2020 Kia Telluride vs. 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Both the Telluride and Santa Fe XL have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Telluride 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 Santa Fe XL’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 Telluride are reminded to check the back seat when a sensor determines the back seat is occupied. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

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

Both the Telluride and the Santa Fe XL have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee 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 and around view monitors.


To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Telluride has a standard 800-amp battery. The Santa Fe XL’s 660-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Hyundai vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Hyundai is ranked third.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Hyundai vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 5 places higher in reliability than Hyundai.


The Telluride’s 3.8 DOHC V6 produces 1 more horsepower (291 vs. 290) and 10 lbs.-ft. more torque (262 vs. 252) than the Santa Fe XL’s 3.3 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Telluride gets better fuel mileage than the Santa Fe XL:




3.8 DOHC V6

20 city/26 hwy


3.8 DOHC V6

19 city/24 hwy

Santa Fe XL


3.3 DOHC V6

18 city/25 hwy

Ultimate 3.3 DOHC V6

18 city/23 hwy


3.3 DOHC V6

18 city/24 hwy

Ultimate 3.3 DOHC V6

17 city/22 hwy


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

Brakes and Stopping

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


Santa Fe XL

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

12 inches

11.9 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Telluride has larger tires than the Santa Fe XL (245/60R18 vs. 235/60R18).

The Telluride S/SX’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Santa Fe XL Ultimate’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Telluride S/SX has standard 20-inch wheels. The Santa Fe XL’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Telluride’s wheelbase is 4 inches longer than on the Santa Fe XL (114.2 inches vs. 110.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Telluride is 3.1 inches wider in the front and 3.1 inches wider in the rear than on the Santa Fe XL.

Passenger Space

The Telluride has standard seating for 8 passengers; the Santa Fe XL can only carry 7.

The Telluride has 8.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Santa Fe XL (155 vs. 146.6).

The Telluride has 1 inch more front headroom, 2.8 inches more front legroom, 2.2 inches more front hip room, 2.2 inches more front shoulder room, .8 inches more rear headroom, 2 inches more rear legroom, 2.6 inches more rear hip room, 2.9 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.4 inches more third row headroom, .5 inches more third row legroom and 1.4 inches more third row shoulder room than the Santa Fe XL.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Telluride’s middle and third row seats recline. The Santa Fe XL’s third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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


Santa Fe XL

Behind Third Seat

21 cubic feet

13.5 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

46 cubic feet

40.9 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

87 cubic feet

80 cubic feet

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


Santa Fe XL

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)



Max Width



Min Width






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


The Telluride offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Telluride’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Santa Fe XL’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

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

When the Telluride SX is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Santa Fe XL’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Telluride EX/SX has standard front air-conditioned seats and the Telluride SX offers them optionally in the second row. This keeps the passengers comfortable and takes the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats for the second row.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Kia Telluride EX/SX has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) for the front seat. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

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

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