A mid-size SUV, the Hyundai Santa Fe began production in 2000. It is still in production today and is on its third iteration with the third-generation Santa Fe developed for the 2013 model year. The Santa Fe is based off the Sonata platform and holds the distinction of being the first SUV offered by Hyundai. Not everyone was a fan of how the original Santa Fe looked but nevertheless it was warmly received by the North American market. The popularity of the Santa Fe made it a best-seller in the South Korean car manufacturer’s lineup and was responsible as well for making Hyundai a success in the US. The second-generation model was unveiled in 2008 while the third-generation Santa Fe came out in 2012.
The Hyundai Santa Fe cruises more confidently now because of the restyling it’s gone through, giving it a refreshed look without being too dramatic. It is also longer by 30mm but slimmer by 10mm and shorter in height by 80mm. These measurements are aimed at making the Santa Fe more dynamic by allowing it to go from being a soft-roader to being a crossover. But given such a change, the Santa Fe remains to be one of the more mature and sensible cars in its class.
Santa Fes released in the UK are not of the long-wheelbase version but they do come with three rows of seats like their older brother. And even though there’s really just a marginal increase in length and a decrease in the roofline, the Santa Fe has managed to increase headroom inside and legroom for the middle row. Seats also slide so passengers in front and the middle should have no problems with space. Seats at the third row can also be folded flat into the floor to increase boot space.
The Santa Fe also retained much of the functionality that made the previous model work, sticking to clear dials and logically placed switchgear. Material choices have improved though so while the interior may more or less look the same it feels better this time around.
The Santa Fe is also effortless to drive, which may come as a surprise given that it’s a seven-seater vehicle. For its size, it is easy and light to use with a manual gearbox while an automatic gearbox makes the Santa Fe pull away from a standstill with so much ease. Road and wind noise are also kept relatively low so you can travel in peace. And even under slippery conditions, the Santa Fe has consistent grip that offers driving comfort and security at the same time. Pleasantly surprising, the Santa Fe handles even more comfortably when it has a load comprised of four passengers and a boot half full.
While up to 70% of cars in the UK will feature automatic gearboxes, having one with the Hyundai Santa Fe is a drawback because it cut backs on the efficiency of the entire vehicle. Where a 2WD manual gearbox offers 47.9mpg, a 4WD automatic system brings the number down to 41.5mpg.
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