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Hyundai Santa Fe 2021 review: 2.2D

The new Santa Fe looks more beefy than the last model, it's all juiced up.

The Hyundai Santa Fe is one of those cars that really ticks the boxes for a family, while being good value. It’s all about the size - it’s on the smaller end of a large SUV, plus it has two spare seats in the back, making it ultra practical.

I test drove the base model, simply called the Santa Fe, which costs $48,200 before on road costs. It’s had a significant update for 2021, and competes with cars like the Mazda CX-8 and the Nissan X-Trail which also offer seven seats while not being large SUVs

Here’s how it did over seven days for this week’s family review.

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How does it look?

The exterior is quite different to the previous model, with a large rectangular grille at the front, and it generally looks a bit more beefed up and bulky, like it’s been on the juice. It gives the impression that it’s a very solid car to drive. 

Being the base model, the inside is fairly standard but it still looks good. The fabric seats are comfortable, even on bare skin, and you still get a leather appointed steering wheel and gear shifter.

The exterior is quite different to the previous model. The exterior is quite different to the previous model.

So, on the things that you’re touching with hands, it feels good, which makes all the difference. 

The centre console is well designed with but very matte black (and not the premium kind) and not much else is going on. However, it’s well laid out so things are functional and within hands' reach. 

It gives the impression that it’s a very solid car to drive.  It gives the impression that it’s a very solid car to drive. 

What’s the tech like?

The multimedia screen has been upsized to 8.0 inches, more in line with the size of the car but not as big as some competitors which have screens up to 10 inches.

It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which are designed to instantly sync with your phone’s main apps.

The multimedia screen has been upsized to 8.0 inches, more in line with the size of the car. The multimedia screen has been upsized to 8.0 inches, more in line with the size of the car.

I did find it a little tricky to connect, though, so make sure this is working for you before you leave the dealer. Once sorted, you can navigate and listen to music via the multimedia screen and it’s so easy to use. 

This new model introduces a wireless phone charger and the sound system is decent, so you’ll be able to turn it up for your favourite song. 

How easy is it to use every day?

Being the base model, the front seats are manually adjustable and you’ll actually have to shut the boot with your - gasp - hands. No button.

It’s push start, though, and the electric park brake is conveniently located so it doesn’t feel like a chore.

For storage there are two cupholders, a small spot for keys and a phone and then a large centre storage bin. You’ll also get two USB ports in the front and two in the back row, and if you’ve ever done a road trip with children you’ll know just how invaluable they are! 

For storage there are two cupholders, a small spot for keys and a phone and then a large centre storage bin. For storage there are two cupholders, a small spot for keys and a phone and then a large centre storage bin.

Rear passengers get two cupholders in the centre armrest and their own directional air vents, and third row passengers get two cupholders, small storage and their own air vent controls so it doesn’t get stuffy in the back. 

It’s easier to climb into the third row than the last model and than most other seven seaters. You can slide the second row forward so there is actual floor to step on before you make it into the back, which isn’t always the case and is an improvement on the outgoing Santa Fe. 

It’s easier to climb into the third row than the last model and than most other seven seaters. It’s easier to climb into the third row than the last model and than most other seven seaters.

How spacious is it?

Space in the front is great, it fits me and the taller people in my family comfortably with enough leg and headroom that nobody is complaining about being cramped. 

The second row is also spacious, my kids are aged seven and nine, and fit in happily. I can sit in at 161cm (5'3") with loads of room between my knees and seat in front of me - placed at a taller person’s driving position - so you can tell taller adults and teenagers won’t have any issue, either. 

Space in the front is great, it fits me and the taller people in my family comfortably. Space in the front is great, it fits me and the taller people in my family comfortably.

Into the third row and you can tell these are the 'spare seats in the back', as opposed to a full-size positions. But they're great 'just-in-case' seats, you never know when you’ll have to drive a few children to netball training.

The Santa Fe has curtain airbags that go to the back row glass, but don't cover the entire area, so you wouldn’t want to use these seats permanently to travel with children. They are definitely spare seats. 

The second row is also spacious, my kids are aged seven and nine, and fit in happily. The second row is also spacious, my kids are aged seven and nine, and fit in happily.

The boot is large when the third row is down. It’s been upsized to 571L of space, which is enough for a double pram or you can fit suitcases, and it’s plenty to go away on a road trip. 

Pop the back row up and the boot shrinks to 130L, which is enough for school bags if you’re picking up kids for a playdate after school.

  • The boot is large when the third row is down. The boot is large when the third row is down.
  • It’s been upsized to 571L of space, which is enough for a double pram or you can fit suitcases. It’s been upsized to 571L of space, which is enough for a double pram or you can fit suitcases.
  • Pop the back row up and the boot shrinks to 130L. Pop the back row up and the boot shrinks to 130L.
  • It's enough for school bags if you’re picking up kids for a playdate after school. It's enough for school bags if you’re picking up kids for a playdate after school.

How does it drive?

Driving in the Santa Fe is great. This is the diesel version, all variants of which are AWD. But if you’re after a FWD you can go for the petrol engine options, which are all FWD, and $4000 cheaper.

This diesel model has a 2.2L engine which gets you up hills quickly, and it doesn’t feel too heavy on take off, either. It cruises nicely along highways and handles really well.

This diesel model has a 2.2L engine which gets you up hills quickly, and it doesn’t feel too heavy on take off, either. This diesel model has a 2.2L engine which gets you up hills quickly, and it doesn’t feel too heavy on take off, either.

You feel safe and confident driving this car. It’s effortless and you don’t really have to think about it. 

Parking is decent. It's a long car but pick the right spot and you’ll be able to get it in there. It has a good reverse parking camera to help you out and the turning circle doesn’t feel too large, so you can get it where you’re going efficiently. 

You feel safe and confident driving this car. You feel safe and confident driving this car.

How safe is it?

Safety has also been improved across the range for 2021, and the Auto Emergency Braking (AEB) function with pedestrian and cyclist detection has been upgraded to include a junction feature, which means it works while turning the car as well. 

There’s also lane follow assist, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert. 

There are two ISOFIX points and three top tether points to fix kids car seats in safely. Plus it has a full size spare tyre underneath the car which is getting rarer and rarer these days. 

How much does it cost to own?

The Hyundai Santa Fe in diesel costs $48,200, before on road costs.

Fuel consumption is a claimed 6.1L/100km and I did an average of 7.9L/100km doing mostly city driving. Not many highways this week. 

The Hyundai Santa Fe in diesel costs $48,200, before on road costs. The Hyundai Santa Fe in diesel costs $48,200, before on road costs.

It’s covered by a five year/unlimited km warranty. Servicing is required every 12 months/15,000km and servicing for the diesel model is capped at $459 per service for five years ($399 for the petrol version).


The Wrap

This is such a good family car with an excellent amount of space, plus you get the two spare seats in the back which is such a bonus. It drives really well and even though this is the base model it still looks good, with a lot of value packed in. 

I gave it a family rating of eight out of 10 and my kids gave it the same, they liked being able to drive around with their friends onboard - a lot more than I did!

Likes

Good value for money
Great interior space
Drives well

Dislikes

Basic interior design
Curtain airbags don't cover third row
Tricky device connection

Scores

Nedahl:

4

The Kids:

4

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