From December 2007 issue

List price when tested: £25,977
Kerbweight: 1863kg
85% match: 1584kg
Max towing weight: 2200kg
Towball limit: 88kg

PRACTICALITY IS the Hyundai Santa Fe’s strong suit. There’s room inside for seven (you can also buy a five-seat version if you won’t use the extra seats), and the third row is more spacious than in rivals like the Peugeot 4007. The rear two rows fold away when not needed to leave a huge luggage area for the Sunday morning trip to the tip.

Once the domestic chores are done, the Hyundai makes a solid towcar. The 2.2 CRTD engine musters 253lb.ft of torque, which pulled the car and an Abbey Expression 560 from 30-60mph in 15.4 seconds.

Acceleration is dogged rather than quick, but the Santa Fe should cope well enough with any suitable match.

Low-fuss hill starts

In the hill start test, the Hyundai’s handbrake needed a firm pull before it would hold the outfit but the car’s four-wheel-drive transmission helped tow up the 1-in-10 slope without fuss, even in wet weather. The 30-0mph braking distance of 12 metres is also respectable given the water on the track.

The emergency lane-change test didn’t really play to the Santa Fe’s strengths, and at high speeds we could feel the caravan pushing and shoving at the back of the van. Apart from this extreme manoeuvre on the test track, however, we were happy with the big Hyundai’s stability.

In fact, we’d readily tackle a long journey in the Santa Fe, with or without a caravan in tow. Aside from some road noise the cabin is mostly quiet, and the driving position is comfortable for hours behind the wheel.

Equipment levels are good, and there’s the reassurance of Hyundai’s five-year warranty.

We say
Towing: 3/5
Solo: 3/5
Practicality: 4/5
Buying & owning: 4/5

Verdict: 3/5. A very practical, good value towcar, although not as powerful as some.

Braking 30-0mph: 12m 

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