The current Hyundai Santa Fe, launched just two years ago, is already getting a restyling. A big anticipated evolution even, since almost everything changes! Enough to highlight the strengths of this traveler cut out for the great outdoors. Volume, 7 seats and hybrid engines which make it an almost unique offer among large general SUVs.

The Santa Fe may be little known here, the first generation was one of the first mainstream SUVs offered in Europe, when it was released in 2000. Apart from the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, they were rare. Twenty years later, Hyundai has seriously upgraded the range and size of its star SUV, which is now among the large formats … 4.79 m long, almost 30 cm more than the first Santa Fe. In America from the North, his favorite market, it is considered a “Mid-size SUV”. A banal intermediate size, in fact. With us, it’s a little different: he measures his rivals quite clearly the Peugeot 5008, Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, the only generalists to offer 7 seats, but all shorter (from 9 to 15 cm).

This big beefy, of which this fourth generation appeared in 2019, So just starting his career … and is already undergoing a reshuffle, presented at the end of 2020. Barely a year after its launch, this is as early as it is surprising. Especially since this big restyling, very thorough, would pass almost for a new generation since even the technical base, the whole car in reality, has been redesigned. The reason is twofold: to save money by sharing the platform of the new Kia Sorento, its cousin of the Hyundai group – Kia, and to allow the arrival of hybrid versions, not compatible with the previous version.

Result, everything has changed! And not just her look, which has become more massive, flanked by a new gaping grille. It imposes some, moreover. The interior is also completely revised, the chassis is new, and the range receives two hybrids: a PHEV therefore (265 hp and approximately 55 km of electric range), and the classic hybrid that interests us today. Note also, for large rollers, that a Diesel is still in the catalog (2.2 CRD-i, 202 ch).

Hyundai Santa Fe test (2021): America with Korean sauce

Honorable performance (0 to 100 km / h in 8.9 s) and smooth running are required for this conventional hybrid mechanism. Relatively sober, his appetite turns autoru 7.5 l / 100 km in mixed route.

Good to know: anticipate the purchase and resale.

It is possible to know the resale or trade-in value of your vehicle thanks to the auto Turbo rating of your Hyundai Santa Fe, the alternative to the Argus rating.

Giant for 7

Atypical, this Korean. Even quite confusing, getting behind the wheel for the first time. While the obsession with all-touch and overbidding screens turns (often) to the ridiculous, Hyundai has decided to do the opposite with a layout … aviation. High center console, avalanche of buttons that Porsche would not have denied in the great times: one key, one function! We get lost in it, then we get used to it. However, the Santa Fe is up to date when it comes to in-car technology. The central screen and its various menus are quite easy to understand, the digital instrumentation is clear and readable, and we find some of the refinements of the new Tucson. The blind spot display controlled by camera, for example.

We will rather remember the Santa Fe its practical aspects and its modularity. There is no shortage of space, the storage spaces are plentiful and spacious, and even if the third row serves as an extra space, two adults (be careful with the head however!) Can slip in and hold out for at least a few kilometers: the central row can slide (12 cm amplitude) and free up adequate legroom, without penalizing the occupants of the environment. Finally, note that the two rows are easily split, and foldable from the trunk, by electric control.

Hyundai Santa Fe test (2021): America with Korean sauce

The dashboard would almost have its place on board an A380. Cascading buttons! The media interface is nevertheless complete, modern, and the equipment very rich, particularly in terms of driving aids.

The findings are more mixed on the trunk side. 571 l in 5-seater configuration: in absolute terms, the volume is generous enough for classic family use or play the movers on occasion (up to 1,649 l with all seats folded). But given its imposing dimensions, we expected better. The 5008 and Kodiaq, in equivalent configuration, claim 700 and 630 l respectively … despite their smaller dimensions!

The quiet force

This non-rechargeable hybrid version is technically simple. The mechanics consists of the well known 4-cylinder 1.6 l turbo from the Korean group (180 hp), combined with a 60 hp electric motor. The system works like any conventional hybrid: the objective is not to cover complete journeys in all-electric (the 1.49 kWh battery is of too low capacity to allow it), but to alternate and optimize the stresses of the two motors as a function of the driving phases. There is also no “EV” button to force the operation in electric, unlike what Toyota offers on the RAV4 or Corolla for example. Is it really useful? For a classic hybrid, not really.

Hyundai Santa Fe test (2021): America with Korean sauce

The third row is rather easy to access, but often cramped. To help out, two adults still stick to it without suffering too much. The Santa Fe is more like five.

In use, this mechanism delivers a nice pleasure. Transparent in its gasoline / electric transitions, and energetic enough to move its 1,855 kg (the combined torque of 350 Nm is however not folichon). The Santa Fe thus rigged shines above all for its smooth running and soundproofing. And unlike what we undergo at Toyota or Honda, the Santa Fe does not give the impression of slaughtering its engine at the slightest sustained boost. Here, no variator box but a classic 6-speed automatic transmission.

Everything nevertheless invites a peaceful driving, including its road behavior. Comfortable and reassuring, except at low speed where the damping hammers too sharply on irregularities. There is no question of venturing out of the tarmac for too long, moreover: the Santa Fe hybrid is a simple traction, the all-wheel drive being reserved for the PHEV.

Hyundai Santa Fe test (2021): America with Korean sauce

4.79 m long, at least 10 cm longer than its generalist competitors: the Hyundai Santa Fe is pretty much alone in its field. A fortiori in hybrid, since it is the only one to offer such a 7-seater engine.

Moreover, as with most hybrids of this type, fuel consumption is (very) variable geometry depending on the profile of the road. Very economical in town or on a peri-urban route (around 6 l / 100 km), his appetite revolves around 8 l / 100 km on the expressway. Nothing crippling, but like it or not, the Diesel will remain the friend of tireless highway surveyors.

Prices: all-inclusive policy

Not really given, the Santa Fe starts at 41,900 € in Hybrid 230 in Intuitive finish. But at this price, the endowment is already ultra-complete : heated seats, reversing camera, Carplay / Android connection, lane keeping … Driving aids are even richer on our top-of-the-range Executive version (€ 53,800). There, we have the head-up display, camera blind spot control, leveling for the rear suspensions and even heated and ventilated rear seats. The range is simple: almost everything is standard (the only options are the sunroof and metallic paint).

Hyundai Santa Fe test (2021): America with Korean sauce

No all-wheel drive, the Santa Fe remains a simple traction. To take advantage of 4-wheel drive, it will be necessary to move towards the PHEV … almost 6,000 euros more expensive than our classic hybrid.

Despite the hybridization, the Santa Fe is still penalized by our national CO2 penalty. Fortunately, the impact is relatively light (from 144 g to 153 g depending on the version, i.e. from € 280 to € 818 in malus), and allows the hybrid to be more competitive to buy than the Santa Fe Diesel (€ 52,800): only offered in the superior Executive version, this is taxed at € 2,370 (166 g / km).

Technical characteristics Hyundai Santa Fe (2021)

Model tested: Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid 230 Executive
Dimensions L x W x H 4.785 / 1.900 / 1.710 m
Wheelbase 2,765 m
Trunk volume 7/5/2 places 130 l / 571 l / 1.649 l
Unloaded weight 1.855 kg
Engine 4-cylinder petrol, turbo, 1.598 cm3 + synchronous electric motor
Combined power 230 hp (thermal: 180 hp, electric: 60 hp)
Combined torque 350 Nm at 1,500 rpm
Transmission Traction, 6-speed automatic transmission
0 to 100 km / h 8.9 s
Max speed 187 km / h
Consumption announced 6.4 to 6.9 l / 100 km (WLTP), 7.5 l / 100 km readings
CO2 rate from 144 to 153 g / km
Bonus / penalty 2020 from 280 to 818 €
Prices from 41,900 € (model tested: 53,800 euros)