2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL vs. 2019 Toyota Highlander

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Compared to metal, the Santa Fe XL’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Toyota Highlander has a metal gas tank.

Both the Santa Fe XL and the Highlander have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Hyundai Santa Fe XL is safer than the Toyota Highlander:

 

Santa Fe XL

Highlander

 

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

140

195

Neck Injury Risk

34%

47%

Neck Stress

375 lbs.

509 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

189/318 lbs.

409/517 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Hyundai Santa Fe XL is safer than the Toyota Highlander:

 

Santa Fe XL

Highlander

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

339 lbs.

348 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

102

111

Hip Force

412 lbs.

440 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

15 inches

16 inches

HIC

267

372

Hip Force

612 lbs.

829 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Acceptable” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Santa Fe XL the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 62 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Highlander has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty

The Santa Fe XL comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Highlander’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Hyundai’s powertrain warranty covers the Santa Fe XL 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Toyota covers the Highlander. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Highlander ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The Santa Fe XL’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Highlander’s (7 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Santa Fe XL has a standard 660-amp battery. The Highlander’s 604-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Santa Fe XL second among midsize suvs in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Highlander isn’t in the top three.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are better in initial quality than Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 22 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked 17th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai 6th in reliability, above the industry average. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked 8th.

Engine

The Santa Fe XL’s 3.3 DOHC V6 produces 105 more horsepower (290 vs. 185) and 68 lbs.-ft. more torque (252 vs. 184) than the Highlander’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl.

Brakes and Stopping

The Santa Fe XL stops much shorter than the Highlander:

 

Santa Fe XL

Highlander

 

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

131 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

140 feet

146 feet

Consumer Reports

Suspension and Handling

The Santa Fe XL has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Santa Fe XL has vehicle speed-sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The Santa Fe XL AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Highlander LE (27.5 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.3 seconds @ .64 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Santa Fe XL’s turning circle is 1.8 feet tighter than the Highlander’s (36.9 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

Passenger Space

The Santa Fe XL has .1 inches more front shoulder room, 2 inches more rear legroom and 3.2 inches more third row legroom than the Highlander.

The front step up height for the Santa Fe XL is 1.5 inches lower than the Highlander (17.8” vs. 19.3”). The Santa Fe XL’s rear step up height is 1.2 inches lower than the Highlander’s (18.3” vs. 19.5”).

Cargo Capacity

The Santa Fe XL’s cargo area is larger than the Highlander’s in almost every dimension:

 

Santa Fe XL

Highlander

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

17.6”/47”/84”

17.5”/43”/80”

Max Width

50.7”

56”

Min Width

44”

45.6”

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Santa Fe XL’s liftgate can be opened just by waiting momentarily behind the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Highlander doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Payload and Towing

The Santa Fe XL’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Highlander’s (5000 vs. 1500 pounds).

The Santa Fe XL has a higher standard payload capacity than the Highlander (1444 vs. 1370 lbs.).

The Santa Fe XL has a higher maximum payload capacity than the Highlander (1515 vs. 1455 lbs.).

Servicing Ease

The Santa Fe XL uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Highlander uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the Santa Fe XL and the Highlander have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Santa Fe XL is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Highlander prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Santa Fe XL’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Highlander’s headlights are rated “Acceptable.”

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Santa Fe XL Ultimate offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Highlander doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Santa Fe XL has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Highlander.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Santa Fe XL is less expensive to operate than the Highlander because typical repairs cost much less on the Santa Fe XL than the Highlander, including $196 less for a starter, $190 less for fuel injection, $1 less for a fuel pump and $478 less for a timing belt/chain.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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