The Santa Fe has been upgraded with a seven-seater layout, a new platform, electrification, and a refreshed design inside and out.
It is judged that it is seriously wrong to leave a gap of two and a half years between the new flagship SUV and the model after the facelift. Four years is understandable. The 4th generation Santa Fe started selling only in the second half of 2018, and the current design was changed as well as almost the entire platform, and the engine lineup was also expanded to electrification.
However, in retrospect, the industry is changing that fast. And Hyundai is quickly reading this trend. The 2.2L diesel engine with high emissions was abandoned and replaced with a downsized hybrid gasoline engine. In addition, by applying the new N3 platform to the 7-seater Santa Fe body, it would have secured faster productivity.
It’s a car worth thinking about. It is a full-size family crossover with a price of about £40,000 (about 62.8 million won), and fierce competition is expected with Skoda Kodiak, Peugeot 5008, Land Rover Discovery Sports, Toyota Rav4, and Honda CR-V.
Other than the engine and platform, what is the difference? The 2765mm wheelbase remains unchanged. The second-row legroom has been increased by 34mm, and the interior space has also been increased. In addition, the second-row seats fold almost flat with the push of a button and can be pushed forward to secure space for third-row passengers. This means that the Santa Fe has a well-thought-out seat configuration for a versatile large crossover.
The design structure of the cockpit is not much different from the previous one. The transmission tunnel is relatively neatly laid out, with an elegant slope reminiscent of the slopes, from the standard 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster to the nearby new 10.3-inch touchscreen. It looks like they put a lot of effort into the build and finish. Although hard plastic still remains, most of the trim has been applied with a soft-touch material. If you look at the luxurious seats and the above-average visuals, it is quite comfortable and decent interior space in its class.
The dynamic elements of the New Santa Fe are not very convincing. At the front is Hyundai’s new SmartStream 1.6L T-GDi turbo petrol engine, mated to an electric motor producing 58bhp. The PHEV version comes with 90 horsepower. In addition, a six-speed automatic transmission developed by Hyundai is paired to form the powertrain. The entry-level Santa Fe is all-wheel drive, but our test drive is a four-wheel-drive model with a 50:50 torque distribution between the axles. This Santa Fe also added a new terrain mode. This setting is for areas that are difficult to access, such as snow and mud, or where off-road capabilities can be shown to the limit.
Like many hybrid cars, the new Santa Fe is powered by electric power when accelerating. It feels a bit quicker to respond. And generally easy to drive. The controller settings are well adjusted, and the posture control comes with a sense of stability.
What is frustrating is after EV mode is turned off. It lacks a refined feel when the engine is running. The power transmission is smooth enough, but the engine vibrates heavily at high revs. It feels a bit like the old Fiat Twin Air engine, but there’s no charm to it. You can’t feel the power of 227 horsepower and 35.6 kg m of torque, which you can see in the specifications. The high-end turbo diesel in the same class provides more satisfactory output, while Hyundai’s hybrid setting achieved fuel efficiency of 17.1 km/L. Despite driving fairly smoothly at cruising speed on the highway, the fuel economy was not particularly good.
Despite the new platform, the driving quality is also below average. There is nothing particularly inconvenient, but even with the heavy suspension, the heavy low gear of the Santa Fe is absolutely not obedient. Always trying to get to something, even when driving at a cruising speed.
Ultimately, given the versatility and spaciousness of the interior, bold styling and general ease-of-use, you would have been tempted to buy the older Santa Fe. The new Santa Fe has gained a bit in every way—efficiency, dynamics, generous convenience, and safety features—but when it comes to value for money, you end up in deeper trouble.
Written by Richard Lane
Hyundai Santa Fe
1.6 T-GDi HEV 4WD
Practical and luxurious interior space feeling,
However, the powertrain and chassis are not the best in its class.
price £41,935 (approximately 65.5 million won)
engine 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol + electric motor
maximum output 227hp/5500rpm
maximum torque 35.6kg·m/1500-4500rpm
gearbox 6 speed automatic
weight 1842 kg
top speed 186km
0 → 100km/h acceleration 9.1 seconds
Fuel efficiency 17.1km/L
CO2 159 g/km, 35%
rival Peugeot 5008, Skoda Kodiak