Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2
  • Only one engine on offer in the UK
  • 2.2-litre CRDi diesel produces 440Nm of torque
  • New eight-speed automatic gearbox tested

The sole engine offering in the Hyundai Santa Fe is a 200hp 2.2-litre CRDi turbodiesel. It’s a capable, if not particularly memorable engine, delivering effective low-down pulling power through towards the higher reaches of the rev range. As such, driving around town and on motorways is a civilised affair, with engine noise kept to a minimum under normal load. 

Torque for this engine is rated at 440Nm while 0-62mph is taken care of in 9.4 seconds in manual two-wheel drive and automatic four-wheel drive form, 9.5 seconds in manual four-wheel drive guise and, finally, 9.3 seconds when paired with two-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox. Top speed is 127mph across the board.

Six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic

The Santa Fe is available with both a six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmission. So far, we’ve only driven the latter but can confirm it’s produces smooth and quick gearchanges. There’s no manual override paddles behind the steering wheel, but you can switch and up and down through the gears using the gearlever instead.

How does it handle?

  • Safe and assured but not that exciting
  • Great potential as a tow car
  • We’ve yet to test its off-roading ability

On our initial test drives of the Santa Fe we found the handling was confident and assured, but less enjoyable than, say, a Skoda Kodiaq. Body roll (where the body of the car leans outwards from the chassis when cornering) is noticeable, but not unnerving and builds-up gradually with plenty of control. This is largely irrelevant in a car like this, though, as most buyers just want it to be quiet, refined, comfortable and easy to drive, which it largely nails.

It has a relatively large turning circle, which can mean a bit more work when parking or carrying out a three-point turn, but a suite of sensors and cameras aid manoeuvrability. The steering is accurate enough, though, and switching to Sport drive mode adds extra weight that helps to make the Santa Fe feel a fraction more athletic.

So far, we’ve only driven four-wheel drive versions of the Santa Fe. It’s a capable system, but unless you plan to do mild off-roading, the two-wheel drive version will do just fine. 

Off-road ability: an unanswered question

We’ve yet to test it off-road, but with a revised all-wheel drive system and shorter overhangs at both front and rear, it shouldn’t fare any worse than the previous version of this car, although the furthest it's likely to venture off-road is along a gravel or muddy track, where it'll be absolutely fine. 

And, thanks to its relatively large-capacity 2.2 diesel engine, towing performance is rated at 2,500kg braked and 750kg unbraked – competitive numbers among its contemporaries.