By Mike Torpey on 2023-07-23 - 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
1.6T Ultimate PHEV
PRACTICALITY sometimes comes at a cost - especially if the model in question is a seven-seater, a plug-in hybrid model or a combination of both.
It can mean a compromise of some sort, whether that be regards the vehicle's styling, dynamics, fuel economy or simply its price tag.
Enter the Hyundai Santa Fe, a full-blown SUV that's been sold in the UK for 22 years yet seems fresher, and more desirable, than ever.
What's more it's still scooping up accolades, among the latest being the 2023 Seven-seater of the Year and Best Plug-in Hybrid for Big Families in the annual What Car? Awards.
The Sante Fe doesn't exactly come at a giveaway price as its starting point is a princely Â£42,890 but there are various reasons why it continues to be one of the UK's favourite seven-seat models.
And it bucks previous trends for cars of its type courtesy of an elegant design, a spacious and adaptable interior as well as being top heavy with high tech kit.
Let's start with that interior. There's more space than in previous Santa Fe models and while in many seven-seaters the third row is strictly for kids that's not the case here.
In fact not only can adults fit comfortably aboard the rear pair but access is made simpler as the second row seats can be slid out of the way at the touch of a button.
There are also ultrasonic sensors to monitor the rear seats so that if the system detects any movement in any of those seats after the driver has left the car then the horn will go off and the lights flash.
The front driver and passenger seats are also electrically adjustable and the second row will fold flat with a single touch, otherwise the overall feel of the cabin is of a high quality with soft touch materials and plenty of leather accents.
As for boot space there's a useful 571 litres if the rearmost seats are folded but, not surprisingly, things are on the tight side with all seven in place.
Both hybrid and plug-in hybrid models are available along with a 2.2-litre diesel, though much the most efficient is our tested PHEV variant, and there are two highly specced trim grades of Premium and Ultimate.
The PHEV is powered by the Korean manufacturer's 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine paired with a 66.9kW electric motor and battery pack, giving it an official pure electric range of 36 miles.
Stay disciplined, keep the battery charged - ideally using a home wallbox to save money - and you should benefit from outstanding economy.
Hyundai's claim is 173.4 miles per gallon but if you deplete the battery on longer trips then that figure is likely to drop to around the 40mpg mark.
Performance is strong though (0-60 in 8.8 seconds) with a smooth, comfortable ride quality even with a full complement aboard and these cars also have four-wheel drive and self-levelling suspension. Company car drivers will also appreciate the 12 per cent benefit-in-kind rate.
Another compelling feature of the Santa Fe is the level of its standard kit. Premium includes pretty much everything a family might reasonably expect and then a little more, while Ultimate raises the bar further.
That means adding the likes of a surround view monitor system with remote smart parking assist, a 12.3-inch touchscreen, head-up display, blind spot monitor, perforated leather upholstery and highway drive assist. And all models come with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty.
Hyundai Santa Fe 1.6T Ultimate PHEV
Mechanical:265ps, 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine plus electric motor driving four wheels via six-speed auto transmission
0-62mph: 8.8 seconds
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