- Super spacious
- Tons of tech in Ultimate spec
- Eye-catching aesthetics
- Enjoyable and comfortable to drive
MPVs were once considered the answer for big families on the move. But the 7-seaters with van-like looks didn’t quite cut it with fashion-conscious UK car buyers.
Then along came the all-conquering SUV. The off-roading personality got pushed aside somewhat and the focus was firmly placed on comfort and luxury.
The new breed of big, practical soft-roaders with three rows of seats was created and hasn’t looked back since.
There are a host of well-made, comfortable alternatives costing much less and offering almost as much.
One of the best examples is the Hyundai Santa Fe, a 7-seater with bags of kit on board, four-wheel drive for the odd gymkhana trip or boat towing, and looks that are more engaging than most.
Engines and Performance
An extensive facelift in 2021 lifted it upmarket and gave it hybrid power, boosting performance and economy as well allowing it to be cleaner than the old diesel.
Up front there’s a 1.6-litre petrol turbo 4-cylinder engine and a 59bhp electric motor coupled to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. It will polish off the 62mph dash in a reasonably nimble 9.1 seconds and go on to a top speed of 116mph.
Although the unit is quiet and refined when cruising, the engine sounds a bit busy and strained when pressing on.
Cornering is pleasantly flat and roll-free despite its considerable height and girth and while handling can’t be considered sporty, it feels well planted on the road with good dynamics.
Expect the latest petrol hybrid to be about as economical as the old diesel model, despite a hike in power. Our average hovered around the 40mpg mark, which is impressive for such a large family car. Emissions are also reasonably low.
Roomier than the previous model, the current version is a genuine seven-seater with enough room for two third row passengers to sit comfortably.
Space and comfort are areas where the Santa Fe shows its prowess.
Head and legroom in the two forward rows is decent, and the environment is smart and cosseting with plenty of tactile, high-grade mouldings. The two third row seats are operated electrically by a switch.
Boot space is generous, with 571 litres available when the final two seats are folded flat. Lower all five rear seats and there’s 1,649 litres of cargo room. Comfort is further aided by the flat floor, which allows you to stretch your legs out.
Equipment and Technology
The top-of-the-range Ultimate gets a huge panoramic glass sunroof, ventilated front seats with memory settings, head-up display and 10-speaker audio system.
Families will delight in the amount of cupholders, cubbies, and storage bins available to absorb the usual bits and pieces.
With an efficient hybrid powertrain, huge practicality, stylish looks, and a likeable nature, the latest Santa Fe deserves to be near the top of the shopping list. And in Ultimate specification, it offers all the gadgets you need, and more.