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Hyundai Santa Fe

SANTA WITHOUT A CLAUSE (some text hidden)

June Neary takes to the lanes in Hyundai's Santa Fe family SUV

Will It Suit Me?word count: 90

For me, mud plugging doesn't really hold any great appeal, so would Hyundai's family-sized fourth generation Santa Fe tempt me to join the ranks of the on-road off-roader drivers? Well, possibly. After all, it has everything you'd want from a good-sized family car and you don't have to have it with 4WD. And if I did change my mind, go for an all-wheel driven version and decide to drive across a field (I can't think why I'd do that, but you never know), I'd be tooled up for the job.

Practicalitiesword count: 221

There's a choice of either manual or automatic versions. Either way, this chunky five-door comes equipped with seven-seats and a whole host of goodies. Choice was definitely on the agenda when Hyundai designed this car. The top-spec 2.2-litre CRDi diesel model I tested had a sunroof, reversing sensors and air-con, along with all the usual gadgetry, including a decent surround sound audio system and leather seats - not my own personal favourite on the upholstery front, but each to his or her own. At least the seat facings are easy to wipe sticky marks from. One area where the old MK3 Santa Fe was noticeably slipping behind the pack was in terms of interior build quality. Although everything seemed durable and customer satisfaction surveys have shown that little goes wrong, the perception of quality was an aspect that needed addressing. So it is that the fourth generation Santa Fe now offers higher quality metal detailing, classier upholstery fabrics and smart leathers. And practicality? Well, in the seven-seat version I tried, the third row of seating was difficult to get into, even for kids, but once younger ones had reached it, they seemed quite happy. Of course, with three seating rows in place, there's precious little luggage space, but if you put the rearmost chairs down, there's a decent 547-litres on offer.

Behind the Wheelword count: 159

Step inside the cabin and everything falls easily to hand. All the controls are logically placed and it's quite roomy - no chance of elbowing my other half in the chest by accident. Come to think of it, it'd be pretty difficult to do it on purpose - shame. Some of my taller passengers have occasionally had to open the sunroof on test cars in order to avoid rubbing their heads against the roof lining. Thankfully, this wasn't the case in the Santa Fe. Nice touches include standard height adjustment for the driver's seat and dual power sockets so that the kids' Nintendo games needn't clash with the needs of your mobile 'phone. Responsive power steering comes as standard on all models and the ride is pretty impressive. We took the car out into the Sussex countryside for a pothole test and it came out with flying colours. It was smooth on the motorway too, so no complaints there.

Value For Moneyword count: 188

One inevitable consequence of the Santa Fe becoming better finished, better equipped and better engineered is that prices have crept up, now pitched primarily in the £34,000 to £44,000 bracket. This time round, all variants come only with seven seats and, from the launch of this model in mid-2018, there was only a single engine choice too, the latest version of the brand's four cylinder 2.2-litre CRDi diesel. There is the option of a 2WD model though: indeed, that's what you have to have if you're going to choose one of the entry-level 'SE' trimmed variants you'll need if you're going to get a version of this car priced below £35,000. With the two higher trim levels - 'Premium' and the top 'Premium SE' derivative - 4WD is an £1,800 option. Which means the most affordable 4WD Santa Fe model will cost the best part of £40,000, a figure that might give some potential buyers pause for thought. Across the range, whether you choose a 2WD or a 4WD model, your dealer will offer you the option of the brand's latest 8-speed automatic gearbox for an extra £2,000.

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Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s

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