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Hyundai Santa Fe Estate engines, drive and performance

2006 - 2012 (change model)
Performance rating: 4 out of 54.0

Written by David Ross Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

There’s only one engine really worth considering in the Santa Fe and it’s 2.2-litre diesel. The original version develops 148bhp and is surprisingly smooth and quite punchy, making light work of hills, plus it can tow up to 2,200kg. It’s also pretty swift and manages the 0-62mph sprint in 11.6 seconds. It’s a shame then that the gearchange is a little vague.

It comes with a five-speed manual or there’s an optional five-speed automatic that has a sequential manual change function. There is an alternative engine – a 186bhp 2.7-litre V6 with a four-speed auto gearbox. This has been designed for the North American market which prefers four-speed autos but it doesn’t really match up to expectations and is thirsty too, returning just 27mpg.

Unsurprisingly it was dropped from the line-up in mid-2009.

Thanks to a forgiving suspension set-up, the Santa Fe rides exceptionally well, however the trade off is a fair amount of body roll in corners, although it settles quickly and has good grip. The steering doesn’t have a great deal of feel, but it’s pretty well weighted and responsive too, helping the Hyundai feel very composed and settled on the motorway.

It’s in its element on loose gravel or snow and makes light work of the rutted tracks or icy roads. It doesn’t feature many off-road settings, like some other 4x4s have, but it’s still very capable. The four-wheel drive system is a ‘torque-on-demand’ set-up which runs in front-wheel drive but diverts some of the drive to the rear wheels if it detects a loss of grip.

There is also a four-wheel drive lock function if you plan on tackling more demanding terrain or for slippery conditions. An electronic stability programme is fitted to CDX and CDX+ versions and became standard when the Santa Fe was revised in late 2009. Seven seat versions get self-levelling rear suspension, which is ideal if you regularly tow.