A Review of a 2002 Hyundai Santa Fe
After owning this compact SUV for four years and driving it 48000 km, I have a few comments to make that may be of value to others interested in such a vehicle or in the brand itself (as this is an example).
In 2008, we replaced our aging 1994 Ford Explorer 4WD SUV with a 2002 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV. We were a little hesitant to do this as the Hyundai seemed smaller, less powerful, somewhat noisy and less luxurious. I wrote a 3-month preliminary review on the car as shown here.
The following is a review of our 2002 Hyundai Santa Fe after owning it for four years and driving it 48000 km in a variety of conditions from -30C to +35C, in snow and in rain.
The Driving Experience
The leather seats in the model we have are heated and this was especially great during our cold Canadian winters. They are manually adjustable for the driver only and this is an advantage, although I still haven't found good settings that will allow me to position my legs comfortably for longer trips (>2 hours). I find that the seats are a little small and don't support my longish legs nor hips very well. The cushioning is quite firm and the leather not very soft. On the other hand, I find the door armrest for my left elbow adequate for longer trips.
The noise which seems to be inherent with this year of Hyundai comes from the drive train and tires. This is a little bothersome but not enough to change vehicles.
The visibility, although good, has a one spot that can get the driver into trouble. The left-front view from the driver's side is somewhat obstructed by the post, so much that the driver may not see a pedestrian or cyclist if they are in the right spot when one is starting away from a stop. I habitually double- and triple-check now when pulling away from a stop sign.
I have always found the handling very good, inspiring confidence in snow and rain, cold and heat. The braking is quite good, never making the driver feel as though he can't stop in time in a controlled manner. I have yet to need all of the braking power available. Anti-skid control came with the vehicle and inevitably shows itself during drives on icy winter roads.
The power of the smallish 2.7L V6 gasoline motor is adequate, although the torque available at less than 3000 rpm is not awe-inspiring. I have never had difficulty cruising at any speed I was allowed to cruise at (and sometimes a bit faster than that). Passing has to be planned. Be prepared for the motor to rev if you are in a hurry. I like the transmission although there seems to be one quirkiness with it. Sometimes, at about 60 kph, when slowly accelerating, the drive train will shudder until the driver removes his foot from the throttle and then replaces it to accelerate again. This vehicle has done this since we bought it. The cruise control works very well, the full-time, all wheel drive is great (apart from being a little harder on fuel), the vehicle is fun to drive and has taken us on long as well a short trips.
The useful space behind the rear seats seems adequate for our purposes. There are many places to store various items, with cup-holders front and back, and pockets here and there to make life easier. The Hyundai Santa Fe has covered power outlets front and back in addition to the regular cigarette lighter outlet.
The driver’s controls are well placed and accessible, the instruments are easy to read and the heating and air-conditioning work well.
The sound system is good but that is all.
I have been keeping accurate records for fuel consumption since purchase. The best consumption on a highway trip has been 30.0 mpg (Imperial) and the overall consumption in 48000 km (so far) is 24.4 mpg (Imperial).
2008 (partial year) 26.4 mpg (Jul-Dec, warmer)
2009 24.2 mpg
2010 24.0 mpg
2011 24.3 mpg
2012 (partial year) 21.7 mpg (Jan-Jun, cooler)
Maintenance and Repairs
The battery has been replaced twice ($186), once this year and once in 2008. The vehicle has been undercoated twice ($265) in this four-year period (unfortunately I missed a couple of years). Engine oil and filter have been changed every 5000 km or twice a year roughly. The timing belt was replaced at about 130K as per regular maintenance ($1084) not because of failure (which could be catastrophic, newer models have chain drive overhead cam rather than belt). This was very expensive maintenance because of the labour involved. The total maintenance including oil and filters was $2508.
Brake repair and maintenance was expensive at $1290 total. Two transmission lines were replaced for $200. The windshield washer pump and motor was replaced for $170. I spent about $20 and two hours refinishing the headlight lenses myself which brought them back to almost new from cloudy (they are still fine after one year since finishing). Total repairs is then $1680.
Overall Cost and Conclusion
Total repairs and maintenance is therefore $4188 (including taxes) for four years of driving. The original cost of the Santa Fe was $11001 (including taxes) which brings the total cost for four years of driving to $15189 or $316 per month not including fuel, licencing and insurance.
Assuming that a new vehicle bought four years ago would require no maintenance and repairs (covered by the dealer perhaps) in this time, it seems likely that I could have bought a new vehicle instead. I would not have been able to get an SUV but a somewhat less expensive although new vehicle.
I like the 2002 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV but am surprised that the cost of ownership has been so high. I would feel happy to replace it with a newer or new model Santa Fe but I believe the cost to be prohibitive at this point. The next vehicle may have to be a small-ish car with 40+ mpg. We'll see how long the present 2002 lasts before the next major expense. It's already ten years old and still looks good and runs very well.