Review: Hyundai Santa Fe (2018)

Rating:

Versatile seven-seat SUV. Very good 2.2 CRDi diesel engine available with slick eight-speed automatic transmission. Lots of standard equipment.

Top models now close to £44k. No petrol or hybrid.

Hyundai Santa Fe (2018): At A Glance

Korean firm Hyundai has done a terrific job of building itself a reputation for sensible and reliable cars in recent years. Relatively affordable list prices combined with generous warranties mean Hyundai - as well as sister brand Kia - have become serious competitors to the likes of Skoda, Ford and Vauxhall.

If you're looking for a seven-seat SUV that offers a heap of practicality for the cash, it makes sense that the Santa Fe will be on your radar, then. But Hyundai's passing through the 'value for money' stage, and is now attempting to move further upmarket. As such, its latest Santa Fe starts at more than £33,000 - that's £5000 more than the cheapest Skoda Kodiaq currently on sale.

Not that you should dismiss the Santa Fe just yet. There are reasons for the hefty price tag. For example, standard kit is quite extensive - with all models getting roof rails, front and rear parking sensors with a rear view camera, privacy glass and dual zone climate control.

The front seats are heated, while the infotainment system provides access to DAB radio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A number of driver assist features are also standard, including cruise control, lane keep assist and autonomous emergency braking.

There's also just one engine: an upgraded version of the old 2.2-litre CRDi diesel producing 200PS. No lethargic petrol engines to provide a headline-grabbing entry-level price here.

Said diesel engine is a quiet and refined unit, providing plenty of torque and creating a rather nippy feel. There's an eight-speed automatic gearbox which is okay, if a bit hesitant to respond quickly. If you really feel the need, you can take control via the paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.

Where the Santa Fe really impresses is its interior. Even the entry-level SE model is good while the top-spec Premium SE is packed with stuff including ventilated front seats, rear window blinds and an opening panoramic roof. The sweet spot in the range, however, is the mid-grade Premium with its heated front and rear seats, LED headlights, premium sound system, eight-inch navigation system and a host of driver assistance features.

There's loads of space, with all models getting seven seats. Adults can comfortably fit in the middle-seats for long journeys, while even the rear-most seats are fine for occasional journeys.

The latest Hyundai Santa Fe represents a huge amount of progress over its predecessor. No longer is it just good 'for the money', it's now a top-drawer SUV in its own right, easily worthy of taking on the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDI Premium SE 2019 Road Test

What does a Hyundai Santa Fe (2018) cost?

List Price from £38,985
Buy new from £31,835
Contract hire from £349.82 per month

Hyundai Santa Fe (2018): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4770 mm
Width 1890 mm
Height 1680 mm
Wheelbase 2765 mm

Full specifications

Jump in the driver's seat and the Hyundai Santa Fe feels like a big car, with a high seating position and imposing view of the road ahead.

It's all rather premium (especially in mid- and top-spec models), with lots of soft-touch materials, although you'll soon hunt out cheaper-feeling plastics if you look for them. Everything feels chunky and well-made, though, as if it'll happily stand up to the rigours of family life.

There's plenty of handy storage, with usefully large door bins and a pair of big cup holders in the centre console.

No matter which trim level you opt for, the Hyundai Santa Fe is a very well equipped car. The entry-level SE comes with a seven-inch touchscreen display in the centre of the dash, providing access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. There's no navigation, but you can use apps on your phone for directions.

Premium and Premium SE models come with a slick eight-inch display, including navigation. It's easy to operate and its position, high up on the dashboard, means it's not too distracting to glance at during driving.

There's loads of space and even the third row of seats are big enough for adults - not something that can be had for all seven-seat SUVs. The rear seats slide backwards and forwards, allowing you to prioritise space where you want it.

When you're not using the third row of seats, they drop easily, leaving a completely flat floor and a big boot.

Our top-spec Premium SE test car was fitted with the standard panoramic sunroof, which did an excellent job of lighting up the cabin, although tall adults sat in the rear might complain that it hinders headroom slightly.

Standard specification (from launch):

SE features 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, leather steering wheel and gear knob, seven seats, driver's seat lumbar support (electric), front passenger's seat manual adjustment, one-touch folding rear seats (second row), 60:40 folding rear seats (front and third row), cloth seat trim, climate control, automatic dimming rear view mirror with compass, automatic headlights, halogen front fog lights, privacy glass, LED rear lights, heated rear windscreen, 12V power outlets in front, rear consoles and luggage compartment, front and rear arm rests, adaptive cruise control with stop and go function, heated folding door mirrors with electric adjustment, drive mode select, electric parking brake, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, self-levelling suspension, space-saver spare wheel, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, DAB radio, teering wheel audio controls, seven-inch touchscreen display, hill-start assist, ISOFIX child seat mounting points on front passenger seat and outer second row seats and lane departure warning system with lane keep assist.

Premium adds 18-inch alloy wheels, faux leather dashboard and door trim, electric driver and passenger seat adjustments, heated front seats and outer rear seats, leather seats, door mirror puddle lights, front LED fog lights, LED headlights, heated steering wheel, smart electric tailgate with handsfree opening, keyless entry, KRELL premium audio system, eight-inch navigation, wireless phone charging pad, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert.

Premium SE comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, driver's seat memory function, ventilated front seats, dynamic cornering lights, manual rear door blinds, panoramic glass electric sunroof, surround view parking monitor, head-up display and rear cross traffic alert with brake assist.

Child seats that fit a Hyundai Santa Fe (2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Hyundai Santa Fe (2018) like to drive?

Don't expect a strong choice of engines if you're considering the Santa Fe. There's just one, a 2.2-litre turbodiesel with 200PS and 440Nm of torque on tap. 

Fortunately, it's a pretty good engine - a bit grumbly on start up, but no more so than diesel rivals. It settles into a hushed, refined drive when on the move, with road and wind noise also well contained.

You can choose from a six-speed manual transmission or eight-speed automatic gearbox. The auto suits the car really well, providing a relaxed drive with well-timed gear changes. It also takes some of the effort out if you plan to use the Santa Fe as a tow car, but it's worth noting that the automatic's towing capacity is 500kg down on the manual - 2000kg versus 2500kg.

There's also a choice of two- and four-wheel-drive. Most buyers would be best catered for with the two-wheel-drive model and the lower running costs that brings, unless you regularly need to venture into muddy fields.

The Santa Fe is unashamedly relaxed in the way that it drives. As such, it rides very well, even on 19-inch alloy wheels. The steering's light and it will lean in the bends, but you'd be better looking at something other than a seven-seat SUV if you want an enjoyable drive.

It feels its size in town, but forward visibility is very good, with that desirable high-up SUV seating position. Threading it through a tight gap requires careful judgement and reversing into a space can be tricky - especially when the car's full of people. Fortunately, a rear camera is standard on all models.

There's a heap of other driver assistance technology also on hand, such as adaptive cruise control (standard on all automatic models) and automatic emergency braking. There's also a blindspot detection system on Premium and Premium SE models.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
2.2 CRDi 2WD 47–48 mpg 9.4 s 150 g/km
2.2 CRDi 4WD 47 mpg 9.5 s 158 g/km
2.2 CRDi Automatic 2WD 47–49 mpg 9.3 s 157 g/km
2.2 CRDi Automatic 4WD 46–47 mpg 9.4 s 162–164 g/km

Real MPG average for a Hyundai Santa Fe (2018)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

85%

Real MPG

33–46 mpg

MPGs submitted

26

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Hyundai Santa Fe (2018)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What's the best seven-seat SUV for tall teenagers?

I've got three kids, two pretty tall teenagers and one in a child seat. We use the rear seats a lot on short journeys and occasionally for journeys over an hour and a half. What should I get if I want an SUV for under £45k?
My money would go on a Skoda Kodiaq or Hyundai Santa Fe. Alternatively, if you'd prefer a more premium choice, a pre-registered Volvo XC90 is within reach and would be a lovely family car.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions