Review: Hyundai Santa Fe (2001 – 2006)

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Pleasant, relaxing drive. Kitted out generously. V6 makes a good sound. A lot of 4x4 for the money.

A RAV4, CR-V and Freelander all drive better. The styling is an acquired taste. Diesel auto is a sluggish combination. Awful stereo.

Hyundai Santa Fe (2001 – 2006): At A Glance

"Organic" is the best word to describe it: a bit like H. Gigor's sets for the original Alien movie. Pop the bonnet and you half expect something with a lot of teeth to jump down your throat. Instead, you find a transverse V6, like the one in the Lexus RX300.

Hyundai prefers to call it "muscular". And that's how the 2.7 V6 sounds when you fire it up. You feel like you're in a big Surrey School Run SUV, yet you only forked out £17,995 for it, brand new with a five year warranty.

Hyundai Santa Fe 2004 Road Test

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What does a Hyundai Santa Fe (2001 – 2006) cost?

List Price from £39,420
Buy new from £32,270
Contract hire from £349.82 per month

Hyundai Santa Fe (2001 – 2006): What's It Like Inside?

Passengers are also well catered for with lots of rear legroom, semi-reclining rear seats and bags of room for bags.

The standard fittings read like an accessory list and include a lift up rear window, electric tilt/slide sunroof, aircon, roof bars, alloy wheels, and in the CDX climate control, cruise control, leather and autobox.

Child seats that fit a Hyundai Santa Fe (2001 – 2006)

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What's the Hyundai Santa Fe (2001 – 2006) like to drive?

The handling doesn't encourage you to take liberties. It isn't in the same class as a RAV-4, for example. But it isn't excessively woolly or vague either. There's just enough steering ‘feel' to put you in touch with what's going on, yet it remains light enough to isolate you from harshness. There is a bit of road noise, and a lot of rear tyre roar in the rain, but otherwise the Santa Fe is quite a pleasant, relaxing place to be on a long motorway run. 

225/70 R16 tyres are built for bouncing over kerbs, road humps, pot-holes and other traffic harming measures. But they don't ride them as well as an X-Trail or RAV-4. And I can't tell you how the car performs off road because I didn't. In case you want to, the car has a unique ‘double differential unit' which in normal conditions channels 60% of power to the front wheels and 40% to the rears. Each pair has a limited slip differential and an additional viscous coupling between front and rear wheels detects any lack of traction and channels torque to the pair with the most. That's it. No manual over-rides or diff locks or anything like that. Just a simple system that should get the car out of trouble, but doesn't make it a serious off-roader like a KIA Sorento, for example.

I didn't do a proper check, but the official consumption figure of 25mpg combined is probably a bit pessimistic. The tank did not seem to empty very quickly, anyway.

As my week motored on I got to like the Santa Fe rather more than in the beginning. Especially after I checked the price list, which starts at £15,995 for the comprehensively equipped 2.4GSI manual and tops out at a mere £17,995 for the full-house 2.7 V6 CDX automatic I was driving. It's an awful lot of car for the money. In comparison, 5-door Freelanders start at £17,995 for the most basic 1.8 and end at £26,595 for the 2.5V6 auto equipped to the same level as the Hyundai. X-Trails kick off at £16,995 for the 2.0SE and rise to £23,395 for the most expensive diesel. RAV-4 5-drs are £17,008 to £22,008. CRVs are £16,913 to £20,913. Even the (bigger) KIA Sorento is £18,498 to £22,758. So it's easy to see why, with Hyundai's 5 year warranty, so many drivers are plumping for the pumped-up Santa Fe.

What have we been asked about the Hyundai Santa Fe (2001 – 2006)?

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Faulty Hyundai Santa Fe who's liable for the repair costs?

An elderly friend of mine has bought a 2002 Hyundai Santa Fe. He paid £2800 about a month ago and lives a long way from the dealer as it was the only car that matched his budget. He thought the handbrake was faulty so took it to his local Hyundai dealer. They have said that the driveshafts need to be removed to get to the discs, but they cannot remove them as they have rusted on. They have had the car for over a week and now want him to pay £900 labour charge for their attempts to repair - the car cannot be driven and would need to be trailered away. Or, for £1800 they will replace the driveshafts and fix the handbrake. Where does he stand please?
He should not have commissioned the work with his local Hyundai dealer. That was his mistake. He should have contacted the dealer who sold him the car who would have been liable for any serious fault that pre-existed the purchase, and could have refunded the purchase price, but is not liable for the expensive work that your friend commissioned. Faults like this are anyway to be expected on a 13 year old vehicle.
Answered by Honest John
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