2020 Hyundai Santa Fe vs. 2020 Chevrolet Equinox

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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 Chevrolet Equinox doesn’t offer height-adjustable front seat belts.

Both the Santa Fe and Equinox 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 Equinox’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.

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 Equinox doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

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 Equinox doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Santa Fe and the Equinox have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, 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 Chevrolet Equinox:

Santa Fe

Equinox

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

244

376

Chest Compression

.5 inches

.6 inches

Neck Stress

120 lbs.

153 lbs.

Neck Compression

48 lbs.

51 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

256/146 lbs.

264/236 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 Chevrolet Equinox:

Santa Fe

Equinox

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

49

109

Chest Movement

.6 inches

1.1 inches

Abdominal Force

141 G’s

195 G’s

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

179

288

Spine Acceleration

54 G’s

55 G’s

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

8 inches

13 inches

HIC

179

377

Hip Force

649 lbs.

730 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 Equinox was last qualified as only a standard “Top Pick” in 2017.

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 Equinox’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 Chevrolet covers the Equinox. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Equinox ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The Santa Fe’s corrosion warranty is 1 year and unlimited miles longer than the Equinox’s (7/unlimited vs. 6/100,000).

Reliability

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

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 29 points higher than the Equinox.

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 Chevrolet vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 14 more problems per 100 vehicles, Chevrolet is ranked 6th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Hyundai 13 places higher in reliability than Chevrolet.

Engine

The Santa Fe’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 15 more horsepower (185 vs. 170) than the Equinox’s standard 1.5 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Hyundai Santa Fe 2.4 4-cylinder is faster than the Chevrolet Equinox 1.5 turbo 4 cyl.:

Santa Fe

Equinox

Zero to 60 MPH

8.9 sec

9.2 sec

Quarter Mile

16.7 sec

16.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

84.3 MPH

81.2 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Hyundai Santa Fe uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Equinox 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 3.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the Equinox FWD’s standard fuel tank (18.8 vs. 14.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Santa Fe has 3.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the Equinox AWD’s standard fuel tank (18.8 vs. 15.6 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Santa Fe’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Equinox:

Santa Fe

Equinox

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

11.8 inches

Rear Rotors

12 inches

11.3 inches

The Santa Fe stops shorter than the Equinox:

Santa Fe

Equinox

70 to 0 MPH

176 feet

182 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

125 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

141 feet

145 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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

Suspension and Handling

The Santa Fe has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Santa Fe flat and controlled during cornering. The Equinox’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

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

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Santa Fe’s wheelbase is 1.6 inches longer than on the Equinox (108.9 inches vs. 107.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Santa Fe is 2.5 inches wider in the front and 2.8 inches wider in the rear than on the Equinox.

The Santa Fe AWD handles at .81 G’s, while the Equinox LT AWD pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Passenger Space

The Santa Fe has 7.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Equinox (110.7 vs. 103.2).

Cargo Capacity

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

Santa Fe

Equinox

Rear Seat Up

35.9 cubic feet

29.9 cubic feet

Rear Seat Folded

71.3 cubic feet

63.9 cubic feet

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

Santa Fe

Equinox

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

42.4”/77.4”

34.9”/67.4”

Max Width

53.7”

53.7”

Min Width

42.3”

40.7”

Height

31.5”

31”

Servicing Ease

The Santa Fe uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Equinox 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 Equinox doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Santa Fe SEL/Limited’s front power windows both open or close with one touch of the switches. The Equinox’s front passenger window doesn’t close automatically.

The Santa Fe Limited’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Equinox’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 Equinox is rated higher at a number “8” rate.

The Santa Fe will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Santa Fe will retain 45.92% to 47.83% of its original price after five years, while the Equinox only retains 41.13% to 44.06%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Santa Fe is less expensive to operate than the Equinox because it costs $309 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Santa Fe than the Equinox, including $172 less for a water pump, $447 less for a muffler, $138 less for front brake pads, $161 less for a starter, $184 less for fuel injection, $298 less for a fuel pump and $278 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

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

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

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