2020 Honda Pilot vs. 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the Pilot and the Santa Fe XL 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors 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 Honda Pilot is safer than the Hyundai Santa Fe XL:

Pilot

Santa Fe XL

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

28%

34%

Neck Stress

189 lbs.

375 lbs.

Neck Compression

46 lbs.

103 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

46/243 lbs.

189/318 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

216

224

Neck Injury Risk

35%

53%

Neck Stress

116 lbs.

165 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 Honda Pilot is safer than the Hyundai Santa Fe XL:

Pilot

Santa Fe XL

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.6 inches

.9 inches

Abdominal Force

101 G’s

147 G’s

Hip Force

269 lbs.

339 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

42 G’s

51 G’s

Hip Force

304 lbs.

412 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

45 G’s

48 G’s

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

Warranty

There are over 24 percent more Honda dealers than there are Hyundai dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Pilot’s warranty.

Reliability

The engine in the Pilot has a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engine in the Santa Fe XL has dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

Engine

The Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 10 lbs.-ft. more torque (262 vs. 252) than the Santa Fe XL’s 3.3 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the Honda Pilot is faster than the Hyundai Santa Fe XL:

Pilot

Santa Fe XL

Zero to 60 MPH

6.2 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter Mile

14.8 sec

15.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

93.9 MPH

89.1 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Pilot gets better fuel mileage than the Palisade:

MPG

Pilot

FWD

9-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/27 hwy

6-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/27 hwy

AWD

9-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

6-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

18 city/26 hwy

Santa Fe XL

FWD

6-spd

3.3 DOHC V6

18 city/25 hwy

6-spd

Ultimate 3.3 DOHC V6

18 city/23 hwy

AWD

6-spd

3.3 DOHC V6

18 city/24 hwy

6-spd

Ultimate 3.3 DOHC V6

17 city/22 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Pilot’s fuel efficiency. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’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 Pilot 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.

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Honda Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition, 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

The Pilot stops shorter than the Santa Fe XL:

Pilot

Santa Fe XL

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

125 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Pilot has larger tires than the Santa Fe XL (245/60R18 vs. 235/60R18).

The Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 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 Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition has standard 20-inch wheels. The Santa Fe XL’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

The Pilot has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Pilot (except LX)’s optional drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Pilot is 2.2 inches wider in the front and 1.8 inches wider in the rear than on the Santa Fe XL.

The Pilot Elite 4WD handles at .83 G’s, while the Santa Fe XL AWD pulls only .74 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Pilot Elite 4WD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Santa Fe XL AWD (27.5 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .59 average G’s).

Chassis

The Pilot uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Pilot has standard seating for 8 passengers; the Santa Fe XL can only carry 7.

The Pilot has 6.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Santa Fe XL (152.9 vs. 146.6).

The Pilot has .2 inches more front headroom, 2.4 inches more front hip room, 2.6 inches more front shoulder room, .8 inches more rear headroom, 1.9 inches more rear hip room, 3.7 inches more rear shoulder room, 3.2 inches more third row headroom, 1 inch more third row legroom, .5 inches more third row hip room and 3.7 inches more third row shoulder room than the Santa Fe XL.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Pilot’s middle and third row seats recline. The Santa Fe XL’s third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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

Pilot

Santa Fe XL

Behind Third Seat

18.5 cubic feet

13.5 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.9 cubic feet

40.9 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

109 cubic feet

80 cubic feet

The Pilot 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.

Ergonomics

The Pilot EX/EX-L/Touring/Elite/Black Edition 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.

If the windows are left open on the Pilot 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 Pilot’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Santa Fe XL’s power mirror switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

The Pilot’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Santa Fe XL’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted. The Pilot Elite/Black Edition’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield.

When the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition 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 Pilot Elite/Black Edition 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.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Honda Pilot Elite//Black Edition has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) for the front seat. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Pilot is less expensive to operate than the Santa Fe XL because it costs $455 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Pilot than the Santa Fe XL, including $9 less for front brake pads, $6 less for front struts, $859 less for a timing belt/chain and $254 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Honda Pilot has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

Pilot

Santa Fe XL

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

TRUE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

The Honda Pilot outsold the Hyundai Santa Fe by 36% during 2018.

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

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