Skip navigation
2585 Visits Today

Hyundai Sante Fe Jayco tow test

  • image

    Keith Didham just completed a 1200km, four-day test from Sydney to Melbourne, hitched to a Jayco poptop ? and we made it using less than two tanks of fuel. Photo Gallery

Keith Didham towes a caravan behind the Hyundai Santa Fe diesel from Sydney to Melbourne

It started with a challenge and ended up with another.  Late last year, Hyundai entered two of its new Santa Fe R wagons in the Global Green Challenge — a tough 3136km economy run from Darwin to Adelaide. It was no picnic, with in-car temperatures exceeding 50 deg C.

Remarkably, one of the Santa Fes achieved an average fuel consumption of just 5.10 litres per 100km, while the Carsguide entry didn't disgrace itself either, finishing with 5.39-litres.   That was achieved by driving smoothly, driving slowly and driving without the use of fuel-robbing air conditioning.

While most motorists wouldn't go to such lengths to reduce their fuel bill it did prove the Santa Fe R was the most fuel efficient wagon in its class.  Hyundai's official fuel consumption for the turbo diesel is 6.7l/100km for the manual and 7.5l/100km for the automatic, which in real-world stop-start driving means the average owner should be getting between 8 and 9l/100km for a mix of city and rural driving. Anything less they are doing well.

At the end of the Global Green event CarsGuide put its own challenge to Hyundai — to do a more realistic test of the Santa Fe's consumption by towing a mid-sized caravan over a typical grey nomad route.

The route

We’ve just completed a 1200km, four-day test from Sydney to Melbourne, hitched to a Jayco poptop — and we made it using less than two tanks of fuel.

The route started at Hyundai Australia's Sydney headquarters in the northern suburb of Macquarie park. It then traversed the city with its congested traffic before heading down the South Western highway to Goulburn. It then dropped down to the coast on the often steep Kings Highway to Batemans Bay.

The second day followed the undulating Princess Highway to Eden, including a side trip to the delightful sideside town of Bermagui.  The third day ended up in Traralgon in Victoria before the run to the finish line at Hyundai's Melbourne office in Clayton.

The driving

The wagon was kept at speeds of between 80 and 90km/h where possible, while the route was planned to take in typical conditions faced by caravanners, including plenty of twisty roads and abundant hills. The unexpected was when Mother Nature played a cruel twist, forcing us to drive into the teeth of a gale-force south-westerly which swept Victoria.

The goal was to return an average fuel consumption of between 9 and 10l/100km — and in New South Wales, in perfect driving conditions, we saw 9.4l/100km. By the half way point the hills had taken their toll and the Santa Fe returned a still remarkable 10.05l/100km.

Then disaster. Crossing into Victoria we were hit by 40km/h gales and driving rain which immediately shot fuel consumption to high 11s, no matter how hard we tried. The simple solution would have been to stop, but had a time deadline so we pushed on.

The fuel bill

It was heartbreaking because the Santa Fe is, from our experience, capable of a sub-10L/100km, given the right conditions.  We battled on and eventually the wind dropped and so did the fuel consumption. We made to Melbourne with the low fuel warning light on and less than 5 litres remaining.

The Sydney to Melbourne drive returned an average consumption of 10.36l/100km or 27 mpg.  The best return an impressive 9.4l/100km (in Sydney traffic), the worst, thanks to the headwinds, 12l/100km.  The Santa Fe covered 1186km without a wimper, staying in fifth or sixth gear for most of the journey, such is the tremendous torque from the diesel.

We used 122.90 litres; with a total cost of $159.84, with diesel prices ranging from a high $1.38 a litre in Eden to a low $1.21 a litre in Melbourne.  The Santa Fe's fuel economy as a tow vehicle was remarkable considering the gale force head winds and the constant four wheel drive wagon had an automatic transmission, air conditioning was used when needed, as was the cruise control.

The vehicle and van

Even more remarkable was that it towed a caravan weighing in at 1.3 tonnes and fitted with a roof-mounted air condition unit which created extra drag without any issues.

We have written about the seven-seat Santa Fe before, noting how quiet and how user friendly it is to drive. Plus it comes with a five-star safety rating, has a big cabin and adult space in all seven seats.  It took less than a day to pick the Santa Fe's best and not so good features.

The best was the strong 145kW common-rail turbodiesel, perfectly matched to the six-speed automatic with sequential manual shifting available if needed. The combination is a cracker.  It develops 436Nm of torque between 1800 and 2500rpm. The auto delivers more torque than the manual (421Nm) so gives it the edge for towing.

We drove the Elite-spec version which comes well equipped for the $43,990 pricetag including dual air conditioning, lockable rear differential, traction and stability control, six airbags, parking sensors, cruise control, push button start, wide-angled interior "nanny" mirror, power adjustment for the front seats, smart entry and iPod and USB connectivity.

The tips

There are three big killers to lowering fuel consumption: excessive speed, poor driving habits or poor engine tune.

To get the best result:

Drive smoothly

Don't accelerate or brake hard

Keep the vehicle moving by anticipating changes to the traffic to avoid delays Reduce your speed on the highway Switch off the engine while waiting for long periods at traffic lights Use the highest gear possible without labouring the engine. Change up a gear in petrol engine vehicles at about 2500rpm, in diesels at about 2000rpm. If vehicle speed drops off select a lower gear sooner rather than later Modern automatics can use less fuel than a manual Reduce the vehicle or trailer's weight by getting rid of unwanted items like roof racks Get your vehicle serviced Avoid peak hour traffic Ensure your tyres are at the manufacturer's maximum recommended level On the highway use the air conditioning rather than drive with the windows down to reduce drag At lower city speeds switch off the air conditioning and open a window.


Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 24 comments

  • My wife & I have just completed a 5540 klm run from Beenleigh down along the Murry to Mildura and back over the last 2 months in our 2011 registered 2.2 deisel towing a 17 foot Jaco Pop Top (atm about 1600kg). I normally run the selectamatic (6speed auto) in 5th gear at around 2 to 2200 rpm 90 - 93 kph (actual gps) our fuel consumption is usually 10.2 - 11.0 but out near Hay on the flat I tried 6th gear for 307klmand finished up at 13.2 litres/ 100k ! So from Hay on I reverted to 5th gear.

    Bob Roache of Been leigh Qld. Posted on 29 April 2013 3:59pm
  • I am considering buying the new AVan single axle shower/toilet van which weighs in at 1500kg. Loaded up with our gear & 2 tanks of water I guess it will weigh up to 1900kg. Has anyone towed a van this heavy with an auto diesel Santa Fe?

    Claude Holmes Posted on 28 November 2012 10:50am
  • Hello,

    I have a caravan that is 1350 tare, therefore loaded it approx weight would be 1650kg. Really like the Santa Fe , would it be suitable and safe for towing?

    Murray of Langwarrin Posted on 19 November 2012 9:19pm
  • how did you get on with the park assist when reversing, did you make any adjustments, i have a boat and i put the car into neautral when going down the boat ramp to stop the racket. cheers, pete.

    Peter Roberts of Gladstone QLD Posted on 23 July 2012 10:00am
  • I drive a 2011 santafe highlander turbo crdi oh wow marvellous.

    eddie of sydney Posted on 17 March 2012 1:11pm
  • I want to know how it handled the 1800kg van plus extras?  My petrol Terrirory does well, but thirsty.

    Grant Jewell of ADELAIDE Posted on 16 June 2011 3:15pm
  • How does the max ball weight on the Santa Fe compare with the new Kia Sorento? I am considering buying a vehicle that will pull my camper trailer(1000Kg plus load)

    John Sparke of Ocean Shores Posted on 17 March 2011 2:42pm
  • Can you please help me?  I have purchased the Santa Fe CRDIA Diesel model, and I am over the moon with this vehicle so far. I am currently looking around for a caravan with a GTM of not more than 2000KG as the limit states this weight. I have had some conflicting information as to the weights I have to consider. (1) I was told that I have to take into account the weight of the caravan along with the caravan’s water tanks if filling, the luggage and the additional passengers. (2) I was also told that I can have 6 passengers, their luggage along with a caravan with a GTM of no greater than 2000KG. Which one is correct?

    Roger Coleman of Kingston Queensland Posted on 06 February 2011 4:25pm
  • Firstly I have a 2007 Santa Fe desiel and LOVE it. We tow a 16ft Avan with no dramas and get great economy. By the way a small problem in the articile it’s the PRINCE’S HIGHWAY not a sissy road at all (Princess indeed) and as far as I know the Santa is 2 wheel drive unless it losses grip then the 4wd cuts in. So far as the load levelers are concerned Hyundai told that because they haven’t tested them on this vehicle they can’t recommend them. All I did was put Kings heavy duty springs on the rear. Two things happened, 1 the rear stopped skittering on rough roads and 2 the van with me (110kgs) on the ball dropped the car 5cms, so dont need to have the leveling things.Just a point Hyundai have a trek and tow pack that increases the ball loading but its expensive so just upgrade the springs and that’ll work and it’s a lot cheaper. We’re just about to change to an 18 ft van at around 1800 kgs so will post after

    Santa Fe lover 2010 of Merimbula NSW Posted on 05 January 2011 3:32am
  • I own a 2007 Sante Fe with the 2.0Ltr Diesel coupled to a 5 speed auto. Recently we towed a 15.5ft pop top packed to approx 1800Kg including water, generator, fuel food etc from the south coast of NSW to WA through Kalgoolie, Perth down to Margaret River across to Albany and back home.  Not being light on the accelerator pedal we still acheived 13.70L/100 .  Except when we hit a severe head wind on the Nullabour knocked our figures up to 20L/100. All in all our friends were suprised how Sante kept up and in some cases pushed the bigger tow vehicles along. With the soft suspension of the Sante Fe Towing aids are a necessity.  I would like to add that the Sante Fe 2.0Ltr engine had enough grunt to pull 1/2 as much weight again with out straining.  We have had a couple of situations where the brakes are insufficient even with the electric brakes loaded to their max on the van. This has been through very steep hair pin decents with the gear box locked into 1st & 2nd.
    All in all I feel you will have to pay a lot more to find another SUV will all the features and creature conforts of a Sante Fe and capable of putting in consistent 800 -1000 klm days with a van attached. LOVE THAT CAR

    Macka of South Coast NSW Posted on 04 January 2011 8:42pm
  • I took delivery of an elite in April this year and have traveled 27 thousand k. I recently traveled the central highway from Perth to Alice Springs I think about 1200k on dirt and the dust seals are not good I am still finding dust. However the vehicle took the bad roads with ease and fuel consumption was excellent. I spoke to a chap in Alice who was towing a 17 foot pop top with Santa Fe 2010 mod and he had air bags fitted recommended by his dealer from SA and loved the cars towing ability. I am considering purchasing a van in the next 6 months and looking for a full van not pop top and a 17 footer anyone out there with something similar and towing with the new model Santa Fe I would love your in put.
    Cheers Merry Christmas.

    David Roper of Perth (JOLIMONT) WA Posted on 20 December 2010 3:44pm
  • As a Santy owner 2010 just towed a van 1200 kgs , handled well with no load levelling device. Curious to story about Hyundai not recommending any such device .Please someone comment.

    Deane Grantham of Sth Aust. Posted on 12 October 2010 3:01am
  • Hyundai does not recommend the use of load leveling devices.  I was told that using one would void my warranty and damage the vehicle where the tow bar (factory fitted) is bolted to the rear of the car. My family loves this car. You need to take care on how you load the van you are towing and it tows very well.

    Santa fe 2010 owner of Vic Posted on 06 August 2010 8:57pm
  • Have had this review in my favourites for a while, and can now provide some info about towing a heavier van behind a Santa Fe R SLX without a WDH fitted.

    I recently bought a 17’ 1710kg ATM single axle van with a towball weight of ~140kg. Nose pitch was about 3” above level, as expected. I had a small window to get the van registered prior to getting the WDH. It felt a little bouncy initially on surface roads, didn’t really feel like it was on the back of the car out on the highway. It had plenty of power to spare to keep at road speed with room to overtake on a ruling grade (in fact a 78 series land cruiser towing a 22 footer was crawling up the same grade at about 70km/h, heres me blasting past on the grade at 100km/h). Regardless of Hyundai’s opinion, I would rather the front wheels take some of the weight (especially as the caravan is built quite low).

    Dean Stalker of Brisbane Posted on 03 June 2010 6:09pm
  • Did you use a load levelling device? Does Hyundai recommend one be used with a caravan?

    Tony Cairns of Gold Coast Posted on 01 June 2010 8:15pm
  • I read the ‘Girl Torque’ review on Saturday as well as the towing review and have a few thoughts from a lady who actually has a 2010 Santa Fe.  The lady commented on why anyone would want that much space and towing capacity, clearly that told me she does not have kids and does not go on road trips.  As a mother of a competitive teenage swimmer I find myself on the road more often than not on country trips.  Before this car, I had the Hyundai Terracan, and I cannot tell you how grateful I was and am for the space in the large car!  Packing for two adults and two kids for a road trip would not be possible in a Toyata Yaris!  The towing is a marvel, and we would never consider owning a good sized family car without having a tow ball and ability to tow something heavy!  I chose this car, after much research and even though I’ve only had it for 2 weeks, I cannot sing it’s praises any louder.  The stability control, traction control and extensive air bags give my husband the peace of mind when the kids and I are on a swim road trip.  Overall, I am thrilled with my Santa Fe and once I have finished ‘personalising it’ I wont be parting with it in a hurry at all!!

    Tanya Teunissen of Adelaide Posted on 10 May 2010 11:09am
  • I am told that Hyundai advise that you do not use sway bars of any kind when towing with Sante Fe. Why?

    john collin of melbourne Posted on 03 May 2010 1:39pm
  • Paul,
    sorry I had a typo. The ball weight of the van unladen is 113kg. Keith

    Keith Didham of Hobart Posted on 28 April 2010 1:12pm
  • Thanks for your comments Martin, Bronte and Robert.
    The Jayco poptop van was reasonably lightweight, weighing in all up at about 1300kg loaded which matched the 2 tonne capacity of the Santa Fe. Any van heavier than 1500kg is going to be taxing I suspect for the wagon. No anti sway bars were fitted and we had no problem with excessive body roll. The Santa Fe’s suspension is a little soft for towing on poor road surfaces but it was not a major problem apart from some pitching. The Santa Fe’s pros are its value for money, strong diesel engine and it is user friendly, especially in city traffic. The cons: I’m not totally convinced the styling works and my wife and I didn’t like the front seats, the base of the backrest is too firm but it may be different for other people.
    Keith Didham

    Keith Didham of Hobart Posted on 28 April 2010 1:08pm
  • Keith, I have had a test drive of the new Santa Fe. The engine performance is great but a test drive with my 1500Kg fully loaded van was out of the question. How did the Santa Fe suspension handle undulating road surfaces and cornering with the van? Were anti-sway bars fitted to the hitch? Was there any excessive body roll? Thank you for your report.

    Martin of North Sydney Posted on 27 April 2010 1:13am
  • Keith what weight was the van and did you use a WDH?

    bronte smallacombe of Victor Harbor SA Posted on 25 April 2010 6:46pm
  • Keith, I’m thinking about buying the Elite, and you say in your review “It took less than a day to pick the Santa Fe’s best and not so good features.” I would appreciate your views on the pros and cons of this vehicle. Your assistance would be appreciated.

    Robert of Surfers Paradise Qld Posted on 23 April 2010 11:43am
  • Paul, the ball weight was 130kg

    Keith Didham of Hobart Posted on 21 April 2010 1:47pm
  • What was the tow ball weight of the caravan?

    Paul Cabbie of Melb Posted on 19 April 2010 11:18am
Read all 24 comments

Add your comment on this story

Indicates required

We welcome your comments on this story. Comments are submitted for possible publication on the condition that they may be edited. Please provide your full name. We also require a working email address - not for publication, but for verification. The location field is optional.