2019 Hyundai Santa Fe: Off-road in Kenaboi Forest Reserve

By RIZAL JOHAN | 3 September 2019

At first glance, the latest fourth generation Santa Fe SUV is geared for families as it features third row seats, a spacious and comfortable interior and a long list of safety equipment that will tick all the right boxes (there’s even a ‘Check your rear seats’ message before you alight the vehicle just to remind you not to leave your child or children behind).

While that aspect of the Santa Fe is immediately apparent, what is not is the capability of the car in terms of handling and off-roading.

Members of the media found out just how capable the new Santa Fe is during a recent drive up to Kenaboi Forest Reserve where off-roading activities were prepared for us.

On the way up there, we also managed to test the car’s handling as we passed through very windy mountain roads.


For this drive, organized by marque’s Malaysian distributor Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors, the Santa Fe 2.4 MPi 2WD petrol and 2.2 CRDi AWD diesel Premium variants were used (priced RM189,888 and RM211,888 respectively, on-the-road without insurance).

Both the Santa Fe petrol and diesel SUVs are also available in the entry-level Executive variants.

The two-wheel drive petrol-engined Santa Fe consists of a 2.4 litre Theta II MPi naturally-aspirated engine which delivers 172PS at 6,000rpm and 225Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. It is mated with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Meanwhile, the R 2.2 litre CRDi turbodiesel has 193PS at 3,800rpm and a hefty 440Nm from as low as 1,750rpm to 2,750rpm.

This engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and has Hyundai’s HTRAC variable all-wheel drive system which delivers 35% to 50% of power to the rear-wheels.


The R 2.2 CRDi

We made our way up to the forest reserve in the turbodiesel Santa Fe and was already impressed with how much power this car has.

Since it has 440Nm of torque from as low as 1,750rpm, it didn’t take much to get this SUV going. Its interior is plush what with its soft-touch material and leather upholstery.

Also, its new centre dash design with the free-standing 7-inch LCD display, climate controls, charging port and USB jacks is well laid out.

The interior had very low levels of NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) and provided a high level of comfort for the drive.

Of course, the clatter of the diesel engine was noticeable at low rpms but once the car gets going, the engine becomes quieter and smoother.

From the highway, we turned into Semenyih and made the climb up to our destination and for about 50km or so we were faced with very windy roads which afforded us the opportunity to see how the car handles.


The diesel-powered Santa Fe was a joy to drive on these roads and although it is a big and tall car, it was gripy around turns and corners.

As it has all-wheel drive and setting the drive mode to Sport, will direct 50% of power to the rear wheels which would account for its stability and good road handling.

From tarred road we ended up on dirt roads as we made our way into the forest reserve and here is where we went through muddy trails and streams without any fuss.

We were also treated to the 4 wheel-drive system and experienced first hand how the car reacts going through obstacles and steep inclines.

Here, when a wheel is spinning without moving the vehicle, the system would direct power to the other wheels and get you off and running again.

So we can say that if you do want to try some soft off-roading with the Santa Fe it is capable of doing so.


The Theta II 2.4 MPi

We had our turn with the petrol engine Santa Fe after lunch and was surprised to learn that we were using this front wheel drive SUV for some off-roading too.

Although we didn’t go through demanding terrain, we did cross streams and went down steep downhill slopes as well as uphill.

This Santa Fe is equipped with Hill-start Assist Control and Downhill Brake Control which greatly assists the driver as the former will not let the car roll downhill while the latter makes it easy for the driver to just steer as the car does all the braking when going downhill.

Then it was back to the windy roads and the highway as we made our way home.

The petrol engine SUV is quieter than its diesel counterpart though not as powerful but its handling is still impressive without the all wheel drive system.

And on the highway, the car is smooth and has enough power that it never feels sluggish although it doesn’t have the heft of the diesel variant at low rpms.

In the end, the all-new Santa Fe left a very good impression on us and we feel that it is an all-round seven-seater SUV with attractive features and safety equipment to suit your daily needs whether in the city or out in the wild.

Hyundai Santa Fe R 2.2 CRDi Premium
Engine: 2,199cc R CRDi turbodiesel
Maximum power: 193PS at 3,800rpm
Maximum torque: 440Nm from 1,750rpm to 2,750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic and HTRAC variable all-wheel drive system
Price: RM211,888 (on-the-road without insurance)

Hyundai Santa Fe 2.4 MPi Premium
Engine: 2,359cc naturally aspirated petrol engine
Maximum power: 172PS at 6,000rpm
Maximum torque: 225Nm at 4,000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Price: RM189,888 (on-the-road without insurance)
Features: Keyless entry, push-button start, cruise control, dual-zone climate control with ioniser, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, black leather upholstery, a freestanding seven-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and a reverse camera, adaptive LED headlights, LED tail lights, LED fog lights, 19-inch alloys, leather dashboard trim, an eight-way powered passenger seat, a seven-inch instrument display, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and a powered tailgate
Safety features: Six airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, vehicle stability management, hill-start assist control, downhill brake control and ISOFIX second-row child seat anchors, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert and Rear Occupant Alert