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Review: All-New Hyundai Santa Fe – Good Looks, But..


Review: All-New Hyundai Santa Fe – Good Looks, But..

Since its initial preview at the 2018 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show (2018 KLIMS) back in November 2018, it took Hyundai Sime-Darby Motors another half a year to get the car onto the local market.

Now that the all-new Santa Fe is here, let’s take a closer look at how good Hyundai’s mid-size SUV really is. After all, HSDM is feeling rather confident with the all-new Santa Fe, as they are offering not one, not two, but four different variants.

Specifications for Hyundai Santa Fe 2.4 MPi Premium

  • Price: RM 189,888
  • Engine: 2.4-litre Theta II, naturally-aspirated, inline-four, petrol
  • Power: 172 PS at 6,000 rpm
  • Torque: 225 Nm at 4,000 rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic, Front-wheel drive
  • Safety: Six airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, Downhill Brake Control (DBC), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Blind-spot Collision Warning (BCW), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA)
  • Origin: Locally assembled Kulim, Kedah

Specifications for Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Premium

  • Price: RM 211,888
  • Engine: 2.2-litre, Inline-four, turbodiesel
  • Power: 193 PS at 3,800 rpm
  • Torque: 440 Nm from 1,750 rpm to 2,750 rpm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, Four-wheel drive
  • Safety: Six airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, Downhill Brake Control (DBC), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Blind-spot Collision Warning (BCW), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA)
  • Origin: Locally-assembled Kulim, Kedah


Codenamed TM, the all-new fourth generation Santa Fe is larger than its predecessor in almost every aspect. The all-new Santa Fe is now 70 mm longer than before, coming in at 4,770 mm, while the wheelbase in 65 mm longer at 2,765 mm.

The all-new Hyundai Santa Fe is closely related to the third generation Kia Sorento, meaning that both models occupy a segment that is untapped by Japanese counterparts as both Koreans are physically larger (and thus pricier) than the Japanese.

But we will get into that a bit later into the review.


Hyundai is doing a swell job with unifying its SUV design language, as almost all Hyundai SUVs share a similar family face with a split headlight design flanking the now signature cascading front grille.

We reckon that the all-new Hyundai Santa Fe is the edgier twin to the Kia Sorento, as the former is visually more laid back. The Hyundai gets sharper edges which accentuates the SUV’s lines, unlike the more elegant lines on the Sorento.

If we were to nit-pick, we would say that the rear end of the all-new Santa Fe does not look as intimidating as the front. The rear end of the Santa Fe actually looks rather generic when compared to the Sorento, which actually has a nicer rear end. At least Premium variants of the Santa Fe get cool tail lights.

Similar to the Philippines-spec car that we reviewed earlier this year, petrol-powered variants of the Santa Fe get a single, angular muffler tip, while diesel-powered variants get a dual-outlet design.


We quite like the interior ambiance of the all-new Santa Fe – it blends good enough quality materials with a design that gives the cabin a pleasant ambiance.

Materials used in the all-new Hyundai Santa Fe, acceptable enough for the current price point, still feel a tad cheap when in comparison to what Mazda offers in the smaller CX-5, never mind the upcoming, pricier CX-8.

Despite that, we really enjoy the seats – they offer an incredible amount of comfort which made long distance driving less tiring.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity is also present, customers in either camp can use their preferred system on the all-new Santa Fe. While on the topic of the infotainment system, the standard speaker set-up in the Santa Fe offers decent sound quality.

Driving Experience

We started off in the petrol variant of the Santa Fe, which gets a 2.4-litre naturally-aspirated MPI petrol engine that does 172 PS and 225 Nm, connected to a six-speed automatic transmission.

On the road, the 2.4-litre petrol provided adequate grunt, though when you need to overtake, the Santa Fe does take quite a while to build up speed. The six-speed automatic also does a swell job of dropping gears smoothly when the need arises to overtake.

We also enjoyed the cabin quietness of the all-new Santa Fe, as tire and engine noises were well muted at highway speeds. Wind noises were also well insulated, meaning long distance highway drives won’t be tiresome for the passengers.

Apart from the petrol-powered Santa Fe, we also sampled the diesel-powered model.

Unlike the somewhat lethargic petrol-powered sibling, the diesel Santa Fe drives like a completely different vehicle altogether.

Thanks to its 2.2-litre CRDi turbodiesel powerplant that churns out 193 PS and 440 Nm, building up speed is effortless – the Santa Fe just accelerates like a bull out of a cage.

Aiding the powertrain to deploying all that power is Hyundai’s Active on-Demand 4WD (HTRAC) system, which is a diesel-exclusive feature.

In terms of ride comfort, the all-new Santa Fe is biased on the firmer side, but not to the extent of being uncomfortable. Granted, the Santa Fe does lean a bit when urged through the B-roads we subjected it to, but the Santa Fe took it all in stride. The factory-fitted Continental ContiSportContact 5 rubbers performed admirably, keeping tire noise low whilst maintaining the grip levels high.


With prices starting from the RM 170k mark, the all-new Hyundai Santa Fe occupies a segment in the market that is shared with its sister car, the Kia Sorento.

However, that will soon change as the upcoming Mazda CX-8 is set to challenge the Korean duo once it arrives here. The smaller Mazda CX-5 tops out at RM 178k, while the much larger CX-9 has a starting price of RM 287k, indicating that the upcoming CX-8 will be within that price gap.

What the Mazda CX-8 brings to the table is a much nicer interior with a generous dose premium materials, all wrapped up in an elegant-looking exterior. On top of all that, expect the Mazda CX-8 to offer more safety features (read: i-ActivSense) than the Hyundai Santa Fe.

For an SUV that retails around the RM 200k mark, having Blind-spot Collision Warning (BCW) and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA) just isn’t enough. Other SUVs within the price range offer equal, if not more advanced driver assistance features than the Santa Fe, making the model look rather poorly equipped.

As such, for potential buyers that are considering this model might want to re-evaluate the decision of picking the Santa Fe purely based on its design and foregoing these advanced driver assistance systems. 

Gallery: Review: All-New Hyundai Santa Fe – Good Looks, But..

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