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Hyundai Santa Fe vs Kia Sorento

Hyundai Santa Fe vs Kia Sorento

These two SUVs from sister brands have much in common but feel very different. Joshua Dowling sweats the details.

value

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite diesel

from $48,490

The Elite is the middle of the Santa Fe range and comes with leather seats, navigation, sensor key with push button start, automatic tailgate, and a chilled glovebox. Servicing cost over three years is $1137, about $200 cheaper than the Kia. The service intervals are 12 months or 15,000km. Note: the four-year/60,000km service jumps to $499.

Kia Sorento SLi diesel

from $49,490

The SLi is $1000 more than the Hyundai. That buys an extra two years of factory warranty (seven vs five) and extra equipment. But Kia hides its capped price servicing costs (you must enter a vehicle ID online, which makes it hard to compare before you buy). And it’s dearer to maintain despite having the same engine ($1330 over three years). The fourth year/60,000km service jumps to $661.

technology

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite diesel

Engine

The 2.2-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder has been around since the previous generation Santa Fe but is still a good operator. It delivers decent power (145kW/436Nm) and good economy (7.3L/100km combined). Against this company, however, it’s a little noisy.

Kia Sorento SLi diesel

Engine

Kia has found a fraction more power and torque from the same 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine (147kW/441Nm), but it also uses more fuel (7.8L/100km), likely due to the Sorento’s heavier body. At least it sounds muted compared to the Hyundai.

design

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite diesel

The Santa Fe was designed by Hyundai's US styling studios and still looks fresh after three years on sale. It has one of the most upmarket interiors in the Hyundai range, with good quality switches and dials. There's plenty of oddment storage and a decent sized cargo area (516L front two rows of seats up, 1615L back two rows of seats down). The only thing missing: a digital speed display.

Kia Sorento SLi diesel

Based on the same underpinnings as the Kia Carnival people mover. The quality of the materials is a step above the Hyundai (including backlit controls and the digital speedo display) The Sorento also has more cargo room than the Hyundai (605L front two rows of seats up, 1662L back two rows of seats down).

safety

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite diesel

Six airbags and a five-star safety rating. A rear-view camera and sensors are standard fare. It also has good road holding for a seven-seat SUV.

Kia Sorento SLi diesel

Six airbags and a rear view camera are standard. Scored a five-star rating from Euro NCAP but the test vehicle was left-hand-drive and there can be engineering differences with right-hand drive cars.

driving

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite diesel

The Santa Fe feels secure on the road and the suspension copes well with bumps and thumps. It has nicely weighted steering and the turning circle is surprisingly tight (10.9 metres). Towing capacity is limited to 2000kg, but the down weight on the tow ball is only 100kg, which towing experts say, in effect, limits the towing capacity to 1000kg, as the down weight on the ball is supposed to be 10 per cent of the load.

Kia Sorento SLi diesel

It's not the class leader but the Sorento drives OK for a family SUV. I prefer the slightly more taut feeling of the Santa Fe Elite because, around town, the Sorento can feel cumbersome as it shifts its weight in corners, and the rear suspension can make a loud thump if you hit a sharp bump. As with the Hyundai, the Kia's towing capacity is limited to 2000kg, but the down weight on the tow ball is only 100kg.

Verdict

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite diesel

Kia Sorento SLi diesel

A tough call. If both vehicles were full price, the Kia Sorento would be the better buy due to its extra equipment and longer factory warranty. But a discounted Santa Fe may be enough to sway your decision.