cover 0-60mph in 9.8 seconds.

Body roll isn't that great on twisty roads, however, so those after an SUV that's fun to drive might consider the Mazda CX-5 - the Hyundai Santa Fe is more of a family car than an off-roader.

You can choose between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive models with a further choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or an automatic (which is less economical and hampers performance slightly).

Reliability

4.2

In Auto Express' 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, Hyundai dropped seven places to 14th - which isn't great. Owners were mainly disappointed with the sub-standard drive, disappointing performance and average handling.

However, a five-year unlimited mileage warranty should provide you with some peace of mind. Meanwhile, the high quality interior has been well constructed and all the components have been tried and tested in the previous Hyundai Santa Fe.

The Hyundai Santa Fe was awarded the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests. It was actually named the safest large SUV in its class, with an impressive 96 per cent score for adult protection. It comes with seven airbags, a strengthened body shell and electronic stability control (ESP).

Practicality

4.7

Thanks to the large dimensions of the Hyundai Santa Fe you'll get 969 litres of boot space with the seats in place or 2,247 litres with them lowered. You can get a seven-seat Hyundai Santa Fe too, but the third row of seats is difficult to access.

The 60:40 split-fold middle seats slide back and forth for easier access and they can be folded down by the pull of a handle. Leg and headroom is impressive in the Hyundai Santa Fe, while large storage cubbies in the doors and centre console offer ample storage.

The Hyundai Santa Fe makes a great choice for towing a caravan or trailer too; it can pull 750kg unbraked or 2,500kg braked. You can even get a special Trailer Stability Assist system which improves towing safety by limiting torque and braking individual wheels when necessary.

Running Costs

4

The 2.2-litre diesel on offer with the Hyundai Santa Fe manages 47.9mpg and emits 155g/km of CO2 when paired with the manual gearbox - that isn't bad for a large SUV with a powerful engine.

The automatic still manages to return 41.5mpg, which is decent, but emissions increase to 178g/km translating into a large increase in road tax.

Thanks to its upmarket interior, attractive styling and seven-seat layout, Santa Fe residual values should be quite strong. As with all Hyundais, the Santa Fe includes a fully transferrable, five-year unlimited-mileage warranty and it's probably one of the most affordable cars in its class to run on a daily basis.

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Warp speed
The new Santa Fe is a lot better looking car than the one it replaces. Very contemporary looks which also do a good job of concealing the car's bulks.
Price however continues creeping up and most Hyundai products are now perilously close to class leaders. A car's price is part of a car's appeal.
Hyundai does not yet have the same brand image as rivals such as VW, Audi, Ford, etc. Many ownder owe their introduction to Hyundai cars due to their affordable prices. Hyundai should check the urge to keep increasing prices with each model update.

Think the commentary is bang on in terms of where the Hyundai is pitched. I have test driven all the cars you mention including the Hyundai, in the end I've plumped for a top of the range Santa Fe as even though the prices have crept up they're still amazing value. Accept that brand image isn't as high as the others but its a very good car and I'd recommend anyone in the market for the other models test drives it.

X3 is a nice car but frankly unless you get the souped up MSport with the upgrade alloys (£35k+) it looks pretty dull.

CRV is practical but the styling to accommodate the extra seats is scarily close to Ssanyong Rhodius territory, just doesn't look right.

Only one problem with this car. You'll have to wait a LONG time to get one, we're talking at least 9 months, maybe more, maybe over a year! Rumour is Hyundai can't keep up with global demand so they're focussing on 'key' markets... guess what, we're not one of them!

Ordered start of November and still no lead time, build date or any clue as to when they're planning to make it, with another update in March. Its 12 weeks from build start to deliver so I'm looking at at least 7.5 months and I was one of the early orders! So if you want a new car this year, maybe look elsewhere...

i have a 2004 santafe which simply gave me absolutely no hicuups though costing way below others.even the sealed battery is still running- miracle!
with that confidence i place an orderfor a full spec 2013 model with even auto body levelling found in rolls royce!
remember how samsung tv/ phone was 5yrs ago? they have thrashed others by miles.
face the truth korean car is more reliable,advanced and stylish than the dated looking x3/5 which made my tummy turn. badge freaks go sacrifice yr money for self imagined quality .see where hyundai will be if not already as leaders like samsung!

I bought my Santa Fe in January 2013. The vehicle was actually registered in November 2012 and had 600 miles on the clock. It was being used as the local dealer's 'showpiece' at the time. The model was the 7 seat Premium SE Auto and was and still is the most Highest spec and expensive model sold by Hyundai.

!!! The model is fitted with the Xenon Headlamps !!!

Since day one of my ownership I have an on going issue with Hyundai in that the headlamp fitted to the drivers side of my vehicle 'shakes' when going over a little bit of rough surface ( ie speed bumps etc).

The vehicle has been returned to my local dealer several times and Hyundai have actually replaced both headlamp units but the problem remains.
My local dealership have in fairness bent over backwards to sort the problem but now seems powerless to progress any further due to Hyundai putting the blocks on.
My last update was that Hyundai would not carry out any further investigative work until they had evidence of the fault.? The fact that the dealership technicians have seen the problem themselves doesn't seem to matter!!
It is accepted that the fault can only be identified during the hours of darkness and we are in the middle of a British summer where the nights are very short but I am sure that a major company as Hyundai have their own testing methods / conditions!
So the fight goes on and on and on and on!!!
Would I buy another Santa Fe? -
Yes most definitely, it's a good looking car and drives very nice. Certainly turns a few heads whilst out and about

Not the same brand image as Ford ? Hyundai prices are close to class leaders because the cars are almost class leaders and in a few years time they will be class leaders with prices to match

I am in North America visiting, and noticed this starts at $26k CDN, whereas it is £26in the UK - close to double! (@1.83 exchange)

Last updated: 23 Jan, 2014

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