Shot from ground level, the front three quarter view of the 2006 mkII Santa Fe helped by arch-filling 18" alloy wheels
Hyundai 4x4 system has option to lock in 4x4 mode, but majority of time drives front wheels only to save energy
Fashion dictates twin rear exhausts
Chunky styling of Santa Fe's rear end looks confident and suitably practical. All like large easy-to-use handle, which has been ditched on the mkIII
I've installed a Kenwood 4016DAB touch screen head unit to update the Santa Fe's woefully out of date original, which had a tape deck!
Interior of this 2006 model has the air of 1990s Vauxhall - plastic faux wood quite horrible. New touch screen Kenwood double din stereo improves things
Alloys have survived the miles well. Not sure if the chrome Side bars
Mid row seating is a big thumbs up from family. Big on headroom, legroom and ability to recline.
Leather seats are comfy, shininess shows they're a generation behind.
Logical but unloveable switches, more fake wood. Eugh.
I wonder if I could get these plastic inserts dipped in different finish?
Side view, pleasantly styled for a 7 seater, shorter than a Ford Galaxy.

Review: Hyundai Santa Fe

March 10, 2017

Having owned this Santa Fe for only a short time, I thought I'd get on and do an early review of it before time and tide rushes by. This 2006 Santa Fe is the latest in a long line of purchases in my search to find a (used) vehicle to suit all our work and family requirements.

Really, I didn't need to change the Audi A4 Avant I'd bought only 6 months ago, but as ever, I found a reason. Actually I found several. I'll let you read about them in my review about the Audi and not bore you here.

The Hyundai was being advertised on Gumtree, and was thankfully close, 10 miles away in fact. I could see from the hand written signs in the windscreen in the photos that the owner had tried roadside advertising to no avail.

On my checklist this time were: bigger tires than the Audi for softer ride, manual gearbox for towing, higher driving positon than the A4, more space for family, 7 seats, optional 4x4 for odd trip onto the rough stuff for work or with caravan, minimum 2.0 140bhp diesel, cruise control. All checked.

The car was slightly light on service history in the current owners hands as he'd carried out his own servicing, but he had enough receipts to show the work, and using the useful MOT checker app backed up the car's mileage.

One of my neighbours remarked that the Santa Fe was like a combination of several of my cars, which I hadn't thought about. It's got the 7 seats of the S-Max, the 4x4 stance of the Discovery, the interior styling of the HONDA FRV, and the practicality of the Volvo XC70. Maybe then the Santa Fe's all-rounder virtues could (perhaps) spell a longer than usual relationship blossoming. 

Update: June 2017

Santa Fe ownership is progressing quietly, which is very welcome after a tumultuous car year in 2016. I've only got 3 months under my belt, but I think I've got the lie of the land now. 

Furthest drive so far has been Exeter to Heathrow. A long motorway drive is when you might wish for the mk3 Santa Fe's 6th gear, but otherwise we cruise do comfortably. The car's transmission is only using 2WD on long road trips, meaning she was able to return 40+ mpg at legal motorway speeds.

The weirdly spaced 2nd-to-3rd gear change is reminiscent of when I've occasionally missed a stair when I've been descending and you feel slightly startled. But you get used to letting the revs rise a little higher in second gear before changing.

Update: August 2018

I've learnt a very valuable lesson about AWD cars, and how sensitive most All Wheel Drive systems are to tire size. To be honest, I'd no idea quite how fragile a chunky SUV soft-roader could be to tire wear, and sizing, and I've been incredibly lucky to not have done any damage to the car. In short, if you EVER think about saving money and just changing your worn out front tires instead of changing them as a set of 4, DON'T! The drivetrain system relies entirely on all 4 wheels and tires being the same size/diameter, otherwise you're in grave danger. How? Because if one set of tires front or rear is turning even at a slightly different rate to the opposing set, then it can 'wind up' the front differential, which then explodes, costing between £2-3k depending on who installs the brand new diff (they're not repairable). Ouch. For proof of other Santa Fe drivetrain problems have a read of this...