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2006-2012 Hyundai Santa Fe

Do you miss the days when SUVs and softroaders at least had some nominal off road credentials? Such as decent ground clearance, throne-like sitting position and driver-selectable diff lock? The second generation Hyundai Santa Fe might just appeal to you, then.

The mk2 Santa Fe offers class-leading interior space, pleasant ride and generally reliable mechanics, all at very reasonable price too. The interior design isn’t exactly this decade, the factory radio is terrible and the steering is vague at best, but the roomy inside and comfy, noise-free ride makes up the slightly old-fashioned appearance.

Here in Europe we don’t get the superb 3.3-litre V6 petrol engines for example US customers had, the only good petrol one was the older 2.7-litre V6, which generated surprisingly little horsepower for the displacement. Diesels are better, but I’d recommend investing a little bit extra on the facelifted model (from 2010 on) with 197hp diesel pot. The earlier ones were crude and didn’t last very long, resulting often in expensive engine problems. The newer diesel isn’t particularily fast either, but at least produces more refined sound and lasts longer.

While the third generation Santa Fe is more modern in every sense, it’s also more an estate on stilts than a SUV. You don’t get that commanding sitting position, there’s no diff lock and ground clearance is telling you not to adventure much off the road. The mk2 is actually more practical, cheaper and more sure-footed when the road conditions get funky.

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