Ask TFL: I Need A More Practical All-Wheel Drive Car! What Should I Buy?

Hyundai Santa Fe or Subaru Forester?

Ask TFL: I Need A More Practical All-Wheel Drive Car! What Should I Buy?

Hyundai Santa Fe, or Subaru Forester?

We have a new Ask TFL, where we give our recommendations on what cars or trucks we would recommend. Zach recently reached out to us and wanted to know which would be the better option for an all-wheel drive crossover: The new Hyundai Santa Fe, or the equally new Subaru Forester.

Ask TFL: I Need A More Practical All-Wheel Drive Car! What Should I Buy?
Subaru redesigned the Forester for the 2019 model year.

Here is Zach’s e-mail:

“I really enjoy watching your videos and following all your channels! I am currently searching for a new vehicle and I have it narrowed down to two that I’m very interested in, but I wanted to know what you guys would pick.

The two choices I’m deciding between are the 2019 Hyundai Sante Fe (SEL AWD) and the 2019 Subaru Forester Premium. I currently drive a FWD 2013 Ford Fusion, and I am looking for a crossover with a good AWD system, and more space for cargo and passengers than my car currently provides. The main reason I’m looking for an AWD vehicle is for dealing with winter weather conditions as I live in the Midwest. I also go hunting in the fall every year so I do need to handle gravel roads and occasional mud and light off road trails.

I’ve seen your videos on both Hyundai’s HTRAC AWD system and Subaru’s AWD system. I know in both vehicles the transmissions aren’t ideal for severe off roading, but I feel like both AWD systems will be more than enough for what I need to do. I know members of your team have driven both of these vehicles and I am interested in hearing which vehicle you guys would recommend.

Side note: I have seen dealers marking down the price of the Santa Fe’s by $4,000-$6,000 off MSRP, but the Subaru dealers don’t have much of a markdown listed online, so I’m guessing I could get a better price at a Hyundai dealer.

Please let me know what you think!”

Ask TFL: I Need A More Practical All-Wheel Drive Car! What Should I Buy?
While the Subaru has an evolutionary look, the Hyundai Santa Fe looks totally different.

Recommendation: Hyundai Santa Fe

With either car, you won’t really go wrong when it comes to practicality. The Subaru has slightly more cargo space with the seats down, but they both offer over 70 cubic feet. They both offer a wide range of tech, although neither of these are the top-end trims. You can’t really split them on price, either, since the Hyundai starts at $28,695 after destination for the SEL trim and the Subaru Forester Premium starts at about $27,670.

The two areas where I split these two are on styling and performance. On those fronts, I’d personally go for the Hyundai. I like the Santa Fe looks. The Subaru Forester isn’t ugly by any means, but the new 2019 model is an evolution from the previous generation. The Santa Fe, on the other hand, sets out to look different, and I like that. A

Unlike the Subaru Forester, the Hyundai Santa Fe also comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Forester’s boxer engine is good for a low center of gravity, but that CVT just saps all the fun out of the driving experience. Sorry. Against it, the Santa Fe does have just 7.2 inches of ground clearance to the Forester’s 8.7 inches. But if you’re just looking for something to get around in the winter, either car should see you through, especially with proper winter tires.

Under the hood, the Hyundai Santa Fe has a 185 horsepower 2.4-liter engine with 178 lb-ft of torque. That’s fairly similar to the Forester, but the transmission makes that power feel more dynamic.

The competition

Of course, both cars sit in a fiercely competitive segment with plenty of rivals. The Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, Jeep Cherokee, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Ford Escape all compete against these two, so there’s plenty of choice.

What would you recommend for Zach? Put your suggestions in the comments below.