Hyundai Santa Fe review

Want a big, good value family SUV? Nope? That's a shame - this one isn't bad at all. And it's got 194bhp.

What is it?

It’s the Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi, a dead on rival for the likes of Land Rover’s Freelander. It’s four wheel-drive, can be had with seven seats and eschews the crossover trendiness of the Nissan Qashqai and Mini Countryman for a more straightforward approach.

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Technical highlights?

The engine by a country mile. Not so much for the impressive power and torque outputs (most rivals lag 40bhp-odd behind), but for how smooth it is. OK, so when cold it rattles and chugs for the first few miles, but once warmed through it’s impressively soft and good natured.

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What’s it like to drive?

Pretty rubbish by our usual way of measuring these things. It doesn’t like to be hurried and if you are bold enough to try a good chuck at a likely corner, it feels like the loaded front wheel is tucking under, causing the chassis to trip over itself.

It’s a big cumbersome SUV, so you treat it as such and when you do you realise it actually has a good blend of grip, ride and go and can be driven smoothly and swiftly without too much stress and ache. Slow down early for bends, then power through and the nose stays on line and the turbo delivers enough force to make things interesting.

I’m not convinced by the frame’s integrity on pitted roads, though – you can almost detect the A-pillars shaking and the steering is a little wayward.

How does it compare?

If you’re in the market for one of these things, then you could do much worse. The Santa Fe is twice the size of a Freelander or Honda CR-V inside, the extra seats are genuinely usable and structural shake and cheap materials aside, it actually feels very robust. And compare the power outputs with other 2.2-litre rivals: Freelander has 148bhp and 310lb ft, CR-V 148bhp and 258lb ft – although both are marginally cleaner and more efficient, plus the Honda handles more deftly and the Freelander driving experience has more integrity. 

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Anything else I need to know?

Big, hard wearing and relaxing, it’s a chuffing great family car, and with prices starting at £21,495 it really is very good value.


EngineIn-line 4cyl, 2199cc, turbodiesel
Max power194bhp/3800rpm
Max torque311lb ft/1800-2500rpm
0-609.8secs (claimed)
Top speed118mph
On saleNow, £23,995


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