Hyundai Santa Fe vs. Hyundai Tucson: Battle of The SUVs

November 12th, 2020 by
2020 Hyundai Tucson vs. 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe

Both are budget-friendly vehicles that give customers a lot to like. The Tucson is a 2-row SUV and a 2-and 3-row version of the Santa Fe is available.

The 2018 Hyundai Tucson is a recipient of our 2018 Teens Best New Cars Award and has been a finalist for our 2018 Best Compact SUV for the Money Award. Hyundai dropped the Tucson Eco and Sport trims for the 2018 model year and shuffled deals at other trim levels. But, between the Hyundai Tucson vs. Santa Fe, which one is best for you?

Several substantial changes were made to the Hyundai Santa Fe for the 2018 model year, ahead of the completely updated 2019 Santa Fe launch.

Hyundai Tucson vs. Santa Fe Price:

The 2018 Hyundai Tucson starts at $22,550, which is less than the 2-row 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport starting MSRP of $24,950 and the 3-row Santa Fe starting price of $30,850. The Tucson comes in five levels: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Value, and Limited The Limited top-tier starts at $29,425. For an extra $1,400, all-wheel drive can be added to any model.

The Santa Fe Sport is available in three grades: the Santa Fe Sport base ($24,950), the 2.0T ($31,350), and the 2.0T Ultimate ($35,650). It is possible to fit two-row Santa Fe Sport models with all-wheel drive for an additional $1,550. Then there are three trims for the 3-row Santa Fe: SE, SE Ultimate ($38,850), and Limited Ultimate ($39,550). All-wheel drive is an extra charge of $1,750 for any accent.

Winner: Tucson

Hyundai Tucson vs. Santa Fe Reliability:

The Hyundai Santa Fe has a lower estimated score for performance (3.5 out of 5) than the Hyundai Tucson (4 out of 5). To evaluate the expected scores for performance, U.S. news is using J.D. Power data.

There were no updates to the Tucson. The Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport though, have. Hyundai recalled more than 40,000 models in March for a steering wheel problem.

The Tucson, Santa Fe, and Santa Fe Sport are all protected by a standard five-year/60,000-mile warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, one of the best on the market.

Winner: Tucson

Hyundai Tucson vs. Santa Fe Cargo:

The Santa Fe is bigger than the Tucson, so it makes sense to have more cargo space, earning it the advantage in this category. The Santa Fe has behind the third row 13.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second 40.9 cubic feet. Generally, the Santa Fe has a cargo space of 80 cubic feet.

The Tucson comes with 31 cubic feet of cargo space that can be extended by reducing the 60/40-folding rear seat to 61.9 cubic feet.

All models were fitted with the same hands-free elevator. The system recognizes the key of the car and when you are behind it, the liftgate closes.

Winner: Santa Fe

Hyundai Tucson vs. Santa Fe Interior Tech:

Loaded with a greater set of standard features than the five-seat Santa Fe Sport and Hyundai Tucson, the higher-priced seven-seat Hyundai Santa Fe emerges. Both the Santa Fe Sport and Tucson come with a 5-inch touch-screen display, a USB port, Wifi, and a mirror for rearview. The Santa Fe comes with a 7-inch screen, a USB port, Bluetooth and automatic climate control rearview camera, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, HD Radio, and dual area.

You can switch to an 8-inch touch screen in the Santa Fe, navigation, third-row USB ports, a household-style power socket, a panoramic sunroof, a proximity key, and a push-button. The Tucson offers similar features, including a 7/8-inch touch screen, satellite radio, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, navigation, Infinity audio system, automatic dual-zone climate control, proximity key, and a panoramic sunroof.

Winner: Santa Fe

Hyundai Tucson vs. Santa Fe Acceleration:

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport comes with a four-cylinder engine with a 2.4-liter 185-horsepower. It’s a bit clunky, so it’s worth the upgrade to the 240-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The 3-row Santa Fe has only one engine: a 3.3-liter V6 with 290-horsepower.

The 2.0-liter base four-cylinder engine of the Tucson is slow off the line, but the 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine is doing much better. The powerful V6 from the Santa Fe gives it the win here.

Winner: Santa Fe

Hyundai Tucson vs. Santa Fe Fuel Economy:

What has been lacking in speed for the Hyundai Tucson is fuel economy. The 4-cylinder base 2.0-liter engine is 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. The 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder power plant in the city earns 25 mpg and 30 mpg on the highway.

The 2.4-liter base four-cylinder engine of the Santa Fe Sport gets 21/27 mpg city/highway. In both driving conditions, switching to the turbocharged 2.0-liter4-cylinder engine would cost you 1 mpg. The 3-row Santa Fe 3.3-liter V6 gets a city/highway with an EPA rating of 18/25 mpg.

Winner: Tucson

Hyundai Tucson vs. Santa Fe Safety:

When you compare  Hyundai Tucson vs. Santa Fe earned from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) the same Great ratings across the panel. Nevertheless, the Tucson beat the Santa Fe in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) test, earning five-star ratings in all but the rollover crash test, awarding it the advantage in this class. In the overall and side crash tests, the Santa Fe received five-star ratings, but only four stars in the frontal and rollover crash trials.

Winner: Tucson

And Finally…

This was a very tight race, but the victory is won by the Hyundai Tucson. With either SUV, you can’t really go wrong. The Santa Fe has better acceleration, but the fuel economy is significantly improved by the Tucson. Although the Santa Fe comes with more standard features, the Tucson has a lower starting cost, making it more affordable to update. With their long warranties, all designers win accolades when you compare the Hyundai Tucson vs. Santa Fe.

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