Hyundai Santa Fe review 2020

Find out more about the Hyundai Santa Fe in the latest MOTORS Review

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Out of 5


  • Very practical
  • Comfortable
  • Good value for money


  • Uninspiring handling
  • Limited powertrain choice
  • Slightly bland interior
Model review

The Hyundai Santa Fe is a mid-size SUV that first arrived on the scene in 2001. It makes use of rugged styling, so it looks like a proper off-roader, but is more of a family SUV than anything else. It was constantly updated throughout its lifecycle, gaining new engines and refreshed styling, until, in 2007, the second generation model arrived 


This second version entered the market sporting an all-new look, with Hyundai ditching some of the rugged styling in favour of a more road-orientated design. It definitely has more presence than the car that preceded it. Again, it was updated and revised throughout the following years, receiving a facelift in 2010 and a new grille for 2011.  


The third-generation iteration began production in 2012. It built upon the look of the previous one but is much more modern inside and out. Its design is sharper and, although it didn’t receive quite as many updates as its predecessor, it felt reasonably up to date with the competition. That was until 2018 when the current fourth generation model arrived – and that’s on another level. 

Current model

As stated previously, the current Santa Fe came out in 2018. Hyundai has really made the car look much more upmarket than the reasonable price suggests. In terms of the exterior, it certainly stands out – and not just because it’s a pretty big SUV. It’s aggressive front facia, with its bold cascading grille and slim headlights, is one of its most notable features. 


The interior is not necessarily as interesting to look at as the exterior, which is a slight disappointment. It’s a nice place to be, there’s no doubt about that – but there’s not much going on in terms of flare and character. On the other hand, all the buttons are clearly laid out and everything is easy to use. Also, it is quite stylish as the door trim flows into the upper dashboard.   


Get the Sante Fe onto the open road and you’ll find it’s a very comfortable cruiser. The ride is well-judged and deals with bumps and imperfections in the road nicely. Our only gripe is that the driving experience doesn’t inspire confidence. There’s not much feel through the steering and that results in handling that comes off as slightly vague.  


Value for money

New Hyundai Santa Fe models are priced from £33,450, which is about in-line with its rivals, such as the £28,015 Peugeot 5008 and £37,020 Ford Edge. Cars in this segment tend to differ quite heavily in terms of pricing, so it’s nice to see the Santa Fe sit somewhat in the middle. 

Cheapest Santa Fes – on the used market – will be first generation examples with high miles on-the-clock. That being said, they go for a bargain – as little as £650. Current generation models, on the other hand, are still rather new, meaning buyers will have to fork out £27,500 at the least to get one of those. 


Looks and image

The latest Santa Fe is arguably the best-looking version of the model there’s ever been. It’s sharp and striking, although not too out-there, meaning the styling shouldn’t go as far as to offend anyone. It’s aggressive too, and looks rather sporty and confident with its narrow, slanting headlights. If a hot N version is produced – which isn’t an impossible thought in the performance SUV-filled world we live in today – it’ll only good to add even more appeal in this area. 


Space and practicality

This is an area where the model excels. Cabin space is very good and there’s seven seats on offer. Although the rear-most row is really only meant for children, all passengers should easily be able to get comfortable. Even taller adults – bar the third row – shouldn’t have any complaints.  

With the third row folded, boot space stands at a very respectable 625 litres – compared to rivals that’s about par. Fold the second row down, however, and suddenly there’s a whopping 1,625 litres to play with, so it’s possible to use the Santa Fe as a useful load-lugger 



The Santa Fe is currently only available with one diesel engine – no petrol, hybrid (on its way) or EV powertrains are offered as of yet. It’s 197bhp 2.2-litre can be had with a manual or automatic gearbox, with power being sent through a front- or four-wheel drive system.  

It’s a pretty nippy motor and, when mated to the eight-speed automatic transmission, is able to get the Santa Fe from 0-60mph in 9.3 seconds – not bad for a family SUV. We would like more options in terms of engines, but luckily, they’re on the way and should be available to the car in the not too distant future. 


Running costs

For quite a large SUV, the Santa Fe manages fairly good fuel economy figures. When fitted with the manual gearbox and front-wheel-drive, it’ll achieve a claimed 47.1mpg, while emitting just 158g/km of CO2. This shouldn’t differ too much if buyers spring for the automatic gearbox and four-wheel-drive. On the whole, it’s a reasonably economic diesel engine that should be relatively cheap to run. 

Things to look out for

As the latest Santa Fe only arrived in the last year, it’ll be too early to fully predict how it’ll fair reliability-wise in the long-term. We can, however, look at Hyundai’s reliability as a manufacturer – which is pretty good and currently, it’s probably the best it’s ever been. In reliability surveys, very few owners are identifying faults with their cars within the first year of ownership. With this in mind, the Santa Fe should serve buyers well. 



For this, we’ll be excluding cars in the class which are a tad too upmarket to be in direct competition with the Santa Fe –  such as the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Mercedes GLE. With those out the way, the humble Hyundai is up against the likes of the Skoda Kodiaq, Peugeot 5008, Kia Sorento and Nissan X-Trail to name a few. However, the Santa Fe does stand out from the crowd for many reasons, including its striking styling and immense practicality.  



Again, because the new Santa Fe hasn’t been around for that long at the time of writing, it’s difficult to pinpoint how well it’ll fare here. Currently, however, relatively new Santa Fes of the fourth generation should hold their value rather well, due to it being new and in a desirable class. In addition, it’s striking looks give it quite the presence out on the road and this should add to that too. 

Trims explained

There are currently three trim levels to choose from – SE, Premium and Premium SE.


SE is your entry-level trim, and includes roof rails, Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian recognition (AEB), Driver Attention Alert (DAA) and Isofix child seat anchorage points.

Starts at £33,450


Step up to Premium, and the Santa Fe’s treated to 18-inch alloy wheels, driver’s seat electric adjustments, keyless entry with engine start/stop button, a smart electric tailgate and LED headlights.

Starts at £37,010

'Premium SE'

Topping the range is the Premium SE trim. It comes with driver’s seat memory function, a head-up display (HUD), ventilated front seats and a panoramic glass electric tilt and slide sunroof.

Starts at £41,520


  1. The Hyundai Santa Fe is an attractive mid-sized SUV
  2. It first arrived in 2001 and is now in its fourth generation
  3. The current generation, which came about in 2018, is better than ever before
  4. It’s very practical, with seven seats offered as standard
  5. The car is a comfortable cruiser, but its handling is rather uninspiring and vague
  6. There’s just one engine available at the moment – a 2.2-litre diesel
  7. Further versions, such as a hybrid, are on the way
  8. There’s a simple selection of three trim levels
  9. New Hyundai Santa Fes start at £33,450
  10. Used ones go for a bargain – as little as £650 – although they are first generation examples with high miles-on-the-clock

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