It took a fairly swift 6 model years before this 4th generation Hyundai Santa Fe was released, and thankfully, despite the tremendous cosmetic and equipment changes, the outgoing model has nothing to be ashamed of as it remains a very compelling and versatile vehicle with strong abilities. The outgoing Santa Fe was truly a very exceptional crossover that was only kept in check mostly because of its acquisition cost.
The all-new model uses a slightly longer, by roughly 2.6 inches, standard wheelbase which is actually still a little shorter than its current 3rd generation Kia Sorento brother but it feels tangibly more spacious with even better NVH and updated interior. Except for the short-lived 1st generation model, the Santa Fe has only gotten better at every evolutionary stage. The 3rd generation long-wheelbase Santa Fe will supposedly continue well into the 2019 model year and renamed the XL before it gets similar attention from Hyundai.
For the ASEAN regional launch of the Hyundai Santa Fe, the highly successful multi-award-winning official Philippine distributor, Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI) in cooperation with the Hyundai Motor Company Regional Headquarters (HMC RHQ), hosted at the SUBIC Freeport, journalists from Cambodia, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore and the Philippines in an event that they called the “Sea to Summit Conquest” from September 3 to 5, 2018.
Through a modest 146-kilometer route around Bataan and Subic, we experienced essentially two variants: The model that will be sold in the Philippines is the purely front-wheel driven GLS that features the potent and efficient carried over 2.2-liter CRDi VGT Turbodiesel that produces close to 200 horsepower and more importantly 325 lb.-ft of torque but now mated to the new 8-speed automatic transmission for even better overall dynamic performance and refinement. For the other territories, the direct injection 185 bhp / 175 lb.-ft HTRAC AWD 2.4-liter GDI gasoline variant also mated to the new 8-speed gearbox among the twenty (20) test units.
I drove both and I was left still completely convinced that the turbodiesel variant is the superior powerplant that is best suited for our Philippine driving conditions. The updated 2.4-liter gasoline engine now finally has the better performing direct injection system but it isn’t enough for our domestic requirements and feels even more burdened with the extra weight from the AWD system. Even with the newfound power, the gasoline variant feels anemic and required more deliberate spirited driving just to sustain the consistent pace effortlessly accomplished by the GLS turbodiesel.
Joining us in this very interestingly themed media event highlighting Philippine history was Mr. Yong Suk Lee, director of Hyundai Motor Company Regional Headquarters; Renato G. Pizarro, senior vice president for Strategy & Innovation; Sivitha Nakulan and Sylaja Shanmugam from Hyundai Malaysia; Deug Yong Cha from Hyundai South Korea; the hard-working HARI team led by Luigi Ignacio and Melanie Fernandez; and of course the grand dame herself, Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo, president and CEO of HARI.
We convoyed from our hotel, Segara Villas, in Subic to the historic mountain of Mt. Samat where the national shrine Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor) commemorating the valor of the fallen Filipino and American soldiers of the Pacific campaign of World War II who suffered through the Bataan Death March. A particularly special place for me too as a couple of my maternal Carrion grand uncles did not live through the ordeal.
After we paid our respects, we headed out to another famous Bataan landmark, in the town of Bagac: the famous Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar where we would also dine and compete in a photography contest. I took the time to tour my Singaporean colleagues, Edric Pan of The Straits Times and Charissa He of Hyundai Singapore, around the 14-hectare open-air museum that has a collection of fully-restored vintage homes, canals, trolleys, a very grand ballroom, bridges, multiple food outlets, gardens, pools, and even large macabre folklore statues, among so many features that are still under construction, many of which were also used as movie sets recently.
Our last scenic stop before heading back to Subic to end the festivities at the fabulous Lighthouse Marina Hotel for dinner, socials, fellowship, and contest awarding, was Napot Point, home of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant which has become a 3.57-kilometer reservation that remains complete yet tragically inactive.
We would certainly need more intimate time to thoroughly review the new Hyundai Santa Fe, but what we can tell you thus far is that our domestic model that will be sold throughout the archipelago comes with 19” x 7.5” alloys wrapped with 235/55R19 road-biased tires, a very new nicely designed cabin with a multitude of fine natural materials, a crisp head-up display (HUD), dual-zone climate control, a 6-speaker 7-inch touchscreen infotainment audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition for Android Auto and Apple Carplay, very comfortable leather seats with a reclinable second row, standard cruise control, dual angular exhaust on the right rear, completely new sheet metal with a prominent new front grille and unique split-lighting with dynamic bending, Qi wireless charger, rain-sensing wipers, power tailgate, 6 SRS airbags, stability control, front and rear proximity sensors, a 360-degree camera, and so much more. I genuinely like the updated organic styling inside and out that also features better aerodynamics, much better NVH, and excellent full LED lighting all around.
As it stands, the new Hyundai Santa Fe is a very desirable and versatile crossover with a very long list of standard equipment. It is better in every way than its predecessor.
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS
Engine: Inline-4, 2199cc, dohc 16V, CRDi E-VGT Turbodiesel, Sportmatic 8-speed AT
Max power: 197 bhp @ 3800 rpm
Max torque: 325 lb ft @ 1750-2750 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 9.1 sec.
Top Speed: 198 km/h (124 mph) Governed
Fuel Mileage: 16.3 km/L Overall
Price on delivery: PhP 2,338,000.00
C! RATING 9.5/10
(+) Elegant, still the most powerful engine in its class, quite spacious, heavily updated in all fronts, spritely yet still efficient, very full featured
(-) Missing some key equipment found in other territories, pricey
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe GDI AWD
Engine: Inline-4, 2359cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection, D-CVVT, Sportmatic 8-speed AT
Max power: 185 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max torque: 178 lb ft @ 4000 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 10.2 sec.
Top Speed: 190 km/h (119 mph) Governed
Fuel Mileage: 10.6 km/L Overall
C! RATING 9/10
(+) All-weather confidence, peppier now, smooth, full-featured
(-) The more fuel efficient and more dynamic turbodiesel is the engine to have