2017 Hyundai Santa Fe vs 2016 VW Tiguan vs Gold Mine Hill Off-Road Review [Video]

Automotive engineers work hard to make their cars, trucks, and crossovers as capable as possible. True, some compromises are left on the drawing board in the interest of producing an affordable car but that doesn’t mean safety and functionality take a back seat. In this off-road review, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and 2016 VW Tiguan show their all-wheel drive capability and true off-road prowess when tackling the tricky ascent of Gold Mine Hill in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe has been refreshed with styling upgrades, enhanced standard and optional features, and new Drive Mode Select with Eco/Normal/Sport settings.

Exterior changes to the 3-row Santa Fe are most evident on the front and rear fascias. A revised grille with a brush-look insert and new headlamps add more distinction up front and are balanced by a tidier rear bumper design set off with new taillamps and a twin-paired dual exhaust. New available LED DRLs and LED foglamps finish off the front end.

Inside the cabin, the Santa Fe gets a redesigned center stack to accommodate a new 7.0-inch touchscreen and incorporates Android Auto phone integration.

The standard configuration is a 290 horsepower 3.3-liter V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is the norm but all-wheel drive is available for a $1750 upcharge. Dividing the power is Hyundai’s all-wheel drive system with Torque Vectoring Cornering Control (TVCC), which distributes torque as needed to an individual wheel to improve handling and traction.

The VW Tiguan is a competent traveler in the compact crossover segment. The German SUV comes with a 200 horsepower 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged 4-cylinder and 6-speed automatic that sends power to the front wheels. The available 4MOTION all-wheel drive system provides added traction and all-weather capability. The 4MOTION system adds $1,975 to the sticker price.

Tiguan’s 4MOTION system is essentially an electro-hydraulic system that divides power between the front and rear wheels using a Haldex center differential. Under normal driving conditions, 90 percent of the power is sent to the front wheels. Power is continuously varied between the front and rear wheels depending upon the traction and detected wheel slip. In some cases, 100 percent of the power can be transferred to the rear wheels.

  2016 Volkswagen Tiguan 4MOTION 2017 Hyundai Sant Fe AWD
Engine 2.0L turbocharged I-4 3.3L V6
Power 200 hp @ 5,100 rpm 290 hp @ 6,400 rpm
Torque 207 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm 252 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic 6-speed automatic
Curb Weight 3,951 lbs 4,169 lbs
EPA-estimated fuel economy 20 / 26 mpg (city/hwy) 18 / 24 mpg (city/hwy)