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The seven-seat MPV is dead, long live the seven-seat SUV. Priced from £32,855, does Hyundai's Santa Fe offer the value and substance to muscle in on the 21st century family car sector?
Front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, privacy glass, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats
SE, Premium, Premium SE
Let's face it, MPVs may be practical, versatile and, in certain cases, surprisingly good to drive, but a big box-on-wheels with windows is still about as exciting as filling in a tax return form.
Thankfully, there are cars like Hyundai's all-new seven-seat Santa Fe, which give you all the family-friendly aspects of an MPV wrapped up in a rough-tough off-roader bodyshell.
Speaking of which, because the Santa Fe has been redesigned to make it more appealing to Europeans, if you nailed four interlocking rings on that doppelganger cascading grille, you could probably convince plenty of folks that it was an all-new Audi.
Allow them inside though, and they'd quickly work out they'd been scammed.
Trailing behind German quality
Yes, the Santa Fe is much improved compared with the previous model but we're still not talking high-end Germanic levels of material quality here
You do get a central touchscreen, and the usual phone and infotainment features, but really, it all looks a bit staid especially compared with the visual and tactile treats you get in a Peugeot 5008.
Increased size and practicality
Accompanying the new look, the car has grown quite a bit, with the distance between the front and rear axles stretched by 65mm and the ride height raised by 5mm.
Consequently, along with plenty of room for those up front, there's a generous amount of second-row space and you can also adjust the amount of legroom back there to your heart's content, thanks to sliding seat runners.
The seats don't divide individually; instead, they split 60/40, which is not a problem until you come to let someone into the rearmost row from the more often than not used pavement side.
Although a simple press of a button allows the seat backs to fold and the whole caboodle to slide forwards, if you're over the age of ten, you'll need to be pretty nifty on your pins to clamber over the remaining section of seat.
Adults sitting right at the back will feel a wee bit hemmed in on longer journeys, but the kids will be perfectly comfortable, and they'll even get to play with their own air-conditioning controls.
With all seats in place, the boot is on the tight side, but it'll still cope with a half dozen full 10p shopping bags and there's also a useful underfloor storage facility where the luggage cover lives when not in use. Flip the rear seats forward and you can create an almost flat load bay of close to Transit Courier-sized proportions.
A competent device
As for motivation, there's just one 2.2-litre diesel engine, which can be had with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox, along with front or four-wheel drive.
No doubt your predilection for the school run or black ski runs will influence your decision here.
Being a big seven-seat SUV, we're obviously not talking sports cars levels of handling, but the Santa Fe is still a pretty competent device.
"If you nailed four interlocking rings on that doppelganger grille you could convince plenty that it was an all-new Audi"
There is a fair bit of body float, which you will notice in corners and under heavy braking, but the ride is reasonably smooth with just the odd suspension latter evident over reallycruddy surfaces.
Although the 2.2 diesel engine can sound a little strained and you will experience some vibration filtering into the cabin beyond 3,000rpm, you rarely have to go there, as it pulls well from low revs and has plenty of mid-range grunt.
For such a big car, wind noise is also pretty well suppressed but this does make the amount of tyre noise, especially when cornering, stand out all the more.
Safety-conscious parents will be encouraged to learn that the Santa Fe also gets plenty of important safety equipment, including lane-keeping assist, high-beam assist and automatic emergency braking.
Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 Premium SE Auto 7st
On sale Now
Fuel consumption 37.3mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 164g/km (37%)
BIK 20/40% a month £255/£510
Boot space547-1,624 litres
Engine size/power 2,199cc/200hp
Plenty of space, well equipped, strong engine, comfortable ride
Interior design lacks imagination, some plastics feel cheap