2001's Hyundai Santa Fe has never quite achieved the same impressive sales figures in the UK as it has elsewhere, particularly in the USA. When it comes to 4x4s, the British consumer seems rather set in his ways, preferring a more traditional badge such as 'Land Rover.' However the more open minded buyer found a competent and well built vehicle for a relatively bargain price.
The first generation used Hyundai Santa Fe originally came with two powerplant options; 177bhp 2.7-litre V6 and 143bhp 2.4-litre petrol units, which were swiftly followed by a 115bhp 2.0-litre turbo diesel. This was removed from the line up in 2003, replaced with a much better 2.0-litre CRTD. Cosmetic improvements in 2004 were added to with the disappearance of the 2.4 litre V6, leaving the original 2.7-litre petrol and the popular 2.0-litre CRTD. The second generation launch in 2006 kept the original petrol engine with its four-speed automatic gearbox option, but went with a better 2.2 litre Common Rail Turbo Diesel, originally 148bhp but within months upgraded to 155bhp with improved emissions figures. 2007 saw a 400-unit production run of the 'Limited' special edition, featuring various cosmetic tweaks, while 2009 saw the end of the dated 2.4 V6 petrol engine. 2010 brought the Hyundai Santa Fe a major redesign along with a new 2.2 litre 194bhp diesel engine boasting much improved fuel economy.
Bang for your buck
Interiors are robust rather than refined and rear passenger space has been sacrificed in favour of boot space, conveniently featuring a lift-gate rear window to avoid having to open the large boot door for small items. While two adults can be comfortably seated in the back, you would usually expect a wider bench seat in a car of the SUV class. Fortunately post-2006 models improved upon this, along with adding a seven-seat option featuring much more versatility in seat configuration as well as self-levelling suspension.
Materials used in the cabin aren't those found in luxury vehicles but should offer durability, while higher spec models feature leather, CD stereo and the standard electrical gadgets. Used Hyundai Santa Fe Trim levels are designated GSi, CDX and CDX+, with specs being significantly improved in second generation models, when ESP stability control, dual zone air-conditioning, heated front seats and a multi-adjustable steering wheel were added to the CDX, with additional satellite navigation and a cooled front centre console box for the CDX+.
Rather bold body styling provoked comment on the first generation models and was not universally popular, but 2006's softer and more conventional curves garnered approval. Desirable safety features, offered as an option in the first years became standard kit on later models, with impressive safety test results reflected in low insurance costs.
What you'll pay
Never aimed at the top end of the market, early second hand Hyundai Santa Fe cars for sale have fallen off a cliff, pricewise. 2001 X plate 2.4-litre models can be found at around £3,000, with 2.7-litre V6 versions not much more. The diesels have fared better, a 2.0-litre turbo diesel from 2001 going for about £3,500. Later generation gas-guzzling petrol cars are almost non-existent, while the majority of the diesels were seven-seaters, starting at about £12,000 for a 2006 in CDX trim. Make sure you aim for the 155bhp variant instead of its short-lived 148bhp predecessor. You'll pay about £500 extra for an automatic gearbox and the same for the CDX+ trim.
What to check
While no specific recurring faults have been reported, check for damage caused by inappropriate off-roading and wonky tyre wear.
Replacement parts are reassuringly priced at around £10 for an air filter, around £30 for a fuel filter and £8 for an oil filter. Spark plugs are £4 each and a new cam belt will be about £70.
How it drives
While it will happily take you up a rutted track, the approved used Hyundai Santa Fe is not an off-roader in the style of a Land Rover or a Toyota Land Cruiser, although as a consequence it boasts much smoother cornering and ride. Nor will it make your blood pump faster in speed tests, early versions failing to develop much in the way of torque below 3000rpm. The used Hyundai Santa Fe is comfortable rather than exciting.
Post 2006 models benefited from an improved engine line up, with more advanced technology allowing the diesel's variable geometry turbocharger to come alive from 1,800-2,500rpm and the petrol unit to develop a well-spaced out185bhp with Constantly Variable Valve Technology and a Variable Intake System.
Brakes and suspension are impressive but the Hyundai Santa Fe is still a better urban warrior than country workhorse. It's a good buy for the money.