Hyundai Santa Fe Test Report

Published on 18th February 2019 at 11:19

The authentic traveller on Route 66 will always take the New Mexico loop through Santa Fe, the red rock lure of this stunning state defying your eyes at every horizon. Whereas my test drive on Hyundai’s biggest SUV did not take me on this mystical road, it did provide me with positive memories on the journey this Korean road offering has made since it first rolled onto tarmac in 2001.

Best forget any notion of inferiority about this substantial four-wheel drive SUV, as this latest generation Santa Fe sits very comfortably alongside the established badges and offers a huge amount of space and grace for substantially less yo-yo’s. 

My test car was the 2019 Santa Fe in Premium Plus Auto trim, and should anyone have any doubts on where this brand now exists, this current Santa Fe is knocking loudly on the door of existing luxury SUV’s. Fit, finish, materials used, safety and convenience systems and everyday liveability make the Santa Fe a very real contender for your driveway space.

If you are someone whose driving involves hills, horses and chasing the horizon, and have to deal with the humour of Irish weather, the 2.0 Santa Fe will take you and yours in sublime comfort to your destinations.

There is nothing Wild about this Eastern road offering from Hyundai. It stands easily amid its competitors and is a must on your test drive list.    


Make & Model: Hyundai Santa FeFormat: 5/7-seat Sports Utility Vehicle
Trim Levels: Comfort Plus, Executive Plus, Premium PlusTest Car Trim Level: Executive Plus
Engine: 2.2CRDi - Four-cylinder turbocharged dieselPower: 200bhp
Torque: 436NmTransmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Drive: Four-wheel driveCO2: 163g/km
Tax Band: DAnnual Road Tax: €570
Boot Space: 547 litres – 1,625 litres with rear seats foldedLength: 4,770mm
Width: 1,890mm Height: 1,680mm
Front/ Rear Overhang: 940mm/1,065mmGround Clearance: 185mm

Range starting Price - €42,245

Test model price €57,745

Some of the Competition

Skoda Kodiak, Peugeot 5008, KIA Sorrento, VW Tiguan Allspace, Nissan X-Trail

First Impressions

Imposing. From first glance this 2019 Santa Fe is no shrinking violet. It stands confident and substantial, its front end dominated by what they refer to as a Cascading Grille. I like the front design, the LED, (Light Emitting Diode), DRL’s, (Day Running Lights), and the slim LED headlights. The roof rails take your eyes to the rear, where the tail lights, bumper and exhaust treatment look very well indeed. This is a proud vehicle.

Inside Story

Impressive from the opening of the driver’s door, this Premium Plus Santa Fe gets you at ‘Hello.’ Carrying an ownership requirement of some 57k, it is swimming with some serious sharks from the established premium brands with such an outlay demand.

Cast aside any badge favouritism or bigotry, as this is not a camouflage offering and during my weeklong association, proved to be confident and competent throughout. Substantial and supportive leather seats place you in front of a clear and informative driver’s console, where a truly excellent HUD, (Head Up Display), gives all relevant information just below your driving eye line – brilliant, and a major safety enhancement.

The centre console gives access to all manner of comfort, entertainment and connectivity, with the now normal Apple CarPlay and Android Auto available immediately on plugging in. A charge pad is also conveniently located, asking you no more than to place your phone upon it and let it do its voodoo.

Materials used, overall layout, fit ‘n finish and room are beyond any criticism of worth. Having adjusted my driver’s seat to suit my substantial 6’-plus frame, those to my immediate rear still had oodles of comfortable space. Being a 7-seater, the two rear seats fold neatly into the floor and are best suited to small children. During my time and mileage with the Santa Fe, I always looked forward to sitting into its cabin and heading out.    

Road Work

Make no mistake, this is a substantial 180bhp, 4-wheel drive, with enough talent to take into the giggle-weeds with confidence. My test car came with Hyundai’s ‘HTRAC’, their selective 4x4 system with a choice of driving modes, ECO, Comfort, Sport and Smart, that allowed me manually select how the car’s torque is distributed between the front and rear wheels. Eco sends drive predominantly to the front wheels, while Comfort splits the drive front to rear 65/35. Sport is a 50/50 split and via a 4WD Lock button on the lower centre console you can hold that 50/50 locked drive up to a speed of 30kph.

For the most part I left the Santa Fe in ECO or Comfort mode, even through a howling, open-road, rain-storm, where the Santa Fe’s high driving position and rectangular shape might be expected to be adversely affected, but it was rock solid and very reassuring.

SUV’s like the Santa Fe can intimidate drivers moving up from the lowlands of passenger cars, but everything about the Santa Fe, from the driving position, the mirrors and their excellent blind spot warning, the Head Up Display and the reversing sensors and camera, all combine to make the transition one of easy familiarity.

Such is the amount of assistance and safety systems on my test car, new owners should take time to acclimatise to the talents of their new road companion, returning to their Hyundai dealer for clarity when needed. This new Santa Fe is NASA compared to a vehicle of five years ago and to get the best out of it requires a worthwhile investment of your time. You will not be disappointed.

Hyundai Safety Systems

Blind-Spot Collision Warning

Using radar, the Blind Spot Collision Warning monitors the rear corners and, if another vehicle is detected, a visual alert appears on the exterior mirrors and also on the Head Up Display. Should you move while this is active, you get an audible warning against moving. This is very beneficial, particularly on multi-lane carriageways, where it is brilliant on warning for vehicles merging in from outside your mirror range.

Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with pedestrian detection

Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with pedestrian detection alerts drivers to emergency situations, braking autonomously if required. Using front radar and camera sensors, FCA operates in three stages. Initially warning the driver visually and acoustically, it controls the brake according to the collision danger stage and applies maximum braking force to avoid a collision or minimize damage when a collision is unavoidable. The system is activated when a vehicle or pedestrian is sensed in front of the car, operating at speeds of 10km/h or above.

Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist

Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist warns the driver and applies the brakes automatically to avoid collisions when vehicles approach from the side or when reversing out of narrow areas with low visibility. Using the rear corner radars, the system scans a 180-degree area behind the vehicle. Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist operates once the reverse gear is engaged.

Lane Keeping Assist

Lane Keeping Assist alerts the driver in unsafe movements at over 60 km/h by sensing the car’s position. It sounds an alarm before the car moves over white, grey and blue lines as well as raised road markers called Bott’s dots, (common in USA and other countries), on the road, and warns the driver acoustically and visually before inducing corrective steering to guide the driver back to a safe position.

Rear Occupant Alert protects children

Rear Occupant Alert is the latest addition to Hyundai’s SmartSenseTM package of active safety features. Rear Occupant Alert monitors the rear seats and alerts the driver when leaving the car.

An ultrasonic sensor monitors the rear seats to detect the movements of children or pets. The system first reminds drivers to check the rear seats with a message on the central instrument cluster display once the engine is switched off. If the system detects movement in the rear seats after the driver has locked the vehicle it will sound the horn and flash the lights. The system also activates when children accidentally lock themselves in the car.

Safety Exit Assist

The Safety Exit Assist prevents accidents when doors are opened in the case of vehicles approaching from behind. Using the radar, the system detects approaching vehicles and warns the driver when a door is opened (doors without child lock). When the driver attempts to unlock child lock doors and the system detects approaching traffic, the vehicle maintains the child lock and issues an acoustic warning.

Interior Specification

  • 19" Alloy Wheels
  • Chrome Exterior Door Handles
  • Mud Guards
  • Radiator Grille (Black/Chrome Coating)
  • Rear Spoiler with High Mounted Stop Light
  • Roof Rails

Ventilation & Visibility

  • Fog Lamps - Front & Rear LED
  • Full Automatic Air Conditioning
  • LED Daytime Running Lights
  • LED Headlamps
  • LED Rear Combination Lamp
  • Rear Air Conditioning
  • Panoramic Sunroof
  • Puddle Lamp


  • Automatic Headlamp Sensor with High Beam Assist
  • Drive Mode Select
  • Front & Rear Power Windows with Auto Down & Safety Function
  • Rear Parking Sensors
  • Front and Rear Parking Sensors
  • Gearbox Paddle Shift (Automatic Transmission only)
  • Parking System - Rear Camera and Guidance System
  • Parking System - Surround View Monitor
  • Rain Sensitive Wipers
  • Rear View Mirror: Electro Chromatic Anti Dazzle with Integrated Compass
  • Temporary Steel Spare Wheel and Tyre

Technology & Entertainment

  • Phone Connection - Android Auto
  • Phone Connection - Apple CarPlay
  • AUX & USB Connections
  • Bluetooth Hands Free
  • Head Up Display
  • Navigation System
  • Radio with RDS : Integrated 8" Colour Screen
  • Wireless Phone Charger

Safety & Security

  • Advanced Smart Cruise Control System (Automatic Transmission Only)
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (Car/Pedestrian/Bicycle)
  • Blind-Spot Collision Warning System
  • Cruise Control Manual Transmission Only)
  • Driver Fatigue Detection
  • Front, Side and Curtain Airbags
  • Lane Keep Assist (LKAS)
  • Smart Key & Burglar Alarm

Hyundai Santa Fe Pricing

TrimEngineFuelCO2  g/kmTax BandRoad Tax 
New Santa Fe 2WD Comfort Plus2.2Diesel155C€390€42,245
New Santa Fe 2WD Executive Plus2.2Diesel148C€390€45,245
New Santa Fe 4WD Executive Plus2.2Diesel157D€570€47,245
New Santa Fe 4WD Exec Plus Auto2.2Diesel163D€570€51,245
Santa Fe 4WD Premium Plus Auto2.2Diesel164D€570€57,745


Tony Toner is a member of the Association of Professional Motoring Press and a voting juror on Irish Car & Irish Van of the Year.