When's it going?

There is a funky new one on sale right now, which looks really great. However, if you don't mind the slightly gawky previous generation Santa Fe, you do get an awful lot of 4 x 4 for your money.

What's good about it?

Overall the Santa Fe looks the part, with lots of standard equipment, and it has a very big cabin. It is certainly safe and the engines are fairly economical. The rugged and imposing looks (well, to some anyway) get the Santa Fe off to a good start, even if the badge does not have any real off-road respect.

As a family vehicle it isn't too bad at all. The interior is spacious and for the driver the position and dashboard layout are both very good. Everyone will be safe too. It scored a creditable four stars in European crash tests.

Diesel and smaller petrol engines are economical. Best of all probably, being a Hyundai it comes with a five-year warranty. The specifications are generous so at the very least you will find four electric windows, air conditioning, front airbags, alloy wheels, metallic paint and electric mirrors. Then with the 2.7 petrol, leather and an automatic gearbox come free.

What's bad about it?

For some the Santa Fe is only average to drive and the interior could, indeed, be better finished. However, the poor finish inside is made up for by Hyundai's commitment to providing a decent specification. Although many moan about the rough edges, actually the buttons are big and easy to use and, best of all, well placed.

On the road, though, the steering is too light, there is not as much grip as you would expect and it rolls a lot when cornering. Some road testers have commented that it does not feel terribly stable and that it is far too soft, but then they drive like lunatics anyway. Off-road the Santa Fe is only average, which may not bother too many buyers. So if you only need to tow, or go across nothing worse than a muddy field, then no problem.

How much?

Dealers are currently clearing their stocks of the old model. Most have been registered, but only have delivery miles. So a CRTD CDX from Normandy Garage (01483 811 111) is only £15,495 compared with the asking price of £18,195. However, the car broker Auto Finders (01629 814985) had an identical pre-registered model at £14,695.

Any snags?

Not really. The Santa Fe has only had three recalls - about fuel leaks - in the past few years. The five-year warranty covers just about any mechanical problem that might occur, so you will just be looking out for signs of cabin damage from family and dogs.


Launched: 2001

Engine size: 2.0TD, 2.0CRTD, 2.4, 2.7V6

Performance: 2.0TD top speed 103 mph, 0-60mph in 14.9 seconds

Economy: 37.2 mpg

Safety: NCAP, four stars

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