2020 Hyundai Santa Fe vs. 2019 Lexus NX Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Forward Collision Avoidance Assist in the Santa Fe as “Superior.” The NX Series scores only 4 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

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 NX Series doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Compared to metal, the Santa Fe’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Lexus NX Series has a metal gas tank.

Both the Santa Fe and the NX Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors 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 Lexus NX Series:

Santa Fe

NX Series

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

19%

46%

Neck Stress

167 lbs.

509 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

374/622 lbs.

480/609 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

244

355

Neck Injury Risk

33%

42%

Neck Stress

120 lbs.

295 lbs.

Neck Compression

48 lbs.

70 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

256/146 lbs.

442/307 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 Hyundai Santa Fe is safer than the Lexus NX Series:

Santa Fe

NX Series

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

49

192

Chest Movement

.6 inches

.6 inches

Abdominal Force

141 G’s

148 G’s

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

179

317

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Max Damage Depth

8 inches

15 inches

HIC

179

542

Hip Force

649 lbs.

828 lbs.

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 NX Series has not been fully tested, yet.

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 NX Series’ 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Hyundai’s powertrain warranty covers the Santa Fe 4 years and 30,000 miles longer than Lexus covers the NX Series. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the NX Series ends after only 6 years or 70,000 miles.

The Santa Fe’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the NX Series’ (7 vs. 6 years).

There are almost 4 times as many Hyundai dealers as there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Santa Fe’s warranty.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Santa Fe has a standard 800-amp battery. The NX Series’ 580-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 NX Series 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 Lexus vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 19 more problems per 100 vehicles, Lexus is ranked 8th.

Engine

The Santa Fe 2.0T’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 41 more horsepower (235 vs. 194) and 61 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 199) than the NX 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Santa Fe 2.0T is faster than the NX 300h:

Santa Fe

NX Series

Zero to 60 MPH

8.7 sec

8.9 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

5.4 sec

5.6 sec

Quarter Mile

16.7 sec

16.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

87 MPH

84.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

Regardless of its engine, the Santa Fe’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Lexus only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the NX Series 300h.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Hyundai Santa Fe uses regular unleaded gasoline. The NX 300 requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Santa Fe has 4 gallons more fuel capacity than the NX Series Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (18.8 vs. 14.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Santa Fe has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the NX Series’ standard fuel tank (18.8 vs. 15.9 gallons).

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 Lexus NX Series (3 to 7). This means the Santa Fe produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the NX Series every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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

Brakes and Stopping

The Santa Fe stops shorter than the NX Series:

Santa Fe

NX Series

70 to 0 MPH

176 feet

183 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

125 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

141 feet

142 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Santa Fe 2.0T has standard 19-inch wheels. The NX Series’ largest wheels are only 18-inches.

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 NX Series doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Santa Fe’s wheelbase is 4.2 inches longer than on the NX Series (108.9 inches vs. 104.7 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Santa Fe is 2.7 inches wider in the front and 3 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the NX Series.

The Santa Fe AWD handles at .81 G’s, while the NX 300 F Sport AWD pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The Hyundai Santa Fe may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs up to about 350 pounds less than the Lexus NX Series.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Santa Fe AWD is quieter than the NX 300 F Sport AWD:

Santa Fe

NX Series

At idle

37 dB

37 dB

Full-Throttle

72 dB

74 dB

70 MPH Cruising

64 dB

69 dB

Passenger Space

The Santa Fe has 39.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the NX Series (110.7 vs. 71.6).

Cargo Capacity

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

Santa Fe

NX Series

Rear Seat Up

35.9 cubic feet

17.7 cubic feet

Rear Seat Folded

71.3 cubic feet

54.6 cubic feet

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

Santa Fe

NX Series

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

42.4”/77.4”

36”/71.5”

Max Width

53.7”

53”

Min Width

42.3”

44.3”

Height

31.5”

27”

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 NX Series doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Santa Fe’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 NX Series’ power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

Both the Santa Fe and the NX Series offer available heated front seats. The Santa Fe Limited also has standard heated second row seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the NX Series.

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 NX Series 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 $195 to $1375 less than the NX Series over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Santa Fe is less expensive to operate than the NX Series because it costs $463 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Santa Fe than the NX Series, including $229 less for a water pump, $247 less for a muffler, $289 less for a starter, $306 less for fuel injection, $54 less for a fuel pump and $782 less for a timing belt/chain.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Hyundai Santa Fe will be $59 to $7304 less than for the Lexus NX Series.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Lexus NX Series, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Hyundai Santa Fe outsold the Lexus NX Series by 89% during 2018.

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

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