David Motton

See other tow car reviews written by David Motton

Practical Caravan reviews the Hyundai Santa Fe, a popular large 4x4 and a good tow car improved by changes for the 2010 model year

Overview

The Hyundai Santa Fe was already a a decent tug, but revisions for the 2010 model year have made the big SUV significantly better.

There have been take-them-or-leave-them changes to the styling, but the most significant difference is under the bonnet. The new 2.2 CRDi engine puts out a barrel-chested 194bhp and 311lb ft of torque. That makes the facelifted Santa Fe significantly quicker than the old version.

Towing

We matched the Hyundai to a Swift Expression 570 with a Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass of 1500kg. The Hyundai pulled the outfit from 30-60mph in 10.8 seconds. Out on the road the Hyundai never felt short of muscle, coping easily with steep inclines and overtaking confidently.

More grip from the front tyres would have improved the Santa Fe’s performance in the lane-change test, but the car stayed firmly in charge of the caravan, even on high-speed runs. Our hill-start test, which takes place on a 1-in-10 slope, proved straightforward. The handbrake held the outfit still with no need to pull it on with undue force, and the Hyundai towed cleanly up the hill.

However, it’s a shame the brake pedal feels rather wooden and the 30-0mph stopping distance of 11.6 metres is no better than average.Unhook the caravan and numb steering takes the shine off enjoying the drive. The Santa Fe tends to thump into bigger bumps but otherwise it’s comfortable enough.

Space

The seven-seat cabin is more spacious than some 4x4s’, which squeeze in a third row of seats as an afterthought. The Santa Fe has enough head and legroom for adults to fit in seats six and seven.

With all seven seats occupied there’s little luggage space, although with the back seats folded away there’s enough room for holiday luggage.

Running costs

What's just as impressive as the way the Santa Fe tows or its interior space is how inexpensive it is to buy. Most seven-seat 4x4s cost much more. Despite its powerful engine and hefty kerbweight, fuel bills should be reasonable.

Technical specs

Engine size2199 cc
Kerbweight1961 kg
85% KW1667 kg
Towball limit100 kg
Maximum towing limit2500 kg
Power194.0 bhp
Torque311.0 lb ft
Official MPG41.5 mpg
CO2176 g/km
30-60mph10.8 seconds
30-0mph11.6 m

Verdict

The Hyundai Santa Fe is much improved for the 2010 model year, with star billing going to the new engine. It's great value, very practical and one of our favourite 4x4s.

Conclusion

Pros

  • The 2.2-litre diesel engine has more than enough muscle for towing
  • Keen pricing makes the Santa Fe affordable
  • The interior is spacious and the layout is flexible

Cons

  • Some rivals are more entertaining in everyday driving
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