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Car of the Year Awards 2022: Large SUV of the Year
A spacious interior is obviously a prerequisite for a car to compete in this class, but we also expect an upmarket feel, sensible costs, and top-notch comfort and refinement...
Hyundai Santa Fe 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid 4WD Premium
In the same way that something simple like cutting out carbs can help you lose weight, making a small tweak to the Hyundai Santa Fe recipe has made all the difference. You see, when it was first unveiled, you could only get it with a diesel engine, but since its overhaul in 2020, that’s been joined by hybrid and plug-in hybrid petrol alternatives. Combining the lower emissions that hybrid tech brings with some useful additions to the standard spec adds up to a very impressive package.
Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that even large SUVs are turning to hybrid power, but in this case there’s no reason not to choose one over the diesel unless you plan to tow. Around town, our preferred regular hybrid Santa Fe is a far more refined car than the diesel and offers strong performance all the way up to motorway speeds.
The Santa Fe has a comfortable ride when fitted with the smaller, 17in wheels that come with Premium trim, and it even gets standard self-levelling suspension at the rear. The set-up doesn’t give it the adjustability of the air-sprung Land Rover Defender but does give you a much more controlled ride than the floaty Citroën C5 Aircross, especially if you’ve got lots of people or luggage on board.
As with rivals such as the Kia Sorento and Peugeot 5008, the Santa Fe comes with seven seats. Adults can sit comfortably in the rearmost seats, more so than in the 5008 or a seven- seat Defender. There’s useful boot space even when all seven seats are in use, too.
But the standout feature of the Santa Fe is the great value it offers. The least expensive version – Premium – has many of the luxuries that our previous favourite large SUV, the Sorento, has only in its higher-end trims. And considering how much the pair share underneath, that’s more than enough justification for choosing the Santa Fe instead.
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