Hyundai Santa Fe (2012-2018) Review
The Hyundai Santa Fe is a large and spacious SUV, but running costs are on the high side
Strengths & weaknesses
- Handsome styling
- Loads of space inside
- Five-year warranty with no mileage limit
- Poor automatic gearbox
- Third-row seats tricky to access
- High price and running costs
The Hyundai Santa Fe is large and practical and, as a sport utility vehicle (SUV), it offers the height of an off-road car that's designed mainly for tarmac.
You've got the option of a seven-seat version of the car, which offers more passenger room for large families and increased flexibility, and makes it an alternative to cars such as the Kia Sorento, Nissan X-Trail, Mitsubishi Outlander and Land Rover Discovery Sport.
It's being replaced by a new Hyundai Santa Fe this year, but the outgoing car's interior space compares well to its rivals, with good legroom in the middle row of three seats. As usual with cars of this type, the third row of seats (if fitted) is cramped, so best for children. They are also difficult to access, so you'll have to get used to cleaning muddy footprints off the upholstery.
There are some large storage spaces in the car, and you'll need them if you're planning on filling all seven seats - in this configuration, boot space is miniscule.
With those rear two seats folded down, boot space increases to a more respectable 515-litres (the five-seat car has a larger 585-litre boot), That's bigger than the 445 litres in the seven-seat Nissan X-Trail but less than the 605 litres in the Kia Sorento.
The Santa Fe isn't exactly cheap to run, with fuel economy figures of around 45mpg, the very most that you can expect.
On the plus side, like most big SUVs, the Santa Fe makes for a great towing car, which is helped by the standard four-wheel drive across the range.
The Santa Fe doesn't feel as big as it is from bejind the wheel, with fairly responsive steering and not too much leaningin corners. It’s at least easy to pick what Santa Fe you want, as following a recent facelift the range has been slimmed down to just a single diesel engine (with a choice of manual or automatic gearbox) and two trim levels with different amounts of standard equipment.
One of the biggest selling points of any Hyundai is the brand’s excellent five-year and unlimited-mileage warranty, which gives the ultimate in peace of mind. Also reassuring is a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety score (including a 96% adult occupant protection rating) and some hi-tech active safety technology to keep you out of harm’s way.
|Five years/unlimited miles
|Tax (min to max)
|£500 to £800 in first year, £140 thereafter / Pre-April 2017 cars: £180 to £205
Best Hyundai Santa Fe for...
Best for Economy – Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Blue Drive Premium (5 Seats)
As all Santa Fes use the same engine, the only thing affecting fuel economy is what gearbox you go for, with the automatic dropping the claimed average figure from about 46 to 42mpg. Road tax is at least £180 a year.
Best for Families – Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Blue Drive Premium SE (7 Seats)
Even if you don’t have lots of kids, the seven-seat version is worth going for to have the ability to seat seven on occassion of you need to. It’s also worth family buyers stepping up to Premium SE trim for its extra safety kit.
Best for Performance – Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Blue Drive Premium (7 Seats)
With a big car and potentially seven occupants to move around, the Santa FE’s 2.2-litre diesel engine isn’t short of power, getting it from 0-62mph in nine seconds dead (or 9.6 seconds for the automatic transmission).
One to Avoid – Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Blue Drive Premium Auto (5 Seats)
Even if you don’t need seven seats, it’s better to have them and not need them than the other way around. They’ll also make the car easier to sell secondhand – as will a manual rather than this version’s automatic gearbox.
- June 2012 Goes on sale in UK
Understanding Hyundai Santa Fe names
Engine 2.2 CRDi Blue Drive
The Santa Fe has just one engine: a 2.2-litre CRDi diesel. Blue Drive is Hyundai’s name for efficiency-boosting technology.
Trim Premium SE
There are two trim levels with different amounts of standard equipment: Premium and Premium SE.
Buyers have a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
Seats (7 Seats)
Seats: The Premium is available with five or seven seats, while the Premium SE is a seven-seater only.
Hyundai Santa Fe Engines
2.2 CRDi (diesel)
There’s just the one engine, no matter which specification or number of seats you go for with your Santa FE. It’s a big, powerful 2.2-litre CRDi diesel, making nearly 200bhp. That’s enough to take the Santa FE from 0-62mph in nine seconds and ensure it has enough grunt to keep going when loaded down with people, luggage and possibly a trailer or caravan.
The one choice you do have to make is whether to go for manual or automatic transmission. There’s nothing bad about the latter, and it may well be an appealing choice if you spend a lot of time in stop-start urban traffic. But the manual makes for a more satisfying driving experience, not to mention returning better fuel economy (46 versus 42 miles per gallon). The automatic version is also six tenths of a second slower from 0-62mph, although you’d be hard-pushed to notice that without a stopwatch to hand.
0 - 62mph
42.2 - 46.3mpg
9.0 - 9.6s
Hyundai Santa Fe Trims
Premium, Premium SE
Your choice is fairly straightforward here, too, with just two different levels of specification to consider. Entry-level Premium is well equipped from the outset, with 18-inch alloys, seven airbags, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity, cruise control, electric windows all round, power-adjustable heated folding door mirrors, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, front and rear foglights, heated leather seats, hill-start assistance, a leather steering wheel, parking sensors, a rear-view camera, DAB digital radio and sat nav all thrown in as standard.
You may be wondering what’s left for the Premium SE to add, but it does make some important additions that’ll tempt safety-conscious buyers: blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning. It also gets larger (19-inch) alloy wheels, headlight washers, a heated steering wheel, bright xenon headlights, keyless entry, push-button start, parking assistance, power adjustment for the front passenger seat, a powered tailgate, a panoramic sunroof and ventilated front seats.
Hyundai Santa Fe Reliability and warranty
Not enough owners of this third-generation version of the Hyundai Santa Fe responded for the car to rank in the 2015 edition of Auto Express magazine’s Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. So we can’t say for sure whether it’s improved on the second-generation version's somewhat disappointing build quality and reliability scores.
What we can say for sure, though, is that Hyundai offers probably the best warranty in the business, guaranteeing its cars for five years with no mileage limit. Sister brand Kia’s cover last longer (seven years) but has a 100,000-mile limit, so high-mileage motorists could get caught out.
Used Hyundai Santa Fe
The Santa Fe has fairly high list prices and also tends to retain a good chunk of its value on the secondhand market – even three-year-old examples are worth over 60% of their brand-new value. Generous standard equipment and that aforementioned long-lasting Hyundai warranty both contribute to this, meaning serious bargains are tough to find if you’re after one of these cars.
If you can do with just five seats and don’t mind the slightly reduced performance and fuel economy of an automatic gearbox, either or both of those aspects can bring down the Santa FE’s value a little, while higher-spec cars also lose a greater percentage of their initially higher list prices. However, the Santa FE is a capable and high-quality car that’s much sought after by family motorists, so they tend to get snapped up fast and command strong prices, so whatever version you’re looking for, be prepared to pay what it’s worth.