2020 Hyundai Santa Fe vs. 2020 Subaru Outback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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 Outback 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 Outback only offers a rear monitor.

Both the Santa Fe and the Outback have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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 and rear cross-path warning.

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

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

There are over 33 percent more Hyundai dealers than there are Subaru dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Santa Fe’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Santa Fe first among midsize SUVs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Outback 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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 42 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th, 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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.

Engine

The Santa Fe’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 3 more horsepower (185 vs. 182) and 2 lbs.-ft. more torque (178 vs. 176) than the Outback 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Santa Fe

Outback

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

12 inches

11.8 inches

Tires and Wheels

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

The Santa Fe 2.0T’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Outback Onyx Edition XT/Limited/Touring’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Santa Fe 2.0T has standard 19-inch wheels. The Outback’s 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 Outback doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Santa Fe is 2.9 inches wider in the front and 2.2 inches wider in the rear than on the Outback.

Chassis

The Santa Fe is 3.5 inches shorter than the Outback, making the Santa Fe easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Santa Fe has 1.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Outback (110.7 vs. 109).

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

Cargo Capacity

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

Santa Fe

Outback

Rear Seat Up

35.9 cubic feet

32.5 cubic feet

Ergonomics

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 Outback doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

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 Outback doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

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 Outback’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Both the Santa Fe and the Outback offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Santa Fe has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Outback doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Hyundai Santa Fe (except SE) offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Outback doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

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

Model Availability

The Santa Fe is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Outback doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

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

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

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