Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The 'self-charging' hybrid (HEV) version of the Hyundai Santa Fe is quick enough, with 0-60mph taking 8.4sec in our tests. True, there's a slight delay between you pressing the accelerator pedal and the car surging forwards, but it's not pronounced enough to be really annoying.
Meanwhile, the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has a more powerful electric motor and a bigger battery to allow it to travel without using its petrol engine. While the official electric range is 36 miles, you're like to get around 20-25 miles in the real world. It’s quite a lot heavier than the HEV, but acceleration isn't much slower (0-62mph officially takes 8.8sec). If you want a faster PHEV, consider the Lexus NX or Land Rover Discovery Sport.
On the whole, the ride of both versions is still pretty comfortable – broadly comparable with the rival Sorento – although you are jostled around a bit along pockmarked urban roads.
If you want the maximum comfort the Santa Fe has to offer, you’ll want to go for the HEV version in Premium trim, which will give you smaller 17in wheels and improve the ride even more.
There are multiple off-road modes, but unless you work in forestry, your Santa Fe will probably spend most of its time on Tarmac, so on-road driving manners are clearly the priority here.
On the whole, the Santa Fe handles tidily enough. There is, unsurprisingly, some body lean through tight turns, but despite being a tall, heavy car, it never lurches around in the uncontrolled fashion that the Toyota Highlander does. The steering doesn't give you a brilliant sense of connection with the road, but it's precise enough to allow you to place the car confidently at all speeds.