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Hyundai Santa Fe (2006-2012) Buying Guide

Hyundai Santa Fe (2006-2012)
Hyundai Santa Fe (2006-2012)Hyundai Santa Fe (2006-2012)Hyundai Santa Fe (2006-2012)Hyundai Santa Fe (2006-2012)Hyundai Santa Fe (2006-2012)Hyundai Santa Fe (2006-2012)Hyundai Santa Fe (2006-2012)Hyundai Santa Fe (2006-2012)Pictures shown may not represent exact model specified

by Richard Dredge

Hyundai turned a corner with the second-generation Santa Fe, but while the product was better than ever the brand's image still trailed behind. As a result the Santa Fe was always sold at keen prices, and hefty depreciation has long made this full-size SUV something of a bargain. One of the most reliable, spacious and practical SUVs around, the Santa Fe is an impressive beast if you want a top-value, reliable car to cart the family around or tow. Or both. So while it hasn't got the most prestigious badge and the cabin isn't the classiest design around, if you're looking for a great-value off-roader that's more for go than for show, the Santa Fe should fit the bill perfectly.

We LikeWe Don't Like
Smart looks
Excellent diesel engine
Well equipped
Towing abilities
Low-rent image
V6 is very thirsty
So-so to drive
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Key Dates 
3/06The second-generation Santa Fe reaches showrooms with a 2.7-litre V6 petrol engine or a 2.2-litre turbodiesel. There are GSI, CDX or CDX+ trim levels, with all cars getting five seats as standard, but a third row is optional.
8/06A slightly more powerful, Euro IV-compliant diesel engine arrives.
1/10A facelifted car goes on sale with a revised interior, nose and tail, plus a more powerful all-new diesel engine that's also more economical.
  • Where fitted, the third row of seats isn't that roomy. This isn't a car for seven adults on long journeys.
  • Listen for a high-pitched whine with the steering on full lock, suggesting that the power steering pump is on its way out.
  • The Santa Fe has only a four-star EuroNCAP rating; some of its rivals can claim the full five stars.
  • The petrol engine is chain-driven but the diesel engine needs a fresh cam belt every 10 years or 100,000 miles.
  • The central locking can play up, locking all of the doors for no reason.
  • The air-con can fail, but it's unusual. It can be either the drive belt or the compressor; failure of the former can immobilise the car.
  • Some of the interior plastics feel flimsy, as does some of the switchgear. However, problems are few and far between.
  • The Santa Fe is a very capable tow car, but being asked to pull two tonnes takes its toll on the brakes, clutch and suspension.
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