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Hyundai Santa Fe SUV (2004 - 2006) MK1 Facelift review

Read the Hyundai Santa Fe 4x4 (2006 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.

The Auto Trader expert verdict:


The Hyundai Santa Fe is a big 4x4 with a small price-tag. There’s a great level of kit as standard and its all backed by Hyundai’s five-year warranty.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickImpressive level of standard equipment
  • tickFive-year warranty
  • tickRefined ride comfort

At a glance:

How good does it look?

The 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe hasn’t been radically restyled, but with new lights and grille, it’s enough to keep it looking fresh. It still has its Tonka toy looks but Hyundai has since designed some even more handsome products like the i30 and looks more like a Hyundai of old. It still carries its offset rear numberplate next to the boot handle which looks awkward, although it seems to be a Santa Fe trademark.
Expert rating: 3/5

What's the interior like?

Hyundai has replaced the wood-effect trim we criticised on the last model with carbon black, which makes a huge difference, even if it fails to brighten up an otherwise dark interior. The controls remain clearly laid out and easy to use, with the solid feeling that’s commonly found on modern Korean cars. Our Premium model test car came with leather seats, which don’t have the softest feel, but should be hardwearing.
Expert rating: 4/5

How practical is it?

There’s close to 1,000 litres of luggage space with the optional third row folded (or not installed), rising to almost 2,350 with the second row folded. All the rear seats fold flat for a single-level loading bay, and the tailgate splits making loading heavy or bulky objects easy. Seven seaters come with self-levelling suspension, making them particularly suited to towing. There’s a great deal of space for both luggage and occupants around the cabin too.
Expert rating: 4/5

What's it like to drive?

The Santa Fe handles well for a big 4×4 with more direct steering than many of its rivals. Hyundai says the self-levelling suspension aids handling, and doesn’t impact on fuel consumption or emissions. The ride comfort is very good, and the Santa Fe is refined at all speeds.
Expert rating: 3/5

How powerful is it?

Hyundai has dropped the petrol-powered 2.7 V6, leaving only a new 2.2-litre diesel. Choices are limited to whether you want a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox. We tested the manual, which has the upper hand on performance – 9.8 seconds to 62mph, 0.4 less than the auto – making it one of the fastest sub-£35,000, seven-seat 4×4s on the market today. Top speed for both models is 118mph. The new diesel engine has substantially better performance than the old unit. Power is increased by 31 per cent to 194bhp; while pulling power is up by 26 per cent to 311lb/ft (automatic models produce 322lb/ft).
Expert rating: 4/5

How much will it cost me?

The Hyundai Santa Fe is cheap to buy and relatively cheap to run. Hyundai has priced the car less than the pre-facelift model, and it’s affordable for most buyers looking in this class. Benefit in kind has also reduced from 29 per cent to 26 per cent, making it a more attractive proposition for company car drivers. Tax will be reasonably expensive due to emissions of at least 176g/km, but it’s by no means the most costly on the market. Manual gearbox models will clock an official average of 41.5mpg, while the autos will cover 39.2mpg. Service intervals have been doubled to 20,000 miles.
Expert rating: 4/5

How reliable is it?

A five year warranty would cripple a company building cars prone to breakdowns – Hyundai’s warranty speaks volumes about its reliability. The Santa Fe feels robust, and we foresee few problems. There has only been one vehicle recall, to fix a possible suspension issue.
Expert rating: 4/5

How safe is it?

The Hyundai Santa Fe scored four out of five in the Euro NCAP crash test programme. It has a rollover sensor which will automatically deploy side airbags and seat belt pre-tensioners in the event of a roll. All versions are fitted with twin front, side and full length curtain airbags; active head restraints, electronic stability programme (ESP), traction control and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD). An active four wheel-drive system shifts power front and rear to maximise traction and can be locked at the touch of a button.
Expert rating: 3/5

How much equipment do I get?

Hyundai offers two trim levels in the Santa Fe – Style and Premium. The Style features 17-inch alloy wheels, reversing sensors, air-con, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and a gear shift indicator. The Premium adds dual-zone climate control, leather seats, tinted glass, electric driver seat, heated front seats and rain-sensing wipers. Hyundai makes the range pricing very clear.
Expert rating: 4/5

Why buy?

The Hyundai Santa Fe ticks so many boxes for the 4×4 buyer. It’s cheap, comfortable, quick and spacious, but most of all it has that five year warranty.
Expert rating: 4/5

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