Hyundai has become an SUV specialist of sorts, at least in our market. Sure, their Tucson and Santa Fe models are not exactly segment leaders in sales, but these are solid products. Just as solid as the Ioniq, but with a higher ground clearance and sans hybrid powertrain.
Instead, the Santa Fe runs on a choice of either petrol or diesel engines. For some reason Hyundai is rather consistent with the latter, in a time when it is not enjoying the warmest of public image. And it even functions as the top-shelf model in a line-up comprising of Executive and Premium trim for each engine. Having said that, let me just lay it down on you straight – I don’t think you want to buy the Santa Fe with the 2.4-litre petrol engine.
So I hear you ask “Bro, is it because it’s underpowered?”
Not at all. Repeat: not underpowered. It has 172ps and 225Nm, and for an SUV meant to carry the family it goes around well enough. Some overtakes will need some planning but nothing to be disappointed about. On the other hand, the 2.2 CRDi packs 193ps and a much more pleasant 440Nm. The 8-speed automatic gearbox is two more ratios more than the petrol, thus does highway runs more efficiently. So yes, the diesel just has more twist and power. Useful when all 7-seats are used, or when taking advantage of the fully-folding second and third rows and carrying plenty of cargo.
However, what really makes the CRDi the variant to have is ride quality. It has a much more accomplished and sophisticated set-up that makes the petrol – for the lack of a better word – feel crushingly inadequate. The petrol picks up all the little tarmac imperfections and transmit it into the cabin, making it awkwardly rough. If the point is to make the Santa Fe feel sporty (which I doubt), then a big point of it being an SUV is lost here. Again, which is why I think the diesel should be the only consideration.
While you’re at it, get the Premium variant. That way, you get the good stuffs – 19-inch tyres, Rear-occupant alert, Blind Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, LEDs for headlights and taillights, leather upholstery, and 7-inch touchscreen. Sure, all this is also available in the Premium 2.4-litre petrol variant too, but remember, this less efficient, less comfortable Santa Fe is not what you want… probably. Apparently, Hyundai Sime Darby Motors have sold all the Premium versions of this SUV although other shipments are coming in. Price for the 2.2 CRDi Premium? RM211,888.
Urmm, RM211,888? For a Hyundai Santa Fe? Mind you, this is the introductory price. To put it mildly – that’s steep. I mean every single word when saying that it’s comfortable, refined, and accomplished (and much more), but, that’s a sticker price that makes me go: Whoa!