The dynamism that has been injected into the Hyundai Santa Fe’s exterior styling has leached only slightly into the car’s motive character. For the most part, this car is – just as it was – the soul of day-to-day usability, which is probably as Hyundai intended.
For those trading out of an old Santa Fe, a difference will be detected in this version’s slightly higher ride rates, which trade a little low-frequency compliance at town speeds for better body control at higher speeds. But while it doesn’t quite glide along at 30-50mph like the previous one, this Santa Fe remains more supple than most large 4x4s over an uneven B-road and is well within its comfort zone bowling along more quickly.
Moreover, the ride seems to improve with load – as if Hyundai’s dynamicists had tuned the suspension to attain its most comfortable state at a swift but legal cruise with four occupants on board and a half-full boot.
The standard-fit FlexSteer power steering system allows you to cycle through three assistance levels to find the one that suits you. Even in Sport mode, there’s little feedback available through the rim. Comfort seems to work best; in harmony with the rest of the car, it just makes the wheel that bit more obliging, and willing to self-centre more slowly.
Our test car's secondary ride – the ability of its chassis to deal with rough surfaces and small lumps and bumps – was good, thanks in no small part to the healthy tyre sidewalls wrapped around 18in wheels. Fully loaded Premium SE models come on 19s, so be sure to test drive a car on the largest rims if you want to be certain that the same is true in every case.
Those caveats aside, though, we’d position the Santa Fe midway between competent and accomplished in the way that it behaves on most British roads. It’s far from outstanding and there are plenty of cars in the class that an interested driver might prefer, but many fewer that you’d prefer to live with.