2019 Kia Niro vs. 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Niro has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Santa Fe doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

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

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Hyundai vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Hyundai is ranked third.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Hyundai vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Hyundai is ranked 6th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Hyundai vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia third in reliability. Hyundai is ranked 10th.

Engine

The Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 17 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 178) than the Santa Fe’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Niro gets better fuel mileage than the Santa Fe:

 

 

Niro

Santa Fe

 

FWD

FE

52 city/49 hwy

22 city/29 hwy

2.4 cyl./Auto

 

LX/EX

51 city/46 hwy

20 city/25 hwy

2.0 4 cyl. Turbo/Auto

 

Touring

46 city/40 hwy

n/a

 

AWD

 

n/a

21 city/27 hwy

2.4 4 cyl./Auto

 

 

n/a

19 city/24 hwy

2.0 4 cyl. Turbo/Auto

Regenerative brakes improve the Niro’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Santa Fe doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Transmission

The Niro offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Santa Fe doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Tires and Wheels

The Niro FE/LX/EX’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Santa Fe SE/SEL’s standard 65 series tires. The Niro S Touring/Touring’s tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Santa Fe’s optional 55 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the Niro’s turning circle is 2.7 feet tighter than the Santa Fe’s (34.8 feet vs. 37.5 feet).

Chassis

The Kia Niro may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 500 to 1100 pounds less than the Hyundai Santa Fe.

The Niro is 1 foot, 4.3 inches shorter than the Santa Fe, making the Niro easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

For excellent aerodynamics, the Niro has standard flush composite headlights. The Santa Fe has recessed headlights that spoil its aerodynamic shape and create extra drag.

Passenger Space

The front step up height for the Niro is 2.5 inches lower than the Santa Fe (15.5” vs. 18”). The Niro’s rear step up height is 2.3 inches lower than the Santa Fe’s (16.2” vs. 18.5”).

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Niro easier. The Niro’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 29 inches, while the Santa Fe’s liftover is 31.2 inches.

Ergonomics

The Niro’s standard front power windows lower with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Santa Fe’s standard power windows’ passenger windows don’t open automatically.

When the Niro with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Santa Fe’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Niro 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 is only available on the Santa Fe SEL Plus/Limited/Ultimate.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Niro, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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

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