By Mike Torpey on 2013-09-01 - 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
CRDi 4WD Premium
THE Hyundai Santa Fe built its reputation as a sporty SUV that can switch in a jiffy to a spacious people carrier capable of shifting seven.
With strong fuel economy for a large vehicle, seriously competitive prices and a five-year warranty, it's no surprise that sales have been strong throughout the dozen years the model has graced UK roads.
Precious little was required to propel the quality Korean to the top of the class and the new generation model has completed the job in fine style.
While competition in this area of the market seems to become tougher by the minute, the Santa Fe holds a trump card in that it boasts terrific interior space.
There's plenty of room for three adults in the rear and even the pair of individual third row seats offer more comfort than the ‘strictly for kids' ones you often find elsewhere.
That said, it can be a bit claustrophobic at the very back, and you need to be nimble for hopping in and out.
Fold those back two rows down though - and there are two quick-release levers inside the boot - and the space is cavernous while there's also extra capacity under the boot floor.
All the models, which start with the five-seat Style version at £25,850, have plenty of standard spec while the leather-clad Premium seven-seat automatic is kitted up to the hilt.
Beneath the bonnet is a reworked 2.2-litre CRDi diesel engine producing 197PS - 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 use, in my case 35.4mpg compared to the official figure of 41.5mpg.
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.
With a suspension tuned specifically for UK roads, the Santa Fe offers a softish ride that deals well with bumps and uneven surfaces.
Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi 4WD Premium
Mechanical: 197PS, 2,199cc 4-cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via six-speed automatic transmission
Max Speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 10.1 seconds
Combined MPG: 41.5
Insurance Group: 19
C02 emissions: 178g/km
Bik rating: 30%
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