2019 Volvo XC90 vs. 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Hyundai Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.

The XC90’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Hyundai Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer height-adjustable middle seat belts.

Both the XC90 and Santa Fe XL have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The XC90 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Santa Fe XL’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Volvo XC90 offers an optional built in child booster seat. It’s more crash worthy than an added child seat because of its direct attachment to the seat. Hyundai doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the Santa Fe XL. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; XC90 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the XC90 deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The XC90’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The Santa Fe XL’s airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

The XC90 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The XC90 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The XC90’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the XC90 and the Santa Fe XL have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available around view monitors.

The Volvo XC90 weighs 560 to 1051 pounds more than the Hyundai Santa Fe XL. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Volvo XC90 is safer than the Hyundai Santa Fe XL:

 

XC90

Santa Fe XL

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

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 Volvo XC90 is safer than the Hyundai Santa Fe XL:

 

XC90

Santa Fe XL

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

51

96

Chest Movement

.7 inches

.9 inches

Hip Force

255 lbs.

339 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

94

102

Spine Acceleration

40 G’s

51 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

15 inches

HIC

209

267

Spine Acceleration

29 G’s

48 G’s

Hip Force

383 lbs.

612 lbs.

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

Warranty

The XC90’s corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the Santa Fe XL’s (12 vs. 7 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC90 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Hyundai doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Santa Fe XL.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the XC90 has a standard 800-amp battery. The Santa Fe XL’s 660-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the XC90 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the XC90’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Santa Fe XL’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

Engine

The XC90 T5’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 6 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 252) than the Santa Fe XL’s 3.3 DOHC V6. The XC90 T6’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 26 more horsepower (316 vs. 290) and 43 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 252) than the Santa Fe XL’s 3.3 DOHC V6. The XC90 T8’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 110 more horsepower (400 vs. 290) and 220 lbs.-ft. more torque (472 vs. 252) than the Santa Fe XL’s 3.3 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the XC90 T6 is faster than the Hyundai Santa Fe XL:

 

XC90

Santa Fe XL

Zero to 60 MPH

6.7 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter Mile

15.1 sec

15.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

90.4 MPH

89.1 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 T8 running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the Santa Fe XL AWD (59 city/56 hwy MPGe vs. 18 city/24 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 T8 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the Santa Fe XL AWD (24 city/27 hwy vs. 18 city/24 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 gets better fuel mileage than the Santa Fe XL:

 

 

 

MPG

XC90

 

FWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/29 hwy

 

AWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

 

 

T6 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4 cyl.

19 city/26 hwy

Santa Fe XL

 

FWD

3.3 DOHC V6

18 city/25 hwy

 

 

Ultimate 3.3 DOHC V6

18 city/23 hwy

 

AWD

3.3 DOHC V6

18 city/24 hwy

 

 

Ultimate 3.3 DOHC V6

17 city/22 hwy

The XC90 T8 can drive on battery power alone for up to 17 miles. The Santa Fe XL must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regenerative brakes improve the XC90 T8’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the XC90’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The XC90 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volvo XC90 higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the Hyundai Santa Fe XL (3). This means the XC90 produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Santa Fe XL every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Volvo XC90, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Santa Fe XL.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the XC90’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Santa Fe XL:

 

XC90 T5/T6

XC90 T8

Santa Fe XL

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

14.4 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

13.4 inches

11.9 inches

The XC90’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Santa Fe XL are solid, not vented.

The XC90 stops much shorter than the Santa Fe XL:

 

XC90

Santa Fe XL

 

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

125 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

140 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the XC90’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Santa Fe XL (275/45R20 vs. 235/60R18).

The XC90’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Santa Fe XL Ultimate’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the XC90 offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Santa Fe XL’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The XC90 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Santa Fe XL’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The XC90 has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The XC90’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the XC90’s wheelbase is 7.3 inches longer than on the Santa Fe XL (117.5 inches vs. 110.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the XC90 is 1.7 inches wider in the front and 1.3 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Santa Fe XL.

The XC90 T6 AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the Santa Fe XL AWD pulls only .74 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The XC90 T6 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.6 seconds quicker than the Santa Fe XL AWD (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .59 average G’s).

Passenger Space

The XC90 has 1.1 inches more rear hip room, .6 inches more third row headroom, 1 inch more third row legroom and .8 inches more third row hip room than the Santa Fe XL.

The front step up height for the XC90 is 2 inches lower than the Santa Fe XL (15.8” vs. 17.8”). The XC90’s rear step up height is 2.3 inches lower than the Santa Fe XL’s (16” vs. 18.3”).

Cargo Capacity

The XC90’s cargo area provides more volume than the Santa Fe XL.

 

XC90

Santa Fe XL

Behind Third Seat

15.9 cubic feet

13.5 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

41.8 cubic feet

40.9 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

85.7 cubic feet

80 cubic feet

The XC90’s cargo area is larger than the Santa Fe XL’s in almost every dimension:

 

XC90

Santa Fe XL

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

21.8”/49.6”/80.3”

17.6”/47”/84”

Max Width

54.7”

50.7”

Min Width

44.5”

44”

Height

35”

n/a

The XC90 has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the XC90’s optional third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

Ergonomics

The XC90 has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Santa Fe XL Ultimate, the XC90 R-Design/Inscription/Excellence has a passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The XC90 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

If the windows are left open on the XC90 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Santa Fe XL can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The XC90’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Santa Fe XL’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the XC90 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC90 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer headlight washers.

A manual rear sunshade is optional in the XC90 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

When the XC90 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 XL’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The XC90 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Santa Fe XL offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The XC90 Inscription/Excellence has standard front air conditioned seats and the XC90 Excellence also has them in the second row. This keeps the passengers comfortable and takes the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats for the second row.

The XC90’s optional Park Assist Pilot can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the XC90 is less expensive to operate than the Santa Fe XL because typical repairs cost much less on the XC90 than the Santa Fe XL, including $731 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Volvo XC90, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels.

Motor Trend selected the XC90 as their 2016 Sport Utility of the Year. The Santa Fe XL has never been chosen.

The XC90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The Santa Fe XL has never been an “All Star.”

A group of representative automotive journalists from North America selected the XC90 as the 2016 North American Truck of the Year. The Santa Fe XL has never been chosen.

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

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