Tow Vehicle: Hyundai Santa Fe

By: Steve Vermeulen, Photography by: Steve Vermeulen

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SUVs are great for towing, and New Zealand’s largest selling model, the Hyundai Santa Fe, has just had a facelift…

Tow Vehicle: Hyundai Santa Fe
Tow Vehicle: Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Brilliant balance between rugged offroader and refined road goer
  • 2.2-litre diesel engine one of the best on the market
  • Great value for money against Japanese rivals

Thanks to well-positioned pricing along with efficiency and low down torque benefits, the Hyundai Santa Fe was also the largest selling diesel vehicle in the country. Now, the newly face-lifted version ups power by 32%.


Look for slightly revised bumper and grill designs, different tail lamps and new alloy wheel options over the outgoing model. The changes are subtle, but no reason to fix what isn’t broke.


It’s much the same inside. Though Hyundai has omitted the faux wood grain dash facia and replaced it with a more attractive carbon fibre pattern.

In addition to the engine upgrade, the facelift has brought about some clever improvements: the seven seat variations receive a convex conversation mirror that flips down from the roof so you can see rear occupants without looking over your shoulder, and the top of the line Elite model has a reversing camera to aid lining up the trailer/caravan/boat.

Those sixth and seventh positions are pretty useful. Still a kid’s only zone, but there’s more room to move in the third row than you’d find in many pricey European models.


With just minor tweaks made to the interior, exterior and chassis of what was already a competent SUV, the engine is the Santa Fe’s pièce de résistance. The new 2.2-litre R series engine is to other Santa Fe engine variants what the combustion engine was to steam power. Such is the impressive performance; everything else is well and truly redundant.

For those not requiring the all-wheel drive, the 3.5-litre petrol V6 front-drive model will do the job, but for towing it can’t come close to the diesel’s awesome 436Nm of low down torque, nor is it in the same league in fuel economy stakes. In the diesel, this averages around 7.4 l/100km when not laboured with anything behind it.

Even when chugging away with the load of a caravan, family and accompanying paraphernalia, the addition of a six-ratio in the automatic transmission keeps the engine rpm low where the peak torque is readily available. Eighty-three percent of owners use theirs for towing, so it’s a tried and true load carrier that’s well suited to Kiwi conditions.

The cabin remains insulated from road and engine noise, and the car is not cumbersome through the corners or around town. A solid well-planted feel on road is evident, along with excellent safety features.

Read in-depth RV reviews in the latest issue of Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine, on sale now.

See new and used Hyundai Santa Fe for sale.


Towing capacity 750kg unbraked / 2000kg braked
Power 145kW @ 3800rpm
Torque 436Nm @ 1800rpm
Transmission Six-speed automatic
Fuel economy 7.4 l/100km
Length 4660mm
Width 1890mm
Height 1760mm
Seating capacity Five and seven-seat options
Luggage capacity 969 litres

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