As an automotive enthusiast, I love cars that are fast and fun, so automatically, SUV was never in my radar to even think about purchasing. Since this year, we’re fortunate enough to get our hands on a few SUVs for review.  If you ask me what’s my favorite SUV of 2019? I would gladly put the Hyundai Santa Fe at the top of my list. Let’s find out why?

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The Hyundai Santa Fe is a very handsome looking SUV that blends in rugged look with a modern twist. Hyundai did a bold move by splitting out the daytime running light away from the main LED headlights. This is so that the headlight would be mounted slightly lower to prevent the headlights glaring on to oncoming cars, while still having the daytime running lights tall enough to tell other road users that this is a tall SUV.

Moving to the back, the LED taillights have some 3D design built into it to make the taillights look modern and stylish without it being too complicated. Finally, the Santa Fe comes equipped with a set of 235/55 R19 wheels and tyres that blends in with the rugged look of the Santa Fe.

Inside the Santa Fe, the wrap around dashboard gives the SUV an upmarket feel. There are plenty of soft touch materials being used around the dashboard of the Santa Fe. Even with all the soft touch materials around, there are still some hard plastics that are located at places where you don’t really touch.

The thing that really tickles my fancy inside the Santa Fe is that it has one of the smoothest and softest roof liners among the cars that we’ve ever tested thus far. The Santa Fe that was provided for us is the premium spec, which comes with the 7” Supervision TFT LCD display that will change its colour base on the driving mode of the vehicle. The instrument cluster is fairly basic and easy to read.

At the center of the dashboard, there is a similarly sized infotainment system that comes equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Hyundai’s infotainment is still one of the most simple infotainment to setup in the industry. While there is no premium audio fitted in local spec Santa Fe, the audio quality is still fairly decent.

The seat inside the Santa Fe is one of the most comfortable driver seats that I’ve sat in apart from the Mercedes C43 AMG. I felt like the Santa Fe’s seat was design to suit people with bigger body size.  The seats felt supportive and well sculpted, and you won’t feel tired after long hours of driving. Another interesting fact about the front passenger seat is that there are seat adjustments at the side of the seat to allow the chair to be adjusted by the rear passengers.

Getting comfortable at the 2nd row is fairly easy; there are plenty of adjustment like sliding fore and aft, and reclining. If you fit 3 persons together at the 2nd row, the shoulder room is decent. The 2nd row can be folded down fully flat to expand the boot space from the 547L with the 3rd row seats folded down to 1,625L. The 3rd row seats is a little tight for adults to seat in over long distance, but its comfortable for kids to seat in. The down side of the 3rd row seat is that it didn’t have any air-cond vents to keep the rear passenger cool.

Safety equipment in the Santa Fe is sufficient, but not excessive. There are 6 airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Downhill Brake Control (DBC), Brake Assist System (BAS), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Traction Control System (TCS), Rear Occupant Alert (ROA), Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW), and Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW).

The Santa Fe that we tested was fitted with a 2.4L petrol 4 banger that produces 172PS at 6,000rpm and 225Nm of torque at 4,000rpm, and mated to a 6 speed automatic transmission. The 2.4L engine might not be the most powerful engine in the lineup, but it produces enough push to help the SUV to waft along. The 6 speed automatic transmission is a fairly smooth and reliable transmission that works well with the engine.

The best part about driving the Santa Fe is that it has a very well tuned suspension. The front McPherson strut and rear multilink absorbs all the road imperfection with ease, making the Santa Fe felt like a continental SUV. The suspension is soft enough to absorb bumps, but still manage to keep the body roll in such a tall SUV in check when you’re chucking the SUV around the bends.

Electrical power steering gives you plenty of confident in taking corners. The steering is light during low speeds, but once the speed picks up, the steering will be weighted up to give you the confidence to control the car at speed. Bringing the Santa Fe to a stop is easy, as the 4 wheel disc brake is plenty powerful for such a heavy SUV. The NVH level inside the Santa Fe is high, as the Santa Fe literally isolates you from the outside world.

With this being one of my favourite SUV of 2019, would I buy one? I would say no because at the back of my mind, I know there is a diesel version that delivers more power. Even though this is the lesser power of the 2, this is still plenty impressive in itself. To make the Santa Fe more appealing, I would like to see more advance safety system and 3rd row AC to make this otherwise appealing SUV even more appealing.

Priced at RM 189,888 road tax and insurance, it’s not cheap by any means, but it’s a pretty impressive SUV. With the price, you do get free 5 years or 300,000km warranty coverage whichever comes 1st. on top of that, there are free 24 hours breakdown service that will assist on accidents, breakdown, parts malfunction and flat tyres. You can get the Santa Fe in 5 different colours, namely White Cream, Typhoon Silver, Rain Forest, Earthy Bronze, and Stormy Sea.