site search by freefind
MotorBar: 1200+ unique in-depth car reviews. Plus travel & destinations, and 1000 DVD and CD reviews. Online for 14 years. Written by experts.
Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Style 7-seat Auto

Click to view picture gallery“Hyundais 2012 model year Santa
  Fe comes with loads of space and
  loads of appeal, making it a case of
  ‘good buy
rather than goodbye
  before the next generation model
  appears later this year
...”

THE 2012 VERSION has just received its final updates as an all-new model is due at the end of this year.

The 4X4 Santa Fe has been with us in various incarnations since 2000, and in that time has built up a strong following of dedicated owners who appreciate its proper 4x4 design, strength, durability, space, no-nonsense attractive pricing plus, of course, Hyundai's 5-year unlimited mileage warranty and 5-year triple care package.

Coming from South Korea's largest vehicle manufacturer, the Santa Fe has in twelve years achieved 2.56 million world-wide sales — 350,000 of them in Europe. Whereas the all-new Santa Fe looks a more modern-day sporting SUV, the current 5/7-seater looks like a mid to heavyweight 4x4 more than capable of taking the rough with the smooth demands of country folk, or anybody in need of masses of interior space.

“In normal driving,
the on-demand 4WD
system uses only the
front wheels for
traction; when wheel
slippage is detected,
the system automatically
adds-in rear drive
...”
In normal driving, the Santa Fe's on-demand 4WD system uses only the front wheels for traction; when wheel slippage is detected, the system automatically adds-in rear drive. And when the conditions are tough, the system can be locked in 4WD with a 50:50 front:rear torque split. In addition, there's also a selectable Descent Control for even better off-road mastery.

The 2012 Santa Fe line-up offers eight versions: four/five-seater and four/seven-seaters with a choice of Style or Premium specifications and all powered by a 194bhp four-cylinder 2.2-litre turbodiesel with manual and automatic transmission options and on-demand 4WD. On-the-road prices start at 23,745 and range up to 28,445.

The exterior benefits from minor enhancements: the addition of front and rear skid plates (which add 25mm to the overall length); a change (on Premium models) from silver to black hi-gloss roof rails, high-gloss front fog lamp surrounds (formerly matt black); chrome tailgate trim; new design 18-inch alloys for Premium models — plus this top spec version also comes with leather seat facings.

The interior has also been slightly tweaked with the provision of a wider angle rear-view mirror and a new design shift lever on automatic transmission versions.

With connectivity and navigation now 'high value' requirement for both work or leisure requirements, the 2012 Santa Fe offers Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition as standard. Touchscreen SatNav and rear-view parking camera with parking guidance features are available with the 1,100 'Media Pack' option.

Other changes include the fitment of Downhill Brake Control on automatic models and speed-sensitive automatic door locking on all models.

The 7-seater 2.2 CRDi Style with an auto 'box tested here costs 25,795. I would say this is the most sensible version to go for because automatic transmissions — if not fitted as standard — are by far the most popular option in this 4x4 sector. The Style trim and equipment is the most financially sensible choice — or you can pay an extra 2K to upgrade to a Premium version.

“The Santa Fe offers
a huge load space even
with the middle row
of seats in use.
In five-seat configuration
it provides 969 litres;
but with rows
two and three folded
there’s a huge 2,247-litre
loadbay
...”
Without the roof rails of the top spec version, the refreshed Santa Fe tends to look a bit bland on the outside — during the latest re-style it seems to have lost some of its distinctive character and is now more 'rounded' like a number of other SUVs.

Style trim includes carbon-fibre effect fascia and door trims, AirCon, power windows and door mirrors, decent six-speaker sound system, 60:40 split/folding middle row seats, 50:50 split/folding third row seats, self-levelling rear suspension, Isofix child seat anchorage points, body-coloured door handles and mirrors, mud flaps, rear roof spoiler, twin exhaust pipes, underbody protection plates, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Seven seats, for me, is not necessarily a must-have but when it comes to re-selling you'll find that seven is definitely a better number than five. What I like most about both the past and present Santa Fe is the huge load space even with the middle row of seats in use. In its five-seat configuration the high and wide load area provides 969 litres of space; with them folded there's a huge 2,247 litres that's made even more usable by the flat-folding load-bed. And the seats can be folded down or raised with ease. So whether it's serving as a workhorse, family bus or just for leisure, the Santa Fe is cavernous.

The added option of a six-speed auto takes the stress out of driving long journeys for all users and allows the less able to maintain their motoring mobility — as such it will be sure to appeal to many users. And let's not overlook the fact that the Santa Fe is also a competent tow vehicle: not the ultimate for the maximum weight in this sector, but the 2,500kg braked towing weight for manual transmission versions (2,000kg for the auto) will meet most demands placed upon it.

The ride is relatively comfortable and on the soft side with the suspension being capable rather than taut. The current version's handling control and steering responses are a bit old-school but I actually prefer that — and most people will, too — because it's better than the over-firm ride of some more modern SUVs.

“For? Good value for
money, lots of seating
and load space, practical
and versatile to use,
good on fuel, easy and
comfortable to drive
...”
Two functions that definitely need changing when the new model comes along are the indicators (which are operated by the right-hand steering column stalk and not the universally used and more modern left stalk) and the foot-operated parking brake.

For? Good value for money, lots of seating and load space, practical and versatile to use, good on fuel, and easy and comfortable to drive.

Against? High road tax, foot-operated parking brake, indicator stalk on the 'wrong' side of the steering wheel.

With a next-generation, new-bodied Santa Fe powered by an updated 2.2-litre diesel engine on its way later this year, this just-introduced 2012 version should be available with some keen run-out prices. Customers wanting a sensible, roomy and well equipped multi-seat 4x4 could do far worse than snap-up one of these very usable and durable 2012 versions. — David Miles

Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Style 7-seat Auto | 25,795
Maximum speed: 118mph | 0-62mph: 10.2 seconds | Overall test MPG: 35.9mpg
Power: 194bhp | Torque: 322lb ft | CO2 197g/km