Unbiased Review and Comparison: Hyundai Sante Fe

Note 1 from the blogger: “It is good to sometimes stand back and review a vehicle against its competitors. As they say...competition is good."

The Santa Fe is Hyundai’s largest SUV. It offers the rugged go-anywhere ability and high driving position that SUV buyers want, along with a healthy dose of space and practicality.

In fact, it’s one of the few SUVs available with seven seats, making it a genuine alternative to a large MPV, although its natural rivals are the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the Nissan X-Trail. High-end five-seat versions are also priced against the likes of the BMW X3.

Apart from the sheer amount of space it offers, it majors on comfort and a generous equipment list. Every version also comes with four-wheel drive, which will help when towing or when the roads are slippery. It’s not particularly refined, though, and that comfortable ride comes at the expense of sloppy body control; many rivals are better at combining comfort and control.

Also, if you won’t use all seven seats, be absolutely sure you need an SUV this big; slightly smaller alternatives such as the Mazda CX-5 and Nissan Qashqai are still spacious and practical, yet are better to drive and cheaper to buy.

Hyundai Santa Fe performance

Diesel engine is up to the job

There’s no scratching your head over engine choice. The only engine is a 194bhp 2.2-litre diesel, which makes the Santa Fe feel as comfortable climbing steep inclines and overtaking on fast country roads as it does pottering around town. It is a little flat at low revs, but it pulls strongly with no sudden surges as the turbo kicks in, making the Santa Fe usefully faster than rivals such as the Nissan X-Trail.

Every version has four-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. The gearbox has evenly spaced gears and works well with the engine, but we’d go for the optional six-speed automatic. True, this can be a little slow to respond when you ask for a burst of acceleration, but it’s fine at normal speeds and suits the Santa Fe’s big, effortless SUV feel.

Hyundai Santa Fe ride comfort

Soaks up most of what’s thrown at it

Hyundai’s focus with the Santa Fe was to make it as comfortable as possible – and it has succeeded. It manages to stay composed over speeds bumps and other large intrusions around town, and broken surfaces don’t unsettle it too much.

Get up to motorway speeds and the Santa Fe is similarly impressive, smoothly away most sharp edges well.

In short, when it comes to ride comfort, the Hyundai Santa Fe has rivals such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Nissan X-Trail beaten.

Hyundai Santa Fe handling

Not the sharpest SUV on the market, but adequate

Hyundai’s intention to put comfort before agility is evident as soon as you carry anything more than moderate pace through a bend. The Santa Fe’s body leans over quite a way, making it feel cumbersome. There’s a bit of body float over particularly big undulations on the motorway, too. Its steering doesn’t help, either. It’s remote and inconsistently weighted, which makes it hard to judge where the front tyres are pointing and how well they’re gripping.

However, the Santa Fe isn’t really designed to be pushed hard and at least its steering is light enough to make easy work of parking in town. The thing is, a Nissan X-Trail manages this as well, plus it’s sharper to drive at higher speeds, while a BMW X3 is in a different league entirely.

Hyundai Santa Fe refinement

Engine and wind noise are the biggest issues

The Santa Fe isn’t the quietest or most relaxing way to transport you and your family. Engine noise isn’t too intrusive at low revs, but push it beyond around 2000rpm and it becomes gruff. At higher revs, you can also feel a fair amount of vibration through the steering wheel and pedals; in manual models, this comes through the gearlever as well.

The engine has a chance to settle a tad on the motorway, but then you’re more likely to notice the sound of the wind rushing over the large door mirrors.

At least road noise is kept at bay pretty well, while the optional automatic gearbox shifts gear smoothly enough. The manual gearbox has a notchy shift.

Ultimately, a Nissan X-Trail has far better engine refinement than the Santa Fe, while a Land Rover Discovery Sport or BMW X3 do a better job of keeping wind and road noise outside.

Original Article Source: http://www.whatcar.com/hyundai/santa-fe/4x4/review/

Note 2 from the blogger: “Ultimately it is you, the driver and the owner to choose the vehicle that best suits your needs - your pocket, your lifestyle and your family. To test drive a Hyundai Santa Fe, contact a reputable Hyundai dealership, such as Group 1 Hyundai, need you."