The battle of premium 4x4s
The old-school SUVs were large and bulky, however the trend is now changing to light and a lot more fuel-efficient ones. The modern ones drive like a car and feel compact. The same battle continues with the Fortuner and the Santa Fe, both cost in excess of Rs 30 lakhs, are automatics and have 4×4 options. We pit the newly introduced Fortuner 3.0 4×4 AT against the Santa Fe 4×4 AT and suggest you, which is the one to buy.
The Toyota Fortuner is the old school one. Large, muscular, bulky and based on ladder on frame chassis, which makes it heavy. The Fortuner is wide and it does have presence with its large chrome front grille and rectangular headlamps, while the Santa Fe has a fluidic design with hawk-like headlamps and a sleek chrome front grille. The silhouette of the Santa Fe does flow like a Fluidic design, while the Fortuner looks rugged with its new matte grey alloy wheels. This is a choice between sleek and rugged styling. The Fortuner now has smoked out headlamps and tail lamps. The air scoop on the hood adds to its muscular look. The liking towards exterior design of any is subjective, however our pick is the Fortuner.
The interiors are a completely different story, as the Santa Fe does look a lot premium and well-flowing, but too many buttons and controls could make things confusing. The interiors of the Santa Fe are dual tone and this is the first Hyundai in India to get a touchscreen system. We wish that the screen size was a bit larger. The Fortuner on the other hand has simple and limited buttons and knobs. This makes the Toyota more functional than the Santa Fe, despite the fact that both offer similar features. The look and feel of materials is better on the Santa Fe, but the Fortuner isn’t something you can easily get bored off.
The space is good in both, however the Fortuner’s seating is more commanding and comfortable. The rear seats of the Santa Fe offer more thigh support but with the third row up, there is hardly any space in the Santa Fe. The Fortuner wins hands down in space over the Santa Fe.
The Fortuner’s design is old school and so is its engine. The 3.0-litre engine produces 168bhp and comes mated to a five-speed autobox while the Hyundai’s 2.2-litre diesel engine produces about 190bhp of power and gets a six-speed self-shifting transmission. The Korean oil burner is definitely more powerful and reached triple digit figures easier, while the Fortuner feels heavier and takes its own time to move. The Santa Fe has better outright performance. But the acceleration of the Fortuner is linear and even cruising is a breeze in this SUV.
The Santa Fe feels more car-like with its light steering wheel and the ease of driving. One can make the steering wheel heavier on the Santa Fe with an option, however we won’t recommend this. The Fortuner gives the SUV feel but it is still easy to manoeuvre even in tight lanes. The steering wheel of the Fortuner is heavier at low speeds and this makes it a tad difficult to drive in city and on the highway. The Santa Fe is sharper and quicker off its feet and in response as well. The driving dynamics of the Santa Fe is better for sure and even the fuel efficiency. Though the efficiency isn’t a major concern for these segment buyers.
The Fortuner has been built on the Hilux platform and this is a highly capable off-roader. The Santa Fe is more of a soft-roader with lower ground clearance and now of a family touring vehicle. The Fortuner is surely more adventurous when it coming to dirtying its boots. There is also a low-gear ratio too.
Everything boils down to one aspect, price. The Fortuner despite the Toyota badge, service and resale is priced at Rs 32 lakhs (on-road), while the Santa Fe costs Rs 4-5 lakhs more. So, the clear choice is the Fortuner as it gives you all the bells and whistles, better hardware and at the same time it has a better resale and brand value.