Hyundai Santa Fe long-term review

Hyundai's latest Santa Fe is now fighting in the same territory as premium rivals from Audi and BMW. Is it worth your money? We've got four months to find out...

Hyundai Santa Fe long-term
  • The car: Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Premium SE 
  • Run by: John Bradshaw, chief photographer
  • Why it’s here: The appeal of an SUV still remains after my time in an estate, so let's see how good Hyundai's latest offering is
  • Needs to: Offer plenty of space for all my photography gear, provide a comfortable ride on long journeys and have a raft of equipment and modern safety tech

List price: From £33,450 Target Price: From £31,692 Price as tested: £43,985 Options: Earthy Bronze metallic paint (£690)  

18 June 2019 – A large goodbye

Four months ago, when I picked up the keys to my Hyundai Santa Fe, I had just given up the rights to a Volvo V60. Moving from an estate to an SUV is a trend of the car market as a whole right now, and as one of the perks of getting to pick a new car for my work needs, I was intrigued to see how that bulked-up space and practicality really translates.

A quick reminder if you’ve missed my previous updates (you can catch up on those here): as chief photographer, my days consist of driving hundreds of miles around the country for crack-of-dawn photoshoots, ladened with plenty of photography kit, photography assistants and even a bucket and sponge for getting our subjects ready. 

Hyundai Santa Fe

Because of that, I always appreciated the huge boot of this seven-seater. It impressed me not only with the amount of lifestyle paraphernalia it could swallow – as well as tripods, I managed to fit plenty of garden waste and dismantled fence for trips to the tip – but also its extra practicality.

For example, when I was in the middle of changing lenses or looking at photographs on my laptop, the Santa Fe's raised tailgate acted as a large roof to protect my kit from getting wet in bad weather. That might not seem like something you’d acknowledge regularly, but even if you’re loading shopping or trying to fold up a buggy, it will be a subtle advantage of this large SUV that you’ll appreciate during the drizzly British summer. 

Another benefit I felt every day was the higher driving position that SUVs are famed for. Sitting upright was much more comfortable on long journeys than having my legs stretched out in front of me, so I was less achy at the end of seven-hour journeys around the country. The seats themselves are comfortable; electric adjustment and adjustable lumbar support meant finding the perfect seating position was a breeze. 

The 197bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine made my long journeys fly by, too, with more than enough power. Plus, the handling was good for such a big car, with minimal body roll and confident steering making it as easy to drive and manoeuvre as something half its size. My only irritation, in fact, was the automatic gearbox, which could be a little hesitant to respond when pulling away from a standstill, for example at a set of traffic lights. 

Hyundai Santa Fe

But while my comments on ride and refinement are limited to how comfortable I found the car on the motorway, my esteemed road-testing colleagues have also put the Santa Fe through its paces, with it recently being featured in a test against the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the Ssangyong Rexton. After a thorough test comparing ride, space, comfort and equipment (which you can read in full here), they concluded that the Santa Fe is indeed the best of the three, agreeing with me on its impressive practicality and competent engine. 

However, as you’ll see, it didn’t win the test, due to it being considerably more expensive than the higher-end Discovery Sport, both on outright costs and monthly PCP. 

From my experience, though, if seven seats and buckets of space are your main requirements, the Santa Fe is a very strong contender. In fact, its third row is far more spacious than those of the Discovery Sport and Rexton. Likewise, that refined and powerful engine mean it’s as capable around town as it is blasting down the motorway. So, if you're budget is high enough, it certainly gets my vote.

Hyundai Santa Fe – test data

Dealer price now: £29,693 Private price now: £26,393 Trade-in price: £27,345 Test economy: 35.8mpg Official average: 38.7mpg (WLTP combined) Contract hire: £392 Total running cost: £874 Insurance Group: 40 Typical insurance quote: £1002

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