Do you know the way to Santa Fe ?
Just why Hyundai named their largest car after a town in New Mexico is anyones guess ? It was introduced into the Hyundai line up for the 2001 model year as Hyundai’s first SUV & the fourth generation was introduced in 2018. Like sister company KIA, the Santa Fe like all of Hyundais models has had a serious transformation, going from a rather bland looking vehicle to now being one of the most attractive looking cars in a sector, where it competes with the likes of the Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX5, KIA Sorento & Ford Kuga.
Hyundai really has made great strides in terms of design, with the Santa Fe just one of the latest Hyundai models to be given a major makeover. Gone is the boxy and ungainly profile of the earlier models, replaced by a lower and sleeker design. Hyundai like Korean sister brand KIA, seem to know which boxes to tick when it comes to the UK car buying public. In a world where SUV’s rule & large, premium SUV’s can do no wrong, Hyundai’s latest Santa Fe has a lot going for it. The styling of the new Santa Fe has been updated & features Hyundai’s cascading grille as seen on the Kona & Tucson. It looks rugged & the addition of the new front end makes a real difference, taking the new model visually anyway closer to premium territory.
Looks it seems are everything in a sector that offers customers choices that include the new Land Rover Discovery Sport, Range Rover Velar, Audi Q5 & BMX X3, so unsurprisingly, getting the outside right was of prime consideration to Hyundai when building the new model.
The cabin interior is neatly & logically set out & in the main is made of good quality & soft touch plastics, excepting the central binnacle which does feel flimsy & disappointed for a model costing over £40,000. Both the steering wheel controls for the likes of cruise control as well as the touchscreen SatNav system were easy to use & to understand. All models are well equipped, with entry level SE featuring parking sensors, rear electric windows, roof rails, privacy glass, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, cruise control, autonomous emergency braking & Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. The mid-spec Premium trim adds electrically adjustable front seats, a high-end Krell sound system & keyless entry and ignition. Top-of-the-range Premium SE goes further, with a heads-up display, ventilated front seats with drivers’ seat memory function & a panoramic sunroof.
The built-in infotainment system mirrors both those found in other Hyundai models as well as those in the KIA range. This means large, clear, easy to use graphics sitting in an 8″ touchscreen, with a nice split screen for your audio & SatNav functions. A cooled glove box & an automatic windscreen de-fog system – plus cruise control, speed-sensitive automatic door locking, automatic de-fog system for front windscreen, electronic parking brake & Smart Parking Assist are also fitted. Additionally, all models get a 12V power socket plus underfloor storage in the luggage compartment.
Versatility is a must for any SUV & the New Generation Santa Fe boasts a large 547-litre boot (third row seats fold flat) to accommodate bulky items. With both the second & third row of seats folded flat, cargo capacity is increased to 1,625 litres.
There’s only one engine on offer with the Santa Fe & it’s a 200hp 2.2-litre CRDi turbodiesel. Torque for this engine is rated at 440Nm while 0-62mph is taken care of in 9.4 seconds in manual 2WD & in our test car, the automatic 4WD model, 9.5 seconds, or 9.3 seconds when paired with 2WD & an automatic gearbox. Top speed is 127mph across all versions.
Our eight-speed auto Premium SE was quiet around town & very easy to drive. On the motorway it gets up to speed nicely & after selecting Adaptive Cruise Control, you can sit & watch the miles go past without a care in the world. The engine will do what it has to, such as tow a caravan or trailer, delivering effective low-down pulling power through towards the higher reaches of the rev range, but it’s hardly exciting, more a useful tool.
Safety is important to European customers as well. Every new Santa Fe is fitted with seven airbags as standard, including driver, passenger, front side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee units. Also fitted are ABS (anti-lock braking system), ESP (electronic stability programme), VSM (vehicle stability management), DBC (downhill brake control which keeps speed below 6mph when descending steep slopes), HAC (hill start assist control) & the new TSA (trailer stability assist). The fact that the Santa Fe is backed by Hyundai’s 5 Year Unlimited Mileage Warranty, which means owners get a fully transferable five year unlimited mileage warranty, five years roadside assistance & five years free vehicle health checks, should embarrass other manufacturers into offering something equally as impressive.
I tested the top of the range Premium 2.2 CRDi 7 seat 4WD automatic, which unsurprisingly sparkled in the sunlight with it’s sleek silver exterior making it a nice car to like. The seats & driving position are first class with electrically adjusted seats finished in leather making it simple to get comfortable. I like to set my seat position further back on longer motorway journeys allowing one to relax a bit more. In this respect the Santa Fe scores very highly as I haven’t driven anything else quite as comfortable for some time. Furthermore, my family enjoyed the spacious cabin & the panoramic sun roof really did make a difference when out & about on another depressingly grey November afternoon. The quick release levers in the boot allowed me to fold down seats 6 & 7 down easily to load up for yet another trip to the tip & to allow me to fit in the now ubiquitous ‘stuff’ purchased from IKEA.
Company car drivers will want to know how the Santa Fe performs vis a vis the tax man. On the combined fuel cycle it posts economy & CO2 emission figures of 45.6mpg & 162g/km. I have to say that over 5 days & 200 miles, driving the 4WD version, I averaged around 35 mpg, almost identical to the figures I achieved in the the smaller & 2WD Honda CRV, RAV4, CX5 & Ford Kuga, so in this respect the Santa Fe is better than all of them.
In what is a ridiculously competitive market place, the new model Santa Fe ticks all of the boxes required to appeal to those who want a large SUV. It looks great, it’s spacious, comes very well equipped, is offered with a brilliant warranty & drives well both on the motorway & around town. Emissions could be lower & the build quality of some of the fittings could be better, but other than that the Santa Fe is a really nice car & one that the family Walker including our dog, could happily live with every day.
A Route 66 3.5/5
Santa Fe Premium SE 7-seat 2.2 CRDi 4WD 8-speed Auto £41,826