2012-2018 used Hyundai Santa Fe buyer's guide

 

One of Australia's best general-purpose family 7-seater SUVs, with a strong diesel powertrain and great value. Used models are now even cheaper owing to an all-new model launched in April 2018

 
 2012-2018 Santa Fe is excellent family transport and a great highway tourer

2012-2018 Santa Fe is excellent family transport and a great highway tourer

 

The 2012-2018 Hyundai Santa Fe will go down in the record books as the vehicle that re-defined Hyundai's position in Australia (from a B-grader to one of the top three carmakers).

If you are after a brand new car, here is my Best Cars list >>

Sure, historically the Hyundai i30, i40 and i45 were steps forward for Hyundai, but the Santa Fe is the first vehicle that goes beyond just toe-to-toe with leading Japanese competitors like the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan X-TRAIL.

Frankly it blows them all out of the water. And it's a great choice in the used market.

 Highlander is pretty much fully loaded, and Elite was traditionally the best value model variant in the range

Highlander is pretty much fully loaded, and Elite was traditionally the best value model variant in the range

Hyundai rocketed ahead in Australia after the GFC because that financial meltdown was a springboard for the company (for exactly the same reasons it signalled a near-death experience for the Americans and severe recession for most of the Japanese). Check out this graph below, describing two very different commercial trajectories:

Hyundai Vs Honda, sales, GFC-2017

Australian sales: Few automakers in Australia can match Hyundai's trajectory. The company now sits in third sales spot overall

Even today (3rd quarter 2018) Honda is still having its post-GFC epileptic fit, while Hyundai is one of the very few carmakers that has doubled its sales in Australia (and then some) since the GFC.

There's no mad science to this - the vehicles and the price are, increasingly, right. The value proposition simply up-ended the Japanese.

 Third seating row access could be better but that third row is more comfortable than many competitors

Third seating row access could be better but that third row is more comfortable than many competitors

Santa Fe is a seven-seat AWD (on-demand AWD) wagon-bodied SUV with a good third row seating arrangement (folds flat into the floor when not needed) and a cracking 2.2-litre diesel engine with superb economy across the range. (There's also an adequate 2.4-litre petrol four in the base model Active.)

So, it'll seat up to seven, tow two tonnes and it comes packed with an impressive suite of standard features. At every equipment grade, and every price point, the value equation is excellent. Resale has been strong, historically, but if you're in the market now, this 2012-2018 model has taken a hit thanks to the all-new Santa Fe >> launched in April 2018. That's great news for you.

Thanks to the five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, there are plenty of used Santa Fe available today with substantial remaining factory warranty.

Check out also my guide to 7 seater SUVs >>

Full Details:

 Many used Santa Fe models in the market now still have substantial remaining manufacturer's warranty

Many used Santa Fe models in the market now still have substantial remaining manufacturer's warranty

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LOVE

  • Strong diesel with great 6sp auto transmission
  • Good comfort, refinement and dynamics
  • Moderate off-road capability
  • 2000kg towing (auto)
  • Brilliant value
  • 5yr warranty with unlimited kilometres
  • Capped price service for life, with 12mth/15,000km service interval
  • 10 years complimentary roadside assist
  • Full-size alloy spare wheel and tyre (where the likes of Nissan X-TRAIL and Mitsubishi Outlander offer a half-baked space-saver)
  • Feels 'Euro' but priced 'Japanese'
  • Has AWD across the range, with lock function for added traction in snow/mud and similar conditions. 

HATE

  • Driver's footrest is too flat
  • Centre LCD screen too bright for some driving at night
  • Front seat base is too long for shorter drivers
  • Standard maximum towball download is just 100kg - that's out of kilter with Aussie expectations (but fitting the Genuine Load Assist Kit >> pumps limit up to a more respectable 150kg)
  • Not as good as a people mover if you're moving seven people all the time - especially combinations of baby seats and the elderly
  • Third row seating access could be better
  • Slight driveline in-cabin resonance at jogging pace, under load but with light throttle input - the sole driveline issue
 2.2 diesel is the engine to get - great economy plus strong mid-range performance and good reliability

2.2 diesel is the engine to get - great economy plus strong mid-range performance and good reliability

Specifications

Diesel Engine: 

Availability: Active, Elite, Highlander & SR
4 cylinder inline, turbocharged
Power: 147 kW @ 3800 rpm
Torque 440 Nm @ 1750-2750 rpm
Transmission: 6 sp auto/manual (manual: Active only)
Economy: 6.3-7.7 L/100km

Petrol Engine:

Availability: Active only
4 cylinder inline, direct injection
Power: 138 kW @ 6000 rpm
Torque 241 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Transmission: 6 sp auto/manual (manual: Active only)
Economy: 9.4 L/100km

 Manufactured: South Korea
Length: 4690 mm
Width: 1880 mm
Height: 1690 mm
Kerb weight: 1968 kg
Maximum tow capacity: 2000 kg (auto) / 2500 kg (manual)
Maximum towball download: 100 kg
(Increases to 150 kg with genuine accessory kit)
Seating Capacity: Seven
Safety: Five-star ANCAP
Warranty: 5 years / unlimited kilometres
Service: capped price for life
Service interval: 12 months or 15,000 km
(whichever comes first)
Roadside assist: 10 years
Spare wheel: Full-sized alloy spare wheel and tyre


Need to know - support & features

Hyundai provides excellent levels of customer support, and Santa Fe reliability, anecdotally is very good. I don't get many Santa Fe complaints, and those I do are resolved quickly. The important point here is that Hyundai has a real commitment to customer support in the unlikely event of a problem, which the likes of Fiat-Chrysler, Holden, Ford, Volkswagen and even Mercedes-Benz lack.

Santa Fe Highlander is very impressively equipped - it comes standard with automated parking >> (you shift the transmission and operate the brake/accelerator, and it steers). It has a 90-degree mode as well as parallel parking, plus an assistance feature for getting you out of tighter spots.

Santa Fe Highlander also features adaptive cruise control, which uses a radar sensor in the grille to sense and automatically adapt the speed and following distance to suit slower traffic ahead. When traffic congestion ahead is detected, the vehicle automatically slows down and maintains a safe following distance.

When congestion eases and the road clears, the system accelerates to your pre-set speed. (This feature is standard on Highlander only - but at the time of writing, if you were to buy a $100k+ Audi Q7 the adaptive cruise feature is an optional feature that would cost you an additional $4075. How's that for value?)

 Santa Fe is one of the used vehicle market's best 'family transport' SUV options

Santa Fe is one of the used vehicle market's best 'family transport' SUV options


Safety

Safety levels are very high. Santa Fe was crash-tested independently by EuroNCAP and the results were validated for Australia by ANCAP, which awarded Santa Fe the coveted five-star safety rating, with a combined safety score of 35.63 out of a possible 37 points. (Compare the disgraceful Range Rover Evoque, on four stars, with 32.49 points, at the time of writing...) More info on the Santa Fe safety rating >> or download the full crash-test technical report >>

 An 'SR' model was launched towards the end of the model's lifecycle. Watch the brake wear on the Brembo Brakes - it's atrocious

An 'SR' model was launched towards the end of the model's lifecycle. Watch the brake wear on the Brembo Brakes - it's atrocious

Left-field suggestion 

If you are a rational car buyer with no aspirations of any off-road adventuring, and if you know you just want to move people and luggage, for exactly the same money you can buy a Kia Carnival >>.

 Kia Carnival - people movers are not as sexy as SUVs, but they would often be w-a-y more practical and versatile

Kia Carnival - people movers are not as sexy as SUVs, but they would often be w-a-y more practical and versatile

People movers are certainly less sexy, but they are a lot more practical at moving people on made roads. There is a lot more room, good dynamics, and fantastic versatility in Carnival - not to mention a seven-year warranty. Among the major points of difference are the fact that third row access is far better in the Carnival, and there is far more viable luggage space when all of the seats are in use. You also get a maximum seatinf capacity of eight in the Carnival, versus seven in the Santa Fe.

Check out my Kia Carnival assessment >>

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