Car Reviews

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

Carzone tests Hyundai's popular seven seat SUV


Pros: Seven seat practicality, well-equipped, economical

Cons: Higher entry price than rivals, no hybrid engines yet

Seven seat SUVs are certainly on trend these days, and it’s easy to see why, with added practicality and space for increasingly-busy family life styles. The Hyundai Santa Fe has consistently ranked as one of Ireland’s best-selling seven seat SUVs in recent years, and it has recently been updated for 2019. The new Santa Fe boasts sharper styling, various interior updates and a collection of new technology to tempt buyers away from seven seat alternatives such as the Skoda Kodiaq, Peugeot 5008, Kia Sorento and SEAT Tarraco. We spent a week with the new Santa Fe on Irish roads recently, with seven passengers in tow, to see how It has improved and how it scores against its rivals. 

New Hyundai Santa Fe

What is it like?

The new Santa Fe has more road presence than the outgoing model thanks to a new cascading front, revised slimline daytime running lights and various other tweaks to the side lines and rear lights. The Santa Fe looks smarter than before as a result, which it needs competing against the trendy Peugeot 5008 and SEAT Tarraco. In standard ‘Comfort Plus’ guise it’s equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails and a rear spoiler, though our test car is the range-topping ‘Premium Plus’ edition which adds 19-inch alloy wheels, chrome exterior detailing, a dark grille and front and rear LED lights.  

Hyundai Ireland

Inside, the Santa Fe is equipped with seven seats as standard, so it is well-suited to modern family needs. Both the front and rear seats are heated which is useful on frosty Irish winter mornings, while entry to third row of seats is simple as the seats slide forward with the simple touch of a button. The Santa Fe is very spacious throughout with enough room to accommodate seven passengers in comfort and plenty of areas to stow away items, although the third row of seats is best-suited to children due to somewhat restricted leg room. Higher specification models are also equipped with rear air conditioning which is helpful on longer journeys.  

Santa Fe Interior

Premium Plus models feature am eight-inch colour touch screen system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for easily syncing to a smartphone, and the system is straight forward to use, though not as vibrant as some of its rivals. The driving position in very comfortable and offers commanding view of the road and electric adjustment. Fit and finish throughout the cabin is strong and it should cope well with the strains of family life. In terms of practicality, the Santa Fe’s boot is 40 litres larger than the old model with 625 litres of room when the rearmost seats are folded. 

Seven Seater

The new Santa Fe is available with a sole 2.2-litre diesel engine and a choice of front-wheel-drive or all-wheel drive, and a manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. We drove the automatic Santa Fe and It offers a suitable mix of performance and economy, with smooth power delivery and competent cruising abilities. The Santa Fe accelerates from 0-100km/h in around 10 seconds and we covered around 800 kilometres of driving during out test, and found it was well-suited to lugging large loads and not lacking in power with seven passengers.  

Santa Fe Lights

In terms of running costs, the Santa Fe scores well with annual motor tax listed at €570, while achieved circa 6.5l/100km in fuel economy, predominantly in eco driving mode. Hyundai is planning to add hybrid and plug-in hybrid powerplants to the range eventually, though diesel is the only option for the foreseeable.

Hyundai Alloy Wheels

Out on the road, the Santa Fe isn’t sporty or particularly engaging to drive, but it is smooth and refined, with reassuring levels of grip. The Santa Fe majors in comfort and rides well on back roads, even with the large 19-inch alloy wheels fitted to our test car. The cabin is quiet and well insulated from road and wind noise at higher speeds, meaning it’s well-suited to long motorway-based journeys. We drove our test car from Mayo to Dublin and back again in much comfort. 

White Hyundai SUV

In terms of pricing, the Santa Fe starts at €42,745 with three choices of specification, Comfort Plus, Executive Plus and Premium Plus. The Santa Fe is considerably more expensive than the SEAT Tarraco and Skoda Kodiaq, however it is well-equipped and includes seven seats as standard. In entry Comfort Plus specification, the Santa Fe includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a heated leather steering wheel, seven seats, air conditioning, front and rear heated seats, a five-inch infotainment screen and a suite of safety aids such as autonomous emergency braking, driver fatigue detection and lane keep assist. 

Hyundai LED Lights

Executive Plus (from €45,745) adds 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome detailing, an upgraded grille, electric parking brake, rear door curtains, privacy glass, leather upholstery, an electric driver’s seat, rear LED lights, rear air conditioning, Android Auto and Apple Car Play, a seven-inch touch screen and a wireless phone charger. The range-topping Premium Plus (from €58,245) leaves little to be desired with 19-inch wheels, a seven-inch driver’s display, front and rear LED fog lamps and headlights, a panoramic sunroof, a heads-up display, satellite navigation and a large 8-inch touch screen infotainment system. 

Leather upholestery

Carzone verdict: 4/5

The Hyundai Santa Fe remains a standout choice in the seven seat SUV class, with economical diesel engines, a highly practical and spacious cabin configuration and strong levels of equipment as standard. New styling changes also one of the prettiest models on the market. The Santa Fe is equipped with seven seats as standard, and it offers one of the best seven seat configurations on the market with easy one-touch access to the rearmost row. The Santa Fe is priced higher than many of its rivals however, such as the Skoda Kodiaq however, and it doesn’t have as varied a range of engine choices. That said, the new Santa Fe is a well-versed all-rounder and it offers a premium look and feel that few other cars in the class can match.

Test Car Details:

Model driven: Hyundai Santa Fe premium Plus

Prices from: €42,745

Price as tested: €58,245

Annual Road Tax: €570

Engine: 2,199cc four-cylinder diesel

Power: 200bhp

0-100km/h: 10.1 seconds

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Body style: SUV

Boot Space: 625 litres


Kia Sorento

Nissan X-Trail

Peugeot 5008

SEAT Tarraco

Skoda Kodiaq

Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace