Van vs SUV: Hyundai Starex or Hyundai Santa Fe?

When practicality meets versatility
by Botchi Santos | Jan 20, 2010

Hi, Botchi!

My father wants to buy a Hyundai Santa Fe and he looks forward to its new model. But he is also considering the ten-seater Hyundai Grand Starex with manual transmission.

What's the best choice for family use? We own a first-generation Starex and a Mazda 323 GLI but my father also likes SUVs nowadays. He thinks it's a more practical choice compared with sedans. What do you think?


Hi, Boggs!

Your situation is tough since it's not an apples-to-apples comparison.

I like the Hyundai Starex a lot for the space, utility and versatility it gives; not to mention the powerful 2.5-liter CRDi engine with variable turbine geometry technology. It drives very close to a sedan--very smooth, comfortable and reliable, too. It also now possesses its own street credibility and road presence, thanks to its reliability and the value-for-money proposition it represents. This is my top pick among all the vans sold in the Philippines. How you could ever want more from a van is beyond me.

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But I also understand that need for added ground clearance you'll find in an SUV, especially after the crazy typhoons and flooding we got last year. The Hyundai Santa Fe is an equally smooth-riding SUV and--much like the Starex--has a very reputable dependable reputation. The 2.2-liter CRDi engine gives no quarters to its more powerful competitors from Toyota and Mitsubishi. It is far smoother than both the Toyota Fortuner and Mitsubishi Montero Sport, and feels more car-like than the two--whether you're in it as a passenger or as the driver. Just don't get the gasoline engine. The technology is in the diesels.

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I especially like the super classy interior of the Hyundai Santa Fe that's very Euro-inspired. The perforated black leather seats with red piping and wood accents that look like real wood instead of plastic--very classy indeed.

The Santa Fe seats seven people with lots of room to spare. Do you really need the extra three-person capacity afforded by the Starex? The Hyundai Santa Fe will also be easier to drive around because it is shorter than the Hyundai Starex. The added ride height gives you greater mobility and versatility when road and driving conditions worsen.

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There are talks about a new Santa Fe entering the local market soon but there's no definitive news yet on that matter. If I were to wager a guess, expect a new model between the second and third quarter of 2010.

Good luck on your choice. I hope it pans out well on your end!

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor

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