The e-mails that Botchi regularly replies to are great! I think they really give readers a more personal and genuine perspective on the cars available today.
Anyway, I am looking into the Montero Sport VGT, the Sorento CRDi and the Santa Fe CRDi. I was wondering which would the better car be in terms of handling, safety and comfort? I am aware the Sorento and the Santa Fe are very similar so I would like to know what sets them apart aside from the design. At the end of it all, which one would be the best bang for my buck?
I do not need a 4WD, and I will most probably not have to drive in off-road conditions. I drive to Subic or Tagaytay once or twice a month and go around Manila the rest of the time. I just need a comfortable and safe car.
I hope TopGear.com.ph can help me out! You guys are awesome! Keep it up!
Thank you for the kind words! We all try our best to give helpful advice so it's a big team effort whenever we post new replies on our website!
If comfort is what you are after, then the Kia Sorento or the Hyundai Santa Fe are your two best options, especially if you have no need for 4WD and off-road capability. These two car-based crossovers are built like a conventional car, utilizing a unibody construction unlike truck-based SUVs (such as the Mitsubishi Montero Sport) that have a box cabin atop the ladder frame chassis. The unibody design is stiffer, offering better refinement, interior space, comfort and responsiveness as well as better feel, particularly the brakes, suspension and steering because the entire structure moves together more closely, unlike a ladder-frame equipped chassis which tends to flex, twist and bend a little bit more than that of a unibody chassis. That's because the ladder-frame isn't as stiff, but is the preferred off-road chassis because it is inherently stronger and sturdier, and that little flex of the chassis helps it cope better with very rough terrain.
While the Kia and the Hyundai share a lot of similarities (basic architecture, powertrain, etc.), what really sets the two apart is, in my opinion, the feel of the design as well as how it is like to drive. The Kia feels more like an American-flavored SUV but with diesel power. The Hyundai feels a little bit closer to a European car: It's firmer and less bouncy but offers a little more feel in exchange for a little bit of comfort. The Kia feels like driving a typical American 'ute: easy, light and effortless but a bit lacking in feel and feedback, better suited to highway miles. On the other hand, the Hyundai seems a bit more playful when the road gets twisty.
Personally, I prefer the Santa Fe because of its driving feel and experience, but I can't objectively say it is better, as the interior of the Sorento is more modern and is a more pleasant place to be in as a passenger--or even as a driver while stuck in traffic.
But regardless of what you get, you'll be pretty happy with either Korean SUV. Good luck on your two choices! God bless and take care!