In a study carried out by Hyundai themselves, it was found that the brand name “Santa Fe” is more recognisable to consumers globally than the name “Hyundai”. Arguably then, the Santa Fe is Hyundai’s best known model. In Ireland though, it hasn’t been their best seller for quite some time.
There’s no shortage of Hyundais on Irish roads with them being the third best selling make for the last two years. But, most drivers looking for an SUV have opted for the more compact Kona and Tucson. This makes sense, at the end of the day, the Tucson and Kona’s starting prices are between 15 and 20 thousand euro less than their big brother’s. And, not every family needs a 7 seater. If you are looking at a 7 seater, family sized SUV, the all-new Santa Fe may well be just what the doctor ordered.
Regardless of which trim level you opt for, the exterior styling of the new Santa Fe is pretty much the same. Unlike other manufacturers who like to save the best looking details for the most expensive packages, all the Santa Fe’s trim levels feel just as stylish from the outside. There are nice metallic flashes that contrast with the body colour. You’ll find a healthily aggressive front grille. Moving up the spectrum from “Comfort Plus” to “Premium Plus” will bag you 19 inch wheels as opposed to the entry level 17″ and a slightly different finish on the door handles and grille, but otherwise you won’t feel like you’re missing out massively by opting for one of the lower packages.
The noticeable differences between the Comfort, Executive, and Premium trim levels is on the inside of the Santa Fe. Moving up the ranks you’ll find leather rather than cloth seat fabric. A 7″ instrument screen rather than a 3.5″. The Comfort Plus doesn’t come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, whereas the higher level trims do. The Premium model has a heads-up display. Executive and Premium get front and rear parking sensors and a rear camera and parking guidance system.
Everything inside feels pretty expensive, well built and sturdy. The infotainment system is at a good height, and it’s easy to use and responsive. The seats and steering wheel have a lot of adjustment possibilities so you should be able to find the perfect driving position. All trim levels get adjustable lumbar support. Front and rear seats are heated, perfect for a frosty December school-run.
As you’d expect in a larger vehicle, there’s loads of storage space dotted around the cabin. The door bins are a useful size, though the glove-box isn’t the largest. Getting into the rear is made easy by the large rear doors, great if you’re fitting a child-seat to either of the isofix points or adjusting the kids’ seatbelts. Access to the back row of seats is easy with a push button, so you don’t need to search for a lever behind or under the seats. Leg and headroom is good in the centre row of seats and not actually that bad in the rear, though you’ll most likely want to stick the smallest ones in the very back and put any adult passengers you have in the centre row.
The Santa Fe has a number of touches that make for a very practical experience. As mentioned above, access to the rear seats is easier than in some other 7 seaters. Loading and unloading from the boot is simple and straightforward. There isn’t a load lip and the opening is square. The rear seats fold down very easily and lie flat. The centre seats can be folded automatically with a switch by the boot door, so you don’t need to clamber inside or lower them from the side doors. With the seats flat there’s an abundance of space for luggage, a few bikes, or some fully assembled flat-pack furniture. Even with all 7 seats in place there’s still room in the boot for a couple of suitcases.
The Santa Fe received a 5 star safety rating from Euro NCAP as well as a SAFETYBEST award for its innovative safety technology. Regardless of trim level, you’ll find features such as Lane Keeping Assist, Driver fatigue Detection, and Autonomous Emergency Braking.
Driving a 7 seater SUV is never going to be as cheap as a 900cc hatchback, but the improvements to the 2.2 litre engine in the new Santa Fe mean it isn’t as expensive to run as you might think. CO2 emissions have been reduced since the last generation and so, depending on your choice of all-wheel-drive / 2 wheel drive or manual versus automatic, you could be paying as little as €390 annual road tax. The Santa Fe only comes with a diesel engine, so fuel costs won’t be as high as they could.
Fuel consumption is also fairly decent, rural driving should see you getting around 50 miles to the gallon, again, this will vary depending on model choice. Urban driving is less efficient, but you should still find a fuel economy of around 38 mpg.
Pricing starts at a recommended €42,995 for the entry level, 2-wheel-drive Comfort Plus model, though our pick of the crop is the all-wheel-drive, automatic, Executive Plus. Prices for this model start at an RRP of €51,995.