The Ultimate Showdown: Hyundai Tucson vs Santa Fe

Hyundai is aiming for all-electric cars soon, but for now, let’s talk about their gas-powered SUVs: the Tucson and Santa Fe.

They’re both great family cars with cool features and lots of safety stuff.

An image of Hyundai Tucson and Santa - Fe
Hyundai Tucson Vs Santa Head-to-Head
Photo: Cars.usnews.com

We’ll compare them to see which one suits you better.

Choosing between them used to be easy. If you needed space, you’d go for the bigger Santa Fe.

But now, the smaller Tucson has gotten bigger inside and looks cooler too.

And the Santa Fe isn’t too expensive either, making it a good option for small SUV buyers.

Let’s see the differences and comparisons between the two

Pricing

As of now, the 2022 Hyundai Tucson SE has a starting price of $27,095, inclusive of destination charges.

If you desire a power liftgate, the 2022 Tucson SEL equipped with the Convenience package is priced at $30,995.

Similarly, the 2022 Santa Fe begins at $28,995 for its base model and rises to $32,445 with the inclusion of its Convenience package, which includes a power liftgate and other enhancements.

When considering the price disparity between these models over a payment period of three or five years, the variation isn’t substantial.

Both SUVs offer a complimentary maintenance plan covering three years or 36,000 miles, along with Hyundai’s standard five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty.

Reliability

A J.D. Power predicted reliability score of 91-100 is considered the Best, 81-90 is Great, 70-80 is Average, and 0-69 is Fair and considered below average.

Both SUVs come with fantastic warranty coverage that extends to five years or 60,000 miles for basic coverage and 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage.

Interior Space

The most significant practical improvement in Tucson from its previous generation to the current model lies in its interior.

An image showing the interior space of a Tucson and Santa Fe
Tucson vs. Santa Fe Interior Photo: Dealers.com

Despite being 6.1 inches shorter overall, it offers notably more space, boasting 38.7 cubic feet of cargo room compared to Santa Fe’s 36.4 cubic feet.

While the Santa Fe provides slightly more interior space for passengers, the Tucson impresses with numerous storage compartments, including one below the center stack and a deep compartment under the central armrest.

Despite its larger size, the Santa Fe doesn’t necessarily offer a more comfortable seating experience.

Both SUVs feature two rows of seats with spacious and accommodating cabins, providing ample head- and legroom for tall adults in the front seats.

Although the Santa Fe offers more space in the back, its seats lack the comfort found in the Tucson.

The Tucson’s rear bench provides superior support and padding, creating a more enjoyable seating experience on longer journeys.

Additionally, the top trims of both SUVs offer luxurious upgrades like leather upholstery and heated and ventilated front seats.

Cargo Space

An image of a Tucson Cargo Space
Tucson Cargo space.
Photo: dealers.com

Surprisingly, the Tucson boasts more cargo space than anticipated.

It offers 38.7 cubic feet behind the rear bench and expands to 74.8 cubic feet when the back seats are folded flat. In contrast, Santa Fe provides 36.4 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear bench upright, expanding to 72.1 cubic feet when the seats are folded down.

Both models feature a manual liftgate as standard and are available with an optional hands-free power liftgate.

Style

An image showing the Tucson and Santa Fe styles.
Tuscon and Santa Fe Stylish design
Photo:Motortrend.com

Styling is subjective, but we find Tucson’s design effortlessly cool.

Its sharp lines are easily recognizable from a distance, setting it apart from many SUVs.

On the other hand, Santa Fe’s front end seems overly busy to us, with a more conventional design.

Inside, the dash layouts of both SUVs differ significantly.

While both offer a digital gauge cluster on higher-trim models, the Santa Fe’s central touchscreen is mounted at the top of the dash.

Both SUVs feature infotainment screens measuring 8.0 and 10.3 inches, but the Tucson’s sleek controls give it a futuristic look, although the Santa Fe’s knobs and buttons are more user-friendly.

Hyundai has provided surprisingly upscale interior finishes and materials for both SUVs.

However, the Tucson’s cabin edges closer to luxury levels, feeling more upscale than its price suggests.

While cloth upholstery comes standard, the Tucson impresses at any trim level, with higher trims featuring leather upholstery.

Yet, this doesn’t mean the Santa Fe lacks a premium feel.

Hyundai’s mid-cycle refresh has elevated its cabin, making it appear and feel more expensive.

Top trims of the Santa Fe even offer high-end features like Nappa leather upholstery.

Acceleration

The Tucson is equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, generating 187 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque.

Although slightly less powerful than the Santa Fe’s 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, the Tucson’s lighter weight allows for slightly better acceleration.

However, neither SUV provides an exhilarating driving experience.

The Santa Fe’s base engine lacks the necessary power, while the Tucson’s engine struggles at highway speeds.

For those seeking more power, buyers have the option to upgrade the Santa Fe’s engine to a turbocharged four-cylinder, producing 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque.

However, this option is only available in the top two trims.

Fuel Economy

The Tucson boasts superior fuel efficiency compared to the Santa Fe, both in city and highway driving.

With front-wheel drive, it achieves 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

Opting for all-wheel drive slightly decreases these numbers to 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

In contrast, Santa Fe’s base engine delivers 25 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive, and 22 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway with all-wheel drive.

Upgrading to the turbo powertrain alters these figures to 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive and 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with all-wheel drive.

Handling

The Tucson’s smaller size provides an edge in handling, delivering a smooth ride even over uneven surfaces. Its steering feels direct and confident, enhancing the overall driving experience.

On the other hand, Santa Fe drivers also enjoy good maneuverability, with solid brake feel and confident steering.

However, the larger size of the Santa Fe means it may struggle slightly over rough and broken pavement, leading to a jittery ride at times.

Safety

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe earned top ratings, receiving a Good score in various crash tests by the IIHS and a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA.

As of now, the 2024 Tucson hasn’t undergone full crash testing by either organization.

Therefore, it’s difficult to declare a winner in this category.

Both SUVs offer numerous driver-assistance features, including a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and driver-attention monitoring.

Hyundai Santa Fe and Tucson Pros and Cons

An infographic showing the Pros and cons of santa fe and Tucson
Hyundai Tucson and Santa Fe Pros and Cons

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Pros:
– Offers a midsize presence at a reasonable price point
– Spacious interior provides ample room for passengers
– Good features-per-dollar value proposition

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Cons:
– Front styling elements may seem overly fussy
– Could improve fuel efficiency
– Unrefined transmission in the 2.5 turbo variant

2023 Hyundai Tucson Pros:
– Boasts slicker styling compared to rivals
– Lower base price makes it an attractive option
– Offers a spacious cargo area

2023 Hyundai Tucson Cons:
– The touchscreen mounted lower on the dash might be less ergonomic
– Base powertrain may feel sluggish
– Some controls may be more challenging to use

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