We compare the most popular SUV – Toyota Fortuner – to the new kid on the block, the Hyundai Santa Fe

There has been a spate of SUV launches in India of late. Here we take a look at the current leader of the premium SUV segment – the Toyota Fortuner, and see how it stacks up against Hyundai’s latest offering – the Santa Fe. Both are comparably priced at around the Rs. 20-lakh mark. One — Fortuner — enjoys tremendous pedigree due to Toyota badge. The other — Santa Fe — must make the case that Hyundai can do more than just churn out funky little cars. This should be a good fight! Read on . . .

Design

toyota fortuner pic

Pic: Toyota Fortuner SUV

It took Toyota a good deal of time to let the Toyota Fortuner stamp its huge footprints in the Indian auto market, but when it did, it created ripples in the SUV market.

The looks are an absolute delight. This, in our eyes, is what a true SUV should look and feel like. The Toyota Fortuner commands enormous street presence, what with those high-up headlights right next to the grille, flared wheel arches, ladder frame chassis and buffed up panels at just the right places. It’s an intimidating sight when you look at it from your rear view mirror. Its looks alone make it a winner. Also read: SUV models in India

Compared to the Hyundai Santa Fe, it does look slightly dated, but the Santa Fe’s design is more generic than that of the Toyota, as it should be, because the Fortuner has inherited its beefy genes from SUVs like the iconic Land Cruiser. While the Santa Fe has modern European looks and curves, the Fortuner has to make do with design cues of classical SUVs.

The Hyundai Santa Fe has a subtle style with European design cues that cleverly hide its huge size. The Korean maker’s new age signature grille design is worn by the Santa Fe with body colored horizontal bars. This SUV stands on 18 inch alloy wheels (standard). The projector headlamps are eye-catching. The LED turn indicators are mounted on the outside rear view mirror. The Santa Fe comes with roof rails. The side profile has boat shaped curves running from the A pillar all through the D pillar.

Engine

hyundai santa fe comparison

Pic: Hyundai Santa Fe

The Toyota’s big 3-litre turbo charged engine, producing 170 bhp is adequately powerful and the interior is plush and familiar – as a lot of the parts have been borrowed from the Toyota Innova. The Toyota Fortuner obviously sits higher than the Innova and also has four-wheel drive to take it beyond the tarmac. Read about Toyota cars in India

The Hyundai Santa Fe is powered by a comparatively more modern 2199 cc four cylinder 16 valve, DOHC, CRDi engine that churns out a rather healthy 197 bhp at 4000 rpm of maximum power and 420 Nm at 1800-2500 rpm of maximum torque. The engine has been provided with Piezo injection control for precise fuel injection control and hence returns a respectable mileage of 14.66 kmpl. The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission with shift indicator. The Santa Fe offers better acceleration and improved in-gear response time, thanks to Hyundai’s electronically controlled Variable Geometry Turbo mechanism. Also read: Skoda Yeti road test

Interiors

toyota fortuner interiors photo

Photo: Toyota Fortuner Interiors

The interior of the Toyota Fortuner is attractive with a dual tone beige dashboard that is packed with an advanced instrument cluster and beige upholstery. The Fortuner offers stylish, spacious and comfortable passenger room with generous headroom, leg space and excellent front visibility. The interiors of Toyota Fortuner are designed to meet all the needs of passengers by providing a variety of convenient, multi-purpose storage places. The downside? It is a bit like the Innova inside.

Passenger safety features include SRS airbags and anti-lock brakes. It also comes equipped with a premium stereo, rear AC vents and sensors all around to help you with parking.

hyundai santa fe interior photo

Photo: Hyundai Santa Fe Interior

The Santa Fe has a full-featured cabin with prominent wood inserts on the dashboard. The grey-beige interiors and uniform panel gaps boast Hyundai’s “world class quality.” The blue LED illuminated central console is driver oriented, revealing all you need to know about the car in a quick glance. The 6 CD changer MP3 player with USB, AUX in and iPod connectivity along with a 6 speaker system with amplifiers, woofer and tweeters will keep you entertained throughout the journey. The central control armrest also gets a cool box. However, it lacks the navigation system that is offered in lower priced models like the Tata Aria.

Ride

Hyundai’s latest offers a smooth ride with none of the clatter expected from a diesel engine. Body roll is present but is at acceptable standards for a vehicle of its size and height. Going about a roundabout doesn’t throw you out of your seat, though you do have to hold on to the door handle. Compared to the Toyota Fortuner, the suspension of the Santa Fe is tuned more for the city streets than the rugged outdoors, so it is adequately soft and rides the bumps with aplomb.

It is a different story with the Fortuner however. The ride is decent enough in a straight line and there is a certain ruggedness about the vehicle. Big SUVs like this, which are built on a beefy chassis and suspended by stiff springs and dampers, can be extremely bumpy. However, since the Fortuner shares its suspension bits with the Innova there’s little to worry about. The Toyota comes with solid double wishbones and coil springs at the front with a four-link, coil-spring set-up at the rear. And it all works well. Despite being stiffly sprung, the Fortuner is comfortable to ride around in.

Body roll is inevitable for such a tall SUV but it isn’t worrisome even when pushed hard. However, the Fortuner isn’t quite like the Santa Fe when it comes to handling. The Santa Fe, built on a monocoque, feels car-like to drive in comparison to the Fortuner, which rides on a ladder-frame chassis, still feels like an SUV but quite under control.

Price and features comparison

Both the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Toyota Fortuner are comparably priced. The Santa Fe costs between Rs.20,95,000 and Rs. 22,95,000. The Toyota is just a little bit cheaper at Rs. 19,64,320 – Rs. 20,45,320.

The equipment list on both these SUVs is substantial. The Santa Fe comes with ABS, EBD, parking sensors, front and rear fog lamps, electric ORVMs, 6 airbags, xenon lamps, HVAC with climate control, power windows, cruise control, adjustable seats and steering, central locking with keyless entry, multi-CD changer with iPod dock, steering mounted audio controls and rain-sensing wipers.

The top-end Toyota Fortuner gets ABS, EBD, front and rear fog lamps, electric ORVMs, 2 airbags, HVAC with climate control, power windows, electronic power steering, , adjustable seats and steering, central locking with keyless entry, multi-CD changer, rear AC vents and rain-sensing wipers.

Overall a very good equipment list is found in both the cars, though the Hyundai does edge up as it gets cruise control and six airbags as standard, while the Fortuner has to do with two airbags.

In the end, if you want a rugged, macho SUV that can dish out the dirt in a offroad setting or cruise the highways in top gear all day, go for the Toyota Fortuner. If modern, contemporary design and utilities is what you prefer, with soft-roader like nimble handling and city-slick looks, go for the Hyundai Santa Fe. Happy choosing!