Hyundai Santa Fe 2.7 V6

If you're already sick of the sight of Father Christmas, then here's a different Santa for you to check out. And while it might not be powered by reindeer, nor have a fondness for mince pies and sherry, the new Hyundai Santa Fe V6 certainly has a sack of goodies on offer.

We can't see Father Christmas swapping his sleigh for a Santa Fe, even if it does have his name on the badge. Nonetheless, this is a good value SUV with a powerful V6 engine and a generous spec. It's not a brilliant car, but the long warranty and low price make it a worthy choice for luxury SUV buyers on a budget.

If you're already sick of the sight of Father Christmas, then here's a different Santa for you to check out. And while it might not be powered by reindeer, nor have a fondness for mince pies and sherry, the new Hyundai Santa Fe V6 certainly has a sack of goodies on offer.

At £18,995, this model undercuts the cheapest V6-engined Land Rover Freelander by £4,400, yet equipment levels are at the top of the tree. Standard bells and baubles include leather trim, heated seats, climate control, a four-speaker CD system, automatic transmission and cruise control.

It also benefits from Hyundai's class-leading five-year warranty. All of which makes the Santa Fe V6 sound like the perfect Christmas present - but is it?

Well, the styling is awkward. Hyundai may have toned down the original's bulbous looks - the nose has been smoothed out and the flanks are flatter - but even so, the Santa Fe will never win any beauty contests.

A similar story unfolds inside, with horrible, harsh-looking dashboard plastics and cheap feeling switches, while the front seats lack back support on long journeys. These downsides are a real shame, because in all other respects the Santa Fe has much to recommend it.Under the bonnet is a very smooth 2.7-litre V6 engine, and while performance isn't brilliant, it feels quite lively. The standard automatic transmission is good, too, boasting a manual sequential shift option and providing relatively slick changes.

What's more, the ride is unruffled, suffering only on badly broken road surfaces, while the driver's seat is firm, but surprisingly comfortable. The Santa Fe's steering is no worse than that of most SUV rivals, although it's very light and slightly vague at speed. The brakes are sharp but slow to react.

Practicality is good, too, thanks to a vast boot, lots of cubbies around the cabin and a separate opening tailgate window. The door bins front and rear are a smart touch, sculpted to perfectly accommodate a two-litre drinks bottle.

So the new Santa Fe V6 represents a significant advance over its predecessor in terms of its handling, practicality and value for money, but it's let down by the poor interior and uncompromising looks. If you don't mind these minus points, then it certainly isn't a turkey.

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