Hyundai Santa Fe Review: Final long-term report

$47,490 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
    7.3L
  • Engine Power
    145kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    192g
  • ANCAP Rating
    5Stars

How did Hyundai\'s big SUV go over nine months and 2200km?

After nine months and 2198 kilometres, this is the farewell report for our Hyundai Santa Fe long-termer.

It’s been the exclusive domain of the Spinks household since the late-May birth of son Sebastian, and for this fact alone the big SUV has an emotional connection that means it will be missed.

There are plenty of other reasons for a reluctant farewell.

Apart from being widely regarded one of the best-looking SUVs on the market, the internal size of the Hyundai Santa Fe has made it immensely practical for a first-time family.

Sebastian’s child seat capsule fits into the back seat comfortably without having to compromise the legroom of the front passenger.

Boot space is also fantastic. The pram slides in easily for short trips, while for a long weekend to NSW’s Blue Mountains recently the boot swallowed virtually every item needed – naturally including a vast array of additional baby stuff including travel cot, bouncer, bucket loads of nappies, plus bags of clothes and some tennis racquet bags.

Pity it doesn’t also accommodate extra hours of sleep.

The trip was a chance to stretch the Santa Fe’s legs after being restricted to shorter trips to doctors, hospitals, cafes and shopping centres. And a chance to reflect again on the good and points of the Hyundai’s driving experience.

On the open road, and particularly the beautiful winding roads of the Blue Mountain’s Megalong Valley, the Hyundai Santa Fe continues to be an SUV that offers ownership satisfaction rather than driving satisfaction.

By that I mean it’s a strong proposition with its five-year warranty piece of mind, smart and practical interior, and strong diesel engine.

Our last fill needed 59.79 litres of diesel, and with 406km since the last top-up that averages out at a scary 14.7L/100km. With diesel prices higher than unleaded petrol, that fill cost $95. It should be noted, though, that those kilometres were comprised mostly of ultra-short trips that can be detrimental to economy.

The Hyundai Santa Fe has spent probably 95 per cent of its time in the suburbs and city, so it’s perhaps no surprise its average fuel consumption is much higher than its official combined number of 7.3L/100km.

If we average consumption over the duration, we get a figure of 9.7L/100km based on 213.49 litres used over 2198km.

Whether you’re in the city or on the open road, the Santa Fe’s lack of body control and inconsistent and vague steering leaves you craving a Mazda CX-5 or a Ford Kuga or Territory on interesting roads.

For all owners, the fidgety, bouncy ride isn’t necessarily in the ‘unbearably uncomfortable’ basket, but it is annoying.

Not all buyers are chasing a vehicle that is great to drive, of course. My wife is one of those buyers, though even she was convinced by the better driving manners of the CX-5 that we’ve just bought as our own family car. (More on that when I bring you ownership reviews on the Mazda.)

For now, though, here are my wife Gloria’s thoughts on the Santa Fe to bring a different perspective.
The wife’s view

I have to admit I was worried about the size of the Santa Fe at first. My previous car was a Peugeot 307CC – I loved it even if my husband didn’t! – so stepping up to a big SUV was daunting for someone who’s not the tallest woman in the world.

The height of the vehicle also made it easier than the Peugeot when getting tickets out of machines at car parks.

Those big side mirrors, though, did create a blind spot when going up a hill around corners.

The seats are very comfortable – including when I had a ponytail. Seems a small thing and for our new Mazda CX-5 I have had to adjust my seating position as the headrest is very forward.

Electric seat adjustment on the Santa Fe also made it very easy to change to my seating position after my husband had been using the car.

The storage on the doors was good – my big water bottles fit easily.

I like the interior. It’s very simple and has key info at the ready – outside temp, etc.

The overall size was fantastic. The back seat is very spacious, so it’s easy to get the child capsule in and out.

Vents in the back seat are in a nice position so there’s better control for passengers.

There was also a light in the back that was handy for people in back seat.

The boot is humungous. The pram fitted easily, though it did move around a lot where in the CX-5 with a bit smaller boot it actually doesn’t. The Santa Fe needs something to help keep things tied down.

I liked the actual feel of the steering wheel – very soft in the hands.

There’s good power from the diesel engine, too (though Jez tells me it’s the torque I’m appreciating more).

For negatives, the ride is bumpy – though I seemed to notice this more as a passenger than when actually driving it for some reason.

We also kept getting condensation on the inside of the windscreen in the morning that wasn’t experienced in any other press car Jez had been driving.

I couldn’t park it in our garage, either, as the Santa Fe was too tight a squeeze.

The sat-nav system also had its pros and cons. I liked the fact it would give me petrol station options if requested and also could give me a quicker route than what I was originally doing.

However, it also occasionally came up with some weird routes with completely wrong directions that could have got me lost if I didn’t have a good idea of the general area I was heading to.

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite CRDi
Date acquired:
January 2013
Odometer reading: 5344km
Travel since last report: 406km
Consumption since last report: 14.7L/100km