ENGINES – Big SUVs means big engines, and Hyundai’s Santa Fe is no different. In a nod to its USA market roots you can have a V6 petrol motor, while the more sensible choice for European buyers will always be the more frugal 2.2-litre diesel option. Predictably the latter will be kinder on your wallet, yet gives little away in terms of real world performance to the petrol V6.
EXTERIOR – A streamlined and pleasingly low-key exterior design helps to disguise the Santa Fe’s bulk. This medium-size SUV boasts a considerable footprint but you don’t fully appreciate it thanks to the Hyundai’s sleek profile and rounded corners. A further pleasing element is the car’s lack of ‘bling’, which is welcome in the face of more glitzy rivals.
INTERIOR – Like its exterior, the Santa Fe’s interior is a modestly styled environment. With the inclusion of lots of dark plastic, the emphasis is clearly on durability – exactly what you’d expect from a genuine SUV. There’s plenty of space fore and aft plus no shortage of toys, ensuring that the Santa Fe’s cabin is a family friendly one.
DRIVING – Big, tall SUVs will never rival conventional cars for agility and stability on road, but the Santa Fe’s set-up does result in a welcome modest level of pitch and roll. It’s not a car to throw around but it’s refined and a capable tow car and off-roader. The willing diesel engine is the icing on the cake.
OWNERSHIP – Opt for the oil-burning model and you can keep a fair chunk of your cash in your wallet. The torquey diesel motor ensures a relaxed and refined driving experience, while the high levels of comfort, standard kit and cabin space should prove a winning combination for active families on a budget.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR – Being a popular family car, make sure that the cabin is free from damage such as ill-fitting or broken trim and soiled fabrics. If a tow bar is present, always ask what it was used for, as you don’t want to later find that the car was pushed beyond its limits. The same goes for the car’s off-roading abilities, as a quick visual underbody inspection should highlight any damage. On the test drive be alert to any unusual noises or behaviour that might prove costly later in the car’s life.
2006: Hyundai unveils its latest generation mid-size Santa Fe SUV. Available with both petrol and diesel engines and an auto gearbox option, this full-spec 4x4 offered a high level of standard kit plus solid off-roading ability. A late model refresh programme included a few subtle styling tweaks and equipment changes.
REASONS TO BUY – off-roading and towing ability, good value, practical cabin, seven-seat option
REASONS TO BEWARE – cabin ambience can’t match European rivals, thirsty petrol option, modest diesel performance
PICK OF THE RANGE – Santa Fe 2.2 CRTD CDX auto 5 seat
WHAT TO PAY
2006 56 8,555
2007 07 9,390
2007 57 9,735
2008 08 10,870
2008 58 11,410
2009 09 12,695
2009 59 13,165
Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.