Back in 2012, Hyundai built the third-generation Santa Fe SUV, a fine family car that could carry seven people. But what about its prowess as a tow car? Let’s find out.

What’s a used Hyundai Santa Fe Mk3 like inside?

Having a good amount of space is something anyone looking for the best used tow car will be seeking. In the case of the Santa Fe Mk3, there’s loads of space for the two up front, and the three in the middle will be happy enough because leg- and headroom aren’t bad.

The rearmost seats are fine for kids, and adults can fit for short trips. The boot is predictably small when all seven seats are in use, but when they are folded into the floor, there’s a large, flat load area.

The loading lip is reasonably low, too, which helps to make all that loading and unloading a bit easier. There are four trim levels available – Style, SE, Premium and Premium SE, all of which are well appointed.

Cabin of the Santa Fe
Everything feels as though it has been built to last and make life easier

SE cars come with air conditioning and reverse-parking sensors. Premium adds electric windows all round, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors at both ends, and heated seats in the front. Top-spec cars also come with a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, blind spot warning, a parking camera and a panoramic sunroof.

Everything you touch, twist, press or pull feels as though it has been built to last, as well as make your life easier. Settling on a good driving position is simple, and the large glass area affords a great view.

How does a used Hyundai Santa Fe Mk3 drive?

There was only ever one engine – a 194bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel that generates a sturdy 325lb ft of torque. Drive is predominantly to the front wheels, through a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, with the rears called into the foray only when the fronts start to spin. This, plus the electronic handbrake, makes pulling away on a slippery slope with a heavy caravan easy.

Once rolling, the Santa Fe is unfazed by crosswinds and buffeting from large lorries, something that the best caravan tow cars should provide. It deals well with emergency manoeuvres, too.

Rear of Hyundai Santa Fe
When you’re unhitched, the Hyundai is comfortable and light to drive

The good news continues when you’re unhitched, as the Hyundai is comfortable and light to drive, albeit vague. The soft suspension of the tow car does allow the body to move around a bit, as well. Wind and road noise are noticeable, but not enough to be annoying, and the engine can be a bit gruff when revved, but there’s so much torque, you don’t need to rev it.

What will a used Hyundai Santa Fe Mk3 tow?

  • Kerbweight: 2040kg
  • Towing limit: 2000kg
  • Noseweight limit: 100kg
  • 85% match: 1734kg

Running costs

  • Insurance group: 20
  • Annual VED: £240*
  • Average economy: 47.1mpg
  • Interim/full service: £103/£139

*If registered before 1 April 2017. £180 for cars registered after that date.

Servicing prices supplied by Servicing Stop, 0844 324 5262

Trouble spots

Just over 12,000 examples were recalled because water could get inside the bonnet release cable, causing corrosion, which could allow the bonnet to open of its own accord.
Then 80,559 cars were recalled because of a faulty ABS control unit. A small number of vehicles were recalled because of a steering wheel rim that could become detached.

For more detailed information, it’s worth checking the full list of recalls, which can be found at

What to pay

  • High: price: £24,700; model: 2018 2.2 CRDi Premium SE; miles: 44,000
  • Sweet spot: price: £16,700; model: 2016 2.2 CRDi Premium; miles: 38,000
  • Low: price: £5500; model: 2013 2.2 CRDi Style; miles: 167,000


The Hyundai Santa Fe is a good choice if you want a vehicle that will fit into your life without hassle. It’s the sort of vehicle you’re happy to use, then forget about until next time. It’s large, heavy, comfortable and capable – but if you’re looking for a drive that makes you feel a bit special, you might want to search elsewhere.

Alternatives to a Hyundai Santa Fe

Kia Sorento
The Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento (2015-20)

The Kia Sorento is similar to the Hyundai Santa Fe underneath, because it has the same running gear, but the Kia offers an extra air of classiness. It makes you feel more special about being in it, so you’ll really enjoy the everyday driving experience. It also came with Kia’s seven-year warranty as standard, so later models will still have much of that outstanding.

Take a look at our review of the 2021 Kia Sorento.

Seat Alhambra
The Seat Alhambra

Seat Alhambra (2011-2020)

Before seven-seat SUVs, seven-seat MPVs were all the rage, and the Seat Alhambra was the best. It’s utterly enormous. The interior is well made, and the engine range is punchy and frugal. There’s no four-wheel-drive system, but if you don’t need one, the Alhambra makes a fine, flexible tow car option.

Škoda Kodiaq
The Škoda Kodiaq

Škoda Kodiaq (2016-present)

The Kodiaq was the result of Škoda’s determination to get in on the seven-seat SUV market. For a first stab, it’s a good one, roomy and flexible. Better still, the interior looks classy, with shiny trims and switchgear that just feels right. And Škoda’s typical touches, such as an ice scraper on the inside of the fuel flap, and a torch in the boot, also make life easier.

See what we made of a used Škoda Kodiaq as a tow car.

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