2020 Hyundai Santa Fe vs. 2019 Jeep Cherokee

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the Santa Fe and Cherokee 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 Cherokee’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 Cherokee doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Santa Fe Limited has a standard Surround View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Cherokee only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The Santa Fe’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 Cherokee doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Santa Fe and the Cherokee 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 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 is safer than the Jeep Cherokee:

Santa Fe

Cherokee

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

19%

38.2%

Neck Stress

167 lbs.

408 lbs.

Neck Compression

35 lbs.

41 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Compression

.5 inches

.5 inches

Neck Injury Risk

33%

37%

Neck Stress

120 lbs.

218 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

256/146 lbs.

241/259 lbs.

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

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Hyundai Santa Fe is safer than the Cherokee:

Santa Fe

Cherokee

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

POOR

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

4 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

1.9/.1 kN

3.5/1.6 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

1%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Tibia index R/L

.7/.38

.84/.45

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 is safer than the Jeep Cherokee:

Santa Fe

Cherokee

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

49

64

Chest Movement

.6 inches

.7 inches

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

179

264

Hip Force

648 lbs.

938 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

8 inches

14 inches

HIC

179

203

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

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Santa Fe its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Cherokee was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

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 Cherokee’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

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

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

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Santa Fe has a standard 800-amp battery. The Cherokee’s 700-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Santa Fe first among midsize SUVs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Cherokee 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 Jeep vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 29 more problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep is ranked 17th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Jeep vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 43 more problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep is ranked 24th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Jeep vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Hyundai 12 places higher in reliability than Jeep.

Engine

The Santa Fe 2.0T’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 21 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 239) than the Cherokee’s optional 3.2 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the Hyundai Santa Fe 2.4 4-cylinder is faster than the Jeep Cherokee 4 cyl.:

Santa Fe

Cherokee

Zero to 60 MPH

8.9 sec

9.5 sec

Quarter Mile

16.7 sec

17.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

84.3 MPH

80.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Hyundai Santa Fe uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Cherokee with the 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder engine requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Santa Fe has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the Cherokee (18.8 vs. 15.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Environmental Friendliness

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

Brakes and Stopping

The Santa Fe stops shorter than the Cherokee:

Santa Fe

Cherokee

60 to 0 MPH

125 feet

131 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

141 feet

153 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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

Suspension and Handling

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

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

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Santa Fe’s wheelbase is 2.4 inches longer than on the Cherokee (108.9 inches vs. 106.5 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Santa Fe is 1.5 inches wider in the front and 1.7 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the Cherokee.

The Santa Fe AWD handles at .81 G’s, while the Cherokee Limited 4x4 pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Santa Fe’s turning circle is .1 feet tighter than the Cherokee’s (37.5 feet vs. 37.6 feet). The Santa Fe’s turning circle is .6 feet tighter than the Cherokee 4x4 Trailhawk’s (37.5 feet vs. 38.1 feet).

Chassis

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Santa Fe AWD is quieter than the Cherokee Limited 4x4:

Santa Fe

Cherokee

At idle

37 dB

44 dB

Full-Throttle

72 dB

77 dB

70 MPH Cruising

64 dB

69 dB

Passenger Space

The Santa Fe has 7.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Cherokee (110.7 vs. 103.5).

Cargo Capacity

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

Santa Fe

Cherokee

Rear Seat Up

35.9 cubic feet

24.6 cubic feet

Rear Seat Folded

71.3 cubic feet

54.9 cubic feet

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

Santa Fe

Cherokee

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

42.4”/77.4”

33.9”/67.6”

Max Width

53.7”

49.2”

Min Width

42.3”

39.4”

Height

31.5”

28.8”

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

Ergonomics

The Santa Fe Limited has a standard 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 Cherokee doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Santa Fe owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Santa Fe with a number “5” insurance rate while the Cherokee is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Santa Fe is less expensive to operate than the Cherokee because typical repairs cost much less on the Santa Fe than the Cherokee, including $121 less for a water pump, $321 less for a muffler, $52 less for front brake pads, $234 less for a starter, $234 less for a fuel pump, $59 less for front struts and $428 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Hyundai Santa Fe, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Jeep Cherokee isn't recommended.

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

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