I couldn't wait to go on holiday in what I thought was going to be a huge off-roader. I was surprised that when attempting to pack it for my family camping jaunt to Cornwall I was not able to get everything in.
I thought it would swallow our four-person tent, table, chairs, stove, gas bottle, two holdalls of clothes, bedding and travel cot with ease.
However, after several re-packs we had to leave the wind-break and baby feeding chair at home and pack the tent, poles and bedding in the front passenger seat, leaving space (just) in the back for one adult plus baby in car seat (with baby's footwell snugly packed).
Comparing the Santa Fe on luggage space with a couple of obvious rivals – the Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester and Land Rover Freelander – revealed some interesting results.
In fourth place, and even removing the rear seats, came the RAV4 with 970 litres of space, third came the Freelander with 1,319 litres, and runner-up the Subaru Forester with 1,528 litres.
But the Santa Fe tops the lot with a whopping 2,100 litres of space. On that basis, next time I go camping I'll have to take a Ford Transit.
The Santa Fe is a pleasure to drive. Although packed to the gills on our holiday, the cabin still felt roomy and was remarkably quiet, even at high speeds. The seats are comfortable and after the long drive from Lincolnshire to Cornwall it was refreshing to get out of a car and not feel the usual back twinges.
There is only one choice of diesel engine in the Santa Fe – a 2.0-litre unit – which combined with the automatic transmission makes the car feel decidedly sluggish when pulling away from a standing start.
However, the auto offers manual upshifts and downshifts, which comes in particularly handy around country lanes.
It is interesting to note that with several thousand miles on the clock since the last road test, fuel consumption at 26.3mpg is still not reaching the manufacturer's claimed combined figure of 30.7mpg, which makes a 63-mile difference on a full tank of fuel, although the fully loaded round trip to Cornwall will have had an impact.
Combining the massive load space, a long list of standard equipment (so much that there are no optional extras) with its bargain price, to offset the maximum 35% of P11d price company car tax liability, means the Santa Fe is worth looking at for people who need something a bit roomier than the average compact SUV.
Company car tax bill 2003/04 (22% tax-payer): £114 per month