2020 Hyundai Santa Fe vs. 2019 Mercedes GLA

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the Santa Fe and GLA 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 GLA’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 GLA 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 GLA doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

To help make backing safer, the Santa Fe SEL/Limited’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The GLA doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

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 Mercedes GLA has a metal gas tank.

Both the Santa Fe and the GLA 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, 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 and around view monitors.

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 GLA has not been 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 GLA’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 Mercedes covers the GLA. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the GLA ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

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

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

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Santa Fe has a standard 140-amp alternator. The GLA’s 115-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Santa Fe first among midsize SUVs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The GLA 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 Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 12th, 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 Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 10 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 13th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Hyundai 7 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Engine

The Santa Fe 2.0T’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 27 more horsepower (235 vs. 208) and 2 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 258) than the GLA 250’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

The Santa Fe has 5.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the GLA 250’s standard fuel tank (18.8 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Santa Fe has 4 gallons more fuel capacity than the GLA 45 AMG’s standard fuel tank (18.8 vs. 14.8 gallons).

Transmission

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

Brakes and Stopping

The Santa Fe stops shorter than the GLA:

Santa Fe

GLA

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

141 feet

142 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

The Santa Fe has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the GLA; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

The Santa Fe has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The GLA 250 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 GLA doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Santa Fe’s wheelbase is 2.6 inches longer than on the GLA (108.9 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Santa Fe is 3.2 inches wider in the front and 3.4 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the GLA.

The Santa Fe’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (57.3% to 42.7%) than the GLA’s (59.7% to 40.3%). This gives the Santa Fe more stable handling and braking.

Chassis

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Santa Fe AWD is quieter than the GLA 250 4MATIC:

Santa Fe

GLA

At idle

37 dB

42 dB

Full-Throttle

72 dB

73 dB

70 MPH Cruising

64 dB

70 dB

Passenger Space

The Santa Fe has 19.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the GLA (110.7 vs. 91).

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Santa Fe’s middle row seats recline. The GLA’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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

Santa Fe

GLA

Rear Seat Up

35.9 cubic feet

17.2 cubic feet

Rear Seat Folded

71.3 cubic feet

43.6 cubic feet

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

Santa Fe

GLA

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

42.4”/77.4”

31.6”/63”

Max Width

53.7”

41.8”

Min Width

42.3”

41”

Height

31.5”

28.3”

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

Servicing Ease

The Santa Fe uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The GLA uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

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 GLA 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 GLA’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

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 GLA 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 GLA’s headlights, which were rated “Poor.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Santa Fe detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The GLA doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Santa Fe has standard extendable sun visors. The GLA doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Both the Santa Fe and the GLA 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 GLA.

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 GLA doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Santa Fe Limited’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The GLA doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

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 GLA doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

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 GLA 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 GLA because typical repairs cost much less on the Santa Fe than the GLA, including $600 less for a water pump, $251 less for a muffler, $156 less for front brake pads, $458 less for a starter, $280 less for fuel injection, $109 less for a fuel pump, $190 less for front struts and $129 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

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

The Hyundai Santa Fe outsold the Mercedes GLA by almost five to one during 2018.

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

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