The 2.2L CRDi turbocharged mill produces 193 PS @ 3,800 rpm and 440 Nm from 1,750 to 2,750 rpm. This power runs through a new 8-speed automatic transmission and a Hyundai HTRAC all-wheel-drive system with active torque control. The HTRAC does give this Santa Fe some light off-roading capabilities but few of the typical owners will use it for actual off-roading. There are benefits, however, of an all-wheel-drive system on the road and that is the power distrbution between axles to give better traction.
In comparison, the petrol engine is a 2.4L Theta II MPi with 172 PS @ 6,000 rpm and 225 Nm of torque @ 4,000 rpm that is transferred to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic gearbox.
Staying true to its form as a 7-seater, the latest Santa Fe has grown slightly to 4,770 mm in length (+80 mm), 1,890 mm in width (+10 mm) and 1,680 mm in height, sitting on a wheelbase that is 65 mm longer (2,765 mm). The growth is a positive for occupant comfort and cargo space (547 litres with all seats up), but this comes with the compromise of parking in tight spots and heft.
Despite its size, the Santa Fe 2.2L CRDi Premium test unit makes good use of the torque-y output of the turbo diesel engine to keep this SUV feeling more urgent when you floor the throttle, which is great for overtaking. Then once you get up to the desired speed, the 8-speed gearbox allows you to cruise frugally.
The Santa Fe’s suspension feels a tad firm but does not present much discomfort to its occupants, save maybe for the ones in the third row (which we did not get to experience) as they sit over the axle. The suspension does aid in tackling winding roads albeit with some body roll; it is a large and tall vehicle after all. But it is none that will throw out your confidence.
The HTRAC all-wheel-drive system ensures torque is distributed between the front and rear axles depending on the need for optimum grip. Safety features include stability control, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitor, hill descent control and six airbags.
For a diesel vehicle, there is not much clatter intruding into the cabin. The same can be said of wind and road noise unless you up the speed by quite a bit. This results in a relaxed cabin to be in on a long drive.
Now we move on to the more subjective part – the look. While this fourth-generation looks more sophisticated than its predecessors, the two-tiered light cluster in the front may polarise opinion. Visually, your eyes are naturally drawn to the top cluster which is the daytime running lights. The headlights proper sit lower, in the front bumper where one thinks fog lights reside. Whether you are for or against such a design, there is no doubt that the new Santa Fe presents an edgier and more distinct look. The rest of the SUV looks to be evenly proportioned although the rear might look somewhat tame when compared to the front. Except for the Premium variant. That one gets a different and more attractive set of tail lights. Furthermore, all lights are LED in the Premium variants.
As mentioned, cargo space is a very usable 547 litres that expands to 1,625 litres with the seats folded (conveniently via buttons located in the boot); the tailgate is powered. It’s also easy for passengers to climb in and out of the third row (a tad easier we might add, than the previous gen) with the easy tilt-and-slide lever on the second row.
The interior design is decidedly less utilitarian-looking now and comes with leather trim on the dashboard, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity in an infotainment system with 7″ touchscreen, 7″ digital instrument cluster, climate control, powered front seats and also Rear Occupant Alert so that you will never leave anyone behind.
The range-topping Premium diesel variant will cost you RM211,888. We think the Santa Fe is oft overlooked by those shopping for 7-seater SUVs, and it is true that there are competitively priced rivals. But for that price, you get the benefit of torque as well as driving distance so it is something to consider if you are in the market for a family-sized SUV. You will also get five-year unlimited mileage warranty and three years’ (or 50,000 km) worth of free service.