New Hyundai Santa Fe review

Category: 7-seater

Seven-seat SUV is very smart and practical with a great interior

Hyundai Santa Fe front left driving
  • Hyundai Santa Fe front left driving
  • Hyundai Santa Fe rear left driving
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior dashboard
  • Hyundai Santa Fe boot
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior driver display
  • Hyundai Santa Fe front left driving
  • Hyundai Santa Fe front driving
  • Hyundai Santa Fe rear right driving
  • Hyundai Santa Fe headlights detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe front detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe alloy wheel detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe grab handle detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe rear lights detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior front seats
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior back seats
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior steering wheel detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior infotainment
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior seat detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe front left driving
  • Hyundai Santa Fe rear left driving
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior dashboard
  • Hyundai Santa Fe boot
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior driver display
  • Hyundai Santa Fe front left driving
  • Hyundai Santa Fe front driving
  • Hyundai Santa Fe rear right driving
  • Hyundai Santa Fe headlights detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe front detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe alloy wheel detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe grab handle detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe rear lights detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior front seats
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior back seats
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior steering wheel detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior infotainment
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior detail
  • Hyundai Santa Fe interior seat detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Some new cars look very similar to their predecessors – but not the latest Hyundai Santa Fe. This fifth-generation model is, like the model it replaced, a seven-seat SUV. But apart from the badge on the nose, it appears to bear pretty much no resemblance – inside or out – to the fourth-generation car.

Is that a problem? Well, the fourth-gen Santa Fe was an exceptional SUV that was comfortable and hugely practical, so it would be a shame if Hyundai had thrown away a winning formula to gamble on a completely different approach.

Surprisingly, though, the angular new bodywork and more upmarket interior sit on the same underpinnings that the old car used. And that means both conventional hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions are available.

But what’s the new Hyundai Santa Fe like to drive and live with, and how does it compare with other seven-seaters you might be considering? Read on to find out...

Also, bear in mind that sales haven't started yet, so the prices shown via our free New Car Deals service and in our At A Glance section relate to the previous model, which currently remains on sale.

"If you're in the market for a stylish yet affordable seven-seater the Santa Fe has finally come of age. Its striking exterior styling covers a sophisticated package easily able to take on the premium-badged products that populate this class." - George Hill, staff writer

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The engine line-up for the Hyundai Santa Fe in the UK will consist of two petrol engines, both carried over from the previous Santa Fe, with some tweaks.

The regular hybrid (HEV) version – which is the one we've driven so far – has a 1.6-litre petrol engine with some electrical assistance. It's available with front or four-wheel drive, and officially accelerates from 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds.

It can feel a tad laboured if you’re after a quick burst of acceleration, but is strong enough to get up to motorway speeds, and will cruise through long journeys on fast roads with relative ease. Really, though, this set-up is in its element around town, where progress is sharp, quick and efficient.

The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version, which will have four-wheel drive, is expected to have a slight update compared with the previous version, so we’d hope to see an improvement in the official electric-only range, which – at 36 miles – wasn’t particularly special.

Hyundai Santa Fe image
Skip the showroom and find out more online

The new Santa Fe is a comfortable SUV on the road, with its soft suspension delivering a supple ride, especially at low speeds. It does get a little fidgety at motorway speeds – where a Peugeot 5008 is a little more settled – and the 20in alloys our test car rode on gave a firm edge over road imperfections.

The soft ride does mean that, dynamically, while there’s enough grip on offer, there’s quite a bit of roll if you carry some speed through corners. The very light steering feels a little vague at faster speeds – the flipside, though, is that it’s a big car that's very easy to manoeuvre at low speeds.

Refinement is generally very good, with an acceptable amount of wind and road noise at motorway speeds, but it’s a shame that the brake pedal has quite a mushy and inconsistent feel to it. It takes practice to bring the car to a halt smoothly.

"The Santa Fe feels much smoother than the model it replaced, especially in the engine department. True, its 1.6-litre engine won't set the world on fire, but it always has enough oomph for everyday situations, even fully loaded, and it's nicely refined, especially around town." - Oliver Young, used cars reporter. 

Driving overview

Strengths Impressive refinement; easy to manoeuvre

Weaknesses 20in alloys give a sharp edge to the ride; acceleration in the hybrid is a little laboured

Hyundai Santa Fe rear left driving

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

The interior of the new Hyundai Santa Fe is nothing like the old one in terms of looks and layout. In fact, it bears more of a resemblance to the rather upmarket Land Rover Discovery Sport.

You still have a fantastic driving position, though, with lots of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel. You sit high off the ground with a terrific view out of the front which lets you see all the way down to the nose of the car.

The door mirrors are a great size and the view out of the back is generous, even with chunky rear pillars. Plus, on some versions you can turn the rear-view mirror into a digital camera feed showing you a view out the back of the car (Hyundai has yet to confirm which UK trims will get that tech, though).

All of which means that even though this is a very big seven-seat SUV, it’s easy to judge where its extremities are, which is a big help around town.

There are two 12.3in screens – one for the driver display and one for the infotainment. The infotainment system gets Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It has a relatively user-friendly standard operating system, with sharp graphics and decent response to touch inputs.

There's a separate screen lower down on the dashboard for the climate controls, which are permanently displayed on a 6.6in touchscreen, with physical dials on either side.

On one hand, it’s a shame most of the climate controls are on a touchscreen, because it’s more distracting to use while driving than physical buttons. But on the other hand, at least it is permanently visible, the buttons are responsive and it’s not all hidden on a submenu in the infotainment system.

The Santa Fe has a plush look and feel inside. It has clearly been inspired by its premium rivals, and while not all of the materials feel first-rate (some of the metal-effect trims are a bit on the cheap side) for the most part it feels a cut above mainstream rivals, including the Nissan X-Trail and the Peugeot 5008.

"This Sante Fe is much more upmarket than Santa Fes of old, with plenty of plush-feeling materials in the line of sight and where your hands naturally fall. On top of that, it's user-friendly and very easy to find the right driving position." - Claire Evans, consumer editor 

Interior overview

Strengths Great driving position; plush look and feel

Weaknesses Touchscreen buttons for most climate functions

Hyundai Santa Fe interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

The new Hyundai Santa Fe is a spectacularly practical and spacious SUV. There’s loads of room up front, not only for the driver and front-seat passenger, but also in terms of the storage available.

You’ll find massive cup holders, huge trays in the middle with space for two wireless phone-charging pads, lots of storage underneath and a huge compartment under the central arm rest. Handily, it features a two-way opening, which means it’s just as easily accessed by people in the front as it is by people in the middle row.

For the passenger, there’s a cubby above the decent-sized glovebox (on the left-hand-drive model we drove, at least). On top of that side of the dashboard, there’s another storage compartment with a very unusual feature – it uses UV lighting to sterilise objects inside it.

The driver and front passenger are also able to specify Hyundai’s “relaxation seats”, which we first saw in the Hyundai Ioniq 5. These enable the seat to almost fully recline – complete with a leg rest – to help you relax if you’re ever sat waiting for something, or someone, in the Santa Fe.

But it’s in the back and beyond where the Santa Fe really excels. For a start, access to the rear seats is fantastic. The rear doors are very large and open up to a helpfully wide aperture.

And it’s a simple process to slide the middle row forwards and clamber into the third row of seats.

The new Santa Fe also features hidden sunken grab handles on the outside of the car. Those are useful to help haul yourself into the car, or to reach up to get something from the roof box, if you’ve got one fitted. The grab handles won’t be standard, though.

Once you’re in the middle row, space is vast. There’s lots of head room and leg room so six-footers will be able to stretch out and relax.

We’ve only sat in a Santa Fe with a six-seat configuration, but in the UK we’ll only have seven-seat models. It remains to be seen exactly how good a three-person bench is, but we’d expect it to be incredibly practical even by the high standards of this class. Outer passengers in the middle row get two massive cup holders each and decent door bins – the floor is pretty flat as well.

The third row is amazingly spacious relative to its rivals. Normally sitting in the third row of a seven-seat car is a short straw that’s best avoided, particularly on long journeys. But the Santa Fe is remarkably roomy – the boxier styling has helped offer some extra head room compared to the previous car.

It’s more generous in the third row than the Peugeot 5008 but you’ll have more room in a BMW X7 and a full-size Land Rover Discovery – those SUVs will likely cost vast amounts more than the Santa Fe, though.

It’s not just the sheer volume of space that impresses in the back; you also get USB-C chargers on both sides, air vents and even more cup holders.

The boot is enormous, too. In five-seat mode it’s 725 litres – a whopping 91 litres bigger than before. That's massive, and bigger even than the huge boot in the Kia Sorento. If you want even more space, you can put all the rear seats down, which pretty much turns it into a van.

On top of that, the boot opening itself is incredibly wide, which makes hauling things in and out of the load bay very simple.

"If you're looking for space, the Santa Fe has it in spades. Up front is really pleasant, but the second and third rows excel in passenger room. As well as that, you could get lost in its boot, it's so voluminous." - Chris Haining, sub-editor

Practicality overview

Strengths Fantastic space in the third row; huge boot

Weaknesses Six-seat layout not available in the UK

Hyundai Santa Fe boot

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

There’s not a huge amount of detail we can offer here, because pricing and trims for the new Hyundai Santa Fe have not yet been announced for the UK.

It also hasn’t yet been crash tested by Euro NCAP.

But we know Hyundai overall has a fantastic reliability record, with the brand finishing a very impressive seventh out of 32 manufacturers in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. The car will come with a long warranty of five years and unlimited miles.

Costs overview

Strengths Long warranty; Hyundai reliability record

Weaknesses Pricing and specification not known

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Hyundai Santa Fe interior driver display

FAQs

  • No. The Santa Fe is much bigger and more practical than the Hyundai Tucson.

  • Yes, it is. In the UK, the Santa Fe comes as a seven-seater as standard, and it’s fantastically practical.

  • It’s not just big – it’s huge, with space for seven adults and a large boot. Thanks to light steering and great visibility, it's not a stressful car to thread through congested streets.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £3,518
Target Price from £39,911
Save up to £3,518
or from £453pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £34,750
RRP price range £43,255 - £51,680
Number of trims (see all)2
Number of engines (see all)3
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)hybrid, petrol parallel phev, diesel
MPG range across all versions 173.7 - 44.1
Available doors options 5
Warranty 5 years / No mileage cap
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,063 / £3,545
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £2,127 / £7,089
Available colours