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Used test: Hyundai Santa Fe vs Volvo XC90

A big, plush, seven-seater doesn't have to cost a fortune, as the Santa Fe and XC90 both show when used. But which one should you buy?...

Used test: Hyundai Santa Fe vs Volvo XC90

The contenders

Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi 4WD Premium SE auto

List price when new £43,295
Price today £25,000*
Available from 2018-present

The Santa Fe is rugged, spacious and excellent value, especially as a used buy. 

Volvo XC90 2.0 D5 PowerPulse R-Design

List price when new £51,005
Price today £25,000**
Available from 2015-present

A pillar of the class, is the XC90 too posh and practical to turn down?

*Price today is based on a 2018 (**2017) model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

Children, ay, who'd have 'em? Well, as it turns out, a lot of people. And get this: some people even have more than one or two. What a crazy world we live in. 

Those parents out there will likely want a 7-seat car, many of which are SUVs, nowadays. They'll also likely be hesitant to spend their lifesavings on one, seeing as the kids have already taken a large enough bite out of that. Fortunately, the used car market exists and so does the excellent Hyundai Santa Fe – you don't have to settle for a million-year-old example for it to be reasonably priced, either. 

Hyundai Santa Fe front cornering

On the other hand, for similar money, you can pick up a Volvo XC90, the only catch being that it'll be a year older. Volvo is well renowned for building practical cars and the XC90 is no different. It's great, but whether it's better than the Santa Fe is about to be found out. 


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

Both of our contenders are powered by diesel, with the Santa Fe having a 2.2-litre engine and the XC90 a 2.0-litre one. However, despite the XC90 having the marginally smaller engine, it has more power – 232bhp next to the Santa Fe's 197bhp. 

Unsurprisingly then, the XC90 is the quicker car and noticeably so. It managed 0-60mph in 8.1sec during our testing, while the Santa Fe did the sprint in 9.3sec. Still, the Santa Fe offers enough poke, both around town and on the motorway, to satisfy. 

Volvo XC90 front cornering

The Santa Fe has the kind of soft ride you'd expect from this kind of vehicle, smoothening bumps with ease, even if things would be even better if the car was on one of the model's smaller wheel options – as opposed to our test car's 19in wheels. 

Its rival faces a similar problem, albeit this time our issue is with the suspension: our test car's R-Design trim gets stiffer suspension over other XC90s, bringing with it a firmer ride. You could get air suspension when speccing the car from new, but it doesn't make a huge difference. Either way, R-Design isn't the trim you want if comfort is a priority.

So, while the ride is smooth enough most of the time – it's certainly not intolerable – our XC90 test car can't match the cushioning that our Santa Fe brings to the table.

Used Hyundai Santa Fe front wheel

On the other hand, R-Design comes in handy in regards to the XC90's handling. The firmness means that, for an SUV of its size, the XC90 corners with good competency and minimal body lean. The Santa Fe leans more, plus its steering isn't as well weighted, but it's otherwise capable and grippy enough to keep most people happy. 

Road noise is a problem for the XC90 – you can thank its huge tyres for that. It's bearable, but you might want to consider cranking up the Kidz Bop to help drown it out. The Santa Fe is the quieter cruiser. 

Next: What are they like inside? >>

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