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Hyundai Santa Fe vs. Kia Sorento

The first impression


Two good SUV’s pinned head-to-head. What is the real differentiator between the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Kia Sorento?

Did you know that Hyundai and Kia own one another? The details I’m not of fey with, but this is fact! As a result, these companies share parts and bodies like similar-aged siblings. If the makers of Kia and Hyundai were in the business of making pizzas, then I’d like you to imagine them making a really good pizza base and customising it with different topping. This is the concept used when creating both cars. The same base, but different toppings. Anyone for a Margareta or a Regina pizza?


The Hyundai Santa Fe is handsome, well-proportioned and modern, or as I fondly refer to it, as the Regina. The Kia Sorento is bold, square and athletic, again fondly referred to as the Margareta. Kia has cleverly sought out a youthful audience, sponsoring Danny K and Elana Afrika-Bredenk with the Sorento. And it’s working! The young upwardly mobile ‘hip and happening’ are getting into Sorento’s to cart their kids and imported French Bulldogs about. On the outside, Kia’s designers have created new headlamps with LED positioning lights, a new tailgate with LED rear combination lamps, new bumpers (front and rear) with vertical-axis fog lights and a larger area of body colour surface and an expanded choice of wheels for the refreshed Sorento.

When the Santa Fe Elite AWD model arrived for review, I had time to appreciate its design achievements, which is said to feature Hyundai’s “Fluidic Sculpture” design philosophy. The exterior of the Santa Fe evokes the impression of motion through the model’s unique “Storm Edge” styling, which captures the strong and dynamic images created by nature during the formation of a storm.


Using another analogy if I may, think of the Santa Fe and the Sorento as Angelina Jolie, far fetching I know, but bear with me. Dressed as ‘Mrs Smith’, the upmarket and modern secret-spy-mom that is the Santa Fe.  Or playing ‘Lara Craft’, a beautiful, intelligent and athletic English archaeologist-adventuress in tomb raider, is the Sorento. Both the same women, just made up differently. Because Kia and Hyundai belong to one another and they both share the same “base” this analogy questions the differences between the two SUV’s. They are essentially the same but different in the detail.

What they like to drive?

Driving the Santa Fe is an absolute pleasure. All three models (Premium, Executive and Elite) feature the same 2.2-Litre Turbo Diesel engine, which delivers  145kW at its peak power output at 3 800 r/min and loads of torque that reach its maximum of 436Nm when the engine runs between  1 800 and 2 500 r/min. This translates into effortless day-to-day driving through its smooth changing 6-speed automatic gearbox. The ride is sporty but supple. The steering is slightly anesthetised but no less than most other SUV’s. A nifty feature allows you to adjust the steering assistance with three modes: Sport (firm), Normal (moderate), and Comfort (Durban one-armed driving made easy).

(Santa Fe Interior)

Driving the Kia is a similar story, the Sorento has the same engine, gearbox and chassis, so the drive is almost the same. Like the Santa Fe, it too has an adjustable steering weight system called FlexSteer™. Both cars weigh close to two tons but for the size feel surprisingly spirited when accelerating, reaching 0 to 100 km/h in 10 seconds. The Sorento has two variants in the lineup: A 5-seater front-wheel drive and a 7-seater all-wheel-drive model. Both better priced than the Santa Fe.


Fuel consumption figures are claimed to be 8 litres/100km for the entry level front-wheel drive models and 8.3 litres/100km for the all-wheel-drive 7-seater derivatives. These figures are claimed and in both the Kia and Santa Fe achieved figures in the mid 10 litres/100km.


The interior of the two cars is where you notice the difference. The Kia is simple with an American functionality to its makeup. The Hyundai on the other hand feels and looks premium. The dash is sculptural but lets the rest of the high quality cabin down a tab. The precision and high quality feel of the cabin gives it a Germanic vibe to its makeup.

(Sorento Interior)


Warranty and service plan

The Santa Fe also boasts Hyundai’s 5-year/150 000km manufacturer’s warranty, plus a 5-year/150 000km roadside assistance and a 5-year/90 000km service contract. Service intervals are 15 000km.


The Sorento has a 5-year/150 000km warranty, plus a 5-year/100 000km maintenance plan and a 3-year/unlimited km roadside assistance.



The prices of the Hyundai Santa Fe range are:

Santa Fe R2.2 Premium FWD 5-seater - R444 900

Santa Fe R2.2 Executive AWD 7-seater - R477 900

Santa Fe R2.2 Elite AWD 7-seater - R519 900


The prices of the Kia Sorento range are:

Kia Sorento 2.2 4x2 FWD 5-seater - R 407 995

Kia Sorento 2.2 4x4 7-seater - R 489 995


The verdict

I preferred Angelina in Mr and Mrs Smith. And truth be told, I am happy to fork out the extra money for the mushroom toppings on my Regina Pizza. I’m a stickler for premium quality so my green back would be on the Santa Fe Executive.


If you’re a budget conscious person, and have no really need for 7-seats, then the Kia Sorento 4x2 FWD 5-seater is for you.


Hyundai Santa Fe Weblink


Kia Sorento Weblink

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