Hyundai Santa Fe Review

heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

Hyundai Santa FE
Hyundai Santa FE


1 / 9

heycar rating
"Spacious yet expensive family SUV"
  • Launched: 2018
  • SUV
  • Diesel

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Quick overview


  • Very spacious SUV
  • Refined diesel engine
  • Long list of standard equipment


  • Bold looks won’t appeal to everyone
  • Limited engine line-up (there’s just one)
  • No longer a budget option

Overall verdict

On the inside


Cost to run

Prices and Specs

Overall verdict

"You could save a lot of money and buy a Skoda Kodiaq, but the Hyundai Santa Fe is a luxurious choice and comes with a lot of standard equipment. It’s comfortable and extremely practical, making it that little bit easier to justify."

Hyundai Santa Fe frontright exterior

The Hyundai Santa Fe has always been a strong choice for car buyers searching for a practical family SUV on a budget. Only, it’s not really a cheap option these days - you won’t get much change from £40,000 when new for one of the most affordable models, putting it firmly in Land Rover Discovery Sport territory.

Don’t let that put you off straight away, though. The Hyundai Santa Fe’s high list price is reflective of the huge amount of kit you get for your money, while the wonders of depreciation mean you can get a bargain on the used market. Suddenly, the Santa Fe starts to look like a very competitive rival to the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, Peugeot 5008 and Kia Sorento.

Don’t mistake this for a car-like crossover, though. It’s a big SUV with masses of space. You sit high up, with big comfortable seats providing a Range-Rover-like driving position. It’s certainly a car that will happily waft along for hundreds of miles and leave you feeling very relaxed when you arrive at your destination.

There’s space for adults in the back with generous head- and legroom and all Santa Fe models come with a third row of seats in the boot. These are better than most - certainly more accessible than those in the Skoda Kodiaq - although you still might be better at looking at a ‘proper’ people carrier if you regularly carry lots of passengers.

With the rear-most seats in use, the Santa Fe has a pretty small boot, although dropping them is a simple process and leaves the kind of big boot you’d expect from a car of this size (although it’s not quite as cavernous as the Skoda Kodiaq). 

The interior feels pleasingly premium for a car that sports the Hyundai badge. There are lots of plush materials that feel soft to touch, while even the most affordable models come with plenty of leather trim. What would you expect from a car that starts at close to £40,000 when new, though?

Standard specification is generous, with the top-spec Premium SE model coming fully loaded: ventilated seats, an opening panoramic sunroof and a head-up display are all chucked in without the original owner needing to raid the options list.

Most models come with an eight-inch navigation system which looks pretty smart and is easy to use, with intuitive menus and lightning-quick responses. You get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, too, so you can scroll through your Spotify playlists or navigate using Google Maps.

While diesel is seen as a dirty word these days, Hyundai only offers one engine in the Santa Fe range: a 2.2-litre turbodiesel which produces 200PS and 400Nm of torque. If all you use your car for is the school run, you’d be better looking elsewhere, but it’s an engine that suits the car well. It provides plenty of grunt for carrying a car-full of passengers or even lugging a trailer, and it settles into a refined (and economical) cruise at motorway speeds.

Hyundai’s decided against giving its Santa Fe a sporting edge, which is refreshing when too many rivals demonstrate taut body control and an overly-firm ride. It has light steering which is great when tackling city-centre car parks but not so confidence-inspiring on twisty roads, while the suspension is on the floaty side. That’s largely a good thing as it’ll glide nicely over broken road surfaces.

A high price tag means the Hyundai Santa Fe isn’t as popular as it once was, but it still holds plenty of appeal. Look beyond the badge and you’ll find a very capable and comfortable family SUV, while a transferable five-year warranty and reputation for dependability adds to its appeal.

Is the Hyundai Santa Fe right for you?

If a diesel suits the kind of driving you plan to do and you need a practical family SUV, the Hyundai Santa Fe is a strong choice. It’s not the cheapest option and the line-up is limited, but for some buyers, the Hyundai Santa Fe could be a really good choice.

What’s the best Hyundai Santa Fe model/engine to choose?

There isn’t an extensive engine line-up to choose from, so the choice comes down to whether you want a manual or automatic gearbox. The manual’s pretty good and has a higher towing capacity than the auto (2500kg vs 2000kg), although we think the eight-speed automatic transmission makes for a relaxed drive and would be our choice.

In terms of trim level, the mid-spec Premium model will tick all the boxes for a lot of buyers. While the Premium SE is expensive, it’s very popular on the used market, and you do get an awful lot of equipment for your cash.

What other cars are similar to the Hyundai Santa Fe?

There’s some strong competition in the form of the SEAT Tarraco, Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, all of which offer seven seats and a wider engine line-up than the Hyundai Santa Fe. The Peugeot 5008 is another very strong contender, as well as the Kia Sorento. You could even compare the Hyundai Santa Fe to premium alternatives like the Land Rover Discovery Sport. There’s the Nissan X-Trail, too, but the less said about that the better.

On the inside

"The Hyundai Santa Fe is a big car with loads of interior space for all the family. All models come with seven seats and, while you’d be better looking at a versatile people carrier if you regularly travel seven-up, the rear-most seats are more useful than those found in alternatives like the Skoda Kodiaq. When the third row isn’t in use, it drops into the floor to provide a large boot 567-litre boot (1625 litres with the second row of seats dropped)."

Hyundai Santa Fe front interior

There’s loads of space in the front, with lots of useful storage areas and large, comfortable seats providing a good view of the road ahead. It also feels very premium, especially in Premium or Premium SE flavour.

These trim levels come with a standard eight-inch navigation system which looks the part and is positioned high up, meaning you can glance at it easily when driving. It’s a pretty good infotainment system, with clear graphics and fast responses - while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, allowing you to mirror apps from your phone.


"While rival SUVs are dropping diesels from their line-ups in favour of petrol and hybrid models, the Hyundai Santa Fe is only available with one engine. And it’s a 2.2-litre turbodiesel."

Hyundai Santa Fe backright exterior

Fortunately, it’s a pretty good one. With 200PS and 440Nm on tap, it makes for a strong tow car and is quick enough for day-to-day driving. You can opt for a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission, while both come with four-wheel drive. It’s not going to keep up with a Land Rover Discovery Sport, but its four-wheel-drive system should give you extra confidence in wintery conditions.

You’ll feel the Hyundai Santa Fe’s dimensions in town centres, although visibility is good and there’s plenty of tech on offer to make your life easier. A high seating position contributes to a feeling of solidness and safety at motorway speeds, while it’s a very refined choice at higher speeds.

How much does it cost to run

"The Hyundai Santa Fe is quite a big car but, thanks to its frugal diesel engine, it shouldn’t cost a fortune to run. Officially, it returns up to 42.8mpg in WLTP fuel economy tests, dropping to 40.9mpg with the automatic gearbox."

Hyundai Santa Fe rightside exterior

That should be fairly achievable in the real world although, with a 71-litre fuel tank, you’ll still be looking at a fairly considerable bill to fill up from empty.

One costly expense that’s worth bearing in mind is car tax (VED). This will cost a flat rate of £150 a year after the first year, plus a premium of £325 a year for five years (from the second time the car’s taxed) for cars with a list price of more than £40,000. That’s most Santa Fe models - even if you pay significantly less than this.

Prices, versions and specification

"The Hyundai SE range kicks off with the SE model, which only sells in very small numbers and is actually a pretty rare sight on the used market."

Hyundai Santa Fe dashboard

Standard equipment includes a seven-inch media system (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), dual-zone climate control and 17-inch alloy wheels. There’s a host of driver-assistance tech, too, ranging from adaptive cruise control to autonomous emergency braking and a reversing camera.

The Hyundai Santa Fe Premium adds things like 18-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch navigation system and a premium sound system. It comes with heated leather seats with electric adjustment (in the front) and a heated steering wheel. There’s an electric tailgate, a blind-spot detection system and LED headlights.

For the ultimate posh Hyundai Santa Fe, the Premium SE comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, cornering lights, ventilated front seats and a memory function for the electric driver’s seat. A head-up display is standard, as is a surround-view monitor for parking and an opening panoramic sunroof.

Hyundai Santa FE cars for sale on heycar

Number of cars available
£14K - £48K
Price bracket of these cars
WhiteBlack+ 6 more
Colours available on heycar
5 doors
Door options available

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