2020 Hyundai Santa Fe vs. 2019 BMW X3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Hyundai Santa Fe 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 BMW X3 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the Santa Fe and X3 have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Santa Fe 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 X3’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.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Santa Fe are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The X3 doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Santa Fe has a standard Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist that use rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The X3 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the Santa Fe and the X3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.


The Santa Fe comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The X3’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Hyundai’s powertrain warranty covers the Santa Fe 6 years and 50,000 miles longer than BMW covers the X3. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the X3 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 2 times as many Hyundai dealers as there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Santa Fe’s warranty.


A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Santa Fe’s reliability 20 points higher than the X3.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Santa Fe first among midsize SUVs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The X3 isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are better in initial quality than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 31 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 20th, below the industry average.

Fuel Economy and Range

The Santa Fe has 1.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the X3’s standard fuel tank (18.8 vs. 17.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Santa Fe has 1.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the X3 M40i’s standard fuel tank (18.8 vs. 17.7 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

The Santa Fe stops shorter than the X3:

Santa Fe


60 to 0 MPH

125 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Santa Fe has larger tires than the X3 (235/65R17 vs. 225/60R18).

Suspension and Handling

The Santa Fe has a standard automatic load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The X3 doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For better maneuverability, the Santa Fe’s turning circle is 1.9 feet tighter than the X3 xDrive30i’s (37.5 feet vs. 39.4 feet). The Santa Fe’s turning circle is 2.2 feet tighter than the X3 M40i’s (37.5 feet vs. 39.7 feet).


The Hyundai Santa Fe may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs up to about 450 pounds less than the BMW X3.

Passenger Space

The Santa Fe has 9.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the X3 (110.7 vs. 101.4).

Cargo Capacity

The Santa Fe’s cargo area provides more volume than the X3.

Santa Fe


Rear Seat Up

35.9 cubic feet

28.7 cubic feet

Rear Seat Folded

71.3 cubic feet

62.7 cubic feet

The Santa Fe’s cargo area is larger than the X3’s in almost every dimension:

Santa Fe


Length to seat (2nd/1st)



Max Width



Min Width






To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just waiting momentarily behind the back bumper can open the Santa Fe’s liftgate, leaving your hands completely free. The X3 doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.


The Santa Fe SEL/Limited/Ultimate 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 X3 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Santa Fe has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the X3 only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

Consumer Reports rated the Santa Fe’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the X3’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Santa Fe Limited keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The X3 doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The Santa Fe Limited has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The X3 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Santa Fe owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Santa Fe will cost $395 less than the X3 over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Santa Fe is less expensive to operate than the X3 because it costs $272 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Santa Fe than the X3, including $573 less for a water pump, $601 less for a muffler, $76 less for front brake pads, $454 less for a starter, $262 less for fuel injection, $151 less for a fuel pump, $270 less for front struts, $541 less for a timing belt/chain and $458 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Hyundai Santa Fe will be $12816 to $13033 less than for the BMW X3.


Consumer Reports® recommends both the Hyundai Santa Fe and the BMW X3, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Hyundai Santa Fe outsold the BMW X3 by almost two to one during 2018.

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

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