By Mike Torpey on 2012-06-25 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2
ONE minute an SUV laden with sports gear, the next a full-blown people carrier complete with squawking clutch of kids.
You could be behind the wheel of the latest incarnation of Hyundai's versatile and punchy Santa Fe model.
While recent years have seen the Korean manufacturer enjoy a huge rise in fortunes courtesy of its compact ‘i' and ‘ix' model lines, the Santa Fe has experienced a renaissance of its own as Hyundai's principal all-rounder.
Value for money is the serious selling point for an eight-strong line-up of four five-seater and as many seven-seater versions, with a choice of Style or Premium specification and prices from £23,745.
The Santa Fe has always come loaded with goodies and latest models see front and rear skid plates - which add 25mm to overall length - high-gloss front fog lamp surrounds, a chrome tailgate trim and Bluetooth with voice recognition join the party.
There's also now Downhill Brake Control on automatics like the tested Style version and speed sensitive automatic door locks on all models while seven-seat versions also have self-levelling suspension.
So you can't quibble with the kit, or sensible touches like a pair of overhead sunglasses holders and an ioniser system which helps eliminate bad odours in the cabin by preventing the build up of bacteria.
What's irritating though is that Hyundai still has the indicator stalk on the wrong side, so you indicate to turn and windscreen wipers come on.
Space inside is excellent unless the driver has very long legs - the front seats don't slide back as far as in some cars in order to guarantee plenty of second row legroom.
And while two third row seats are large and wide, they are also realistically only for kids as there's not that much headroom. Access is fine though as the middle row seats both tumble and fold.
The large tailgate is also handy for loading and there's plenty of luggage space unless the rear pair of seats are in use.
But Hyundai has removed that old petrol versus diesel dilemma from the equation because every Santa Fe now features a 2.2-litre CRDi oil-burner producing 194bhp, plus the benefit of four-wheel drive.
It's a cracking unit too, with enough punch to comfortably tow a trailer or transport a full complement of seven aboard.
If you're looking to maximise efficiency there's an Eco Drive indicator on automatic versions to monitor fuel efficiency, while manual models have an optimum gear shift indicator built into the trip computer display.
And the on-demand 4WD set-up runs in two-wheel drive mode under normal conditions, but if the sensors detect the front wheels losing grip then power is split between the front and rear axles to boost traction.
The system can also be locked into four-wheel drive mode at the push of a button.
Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Style
Mechanical: 194bhp, 2,199cc 4-cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via six-speed automatic transmission
Max Speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 10.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 38.2
Insurance Group: 29 (1-50)
C02 emissions: 197g/km
Bik rating: 32%
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