The venerable Honda CR-V, now it its fourth generation, has been a solid performer for nearly two decades. The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, though relatively new, has become very popular with American consumers who seek a versatile yet economical crossover. Which is the better all-around choice?
What the Santa Fe Sport Gets Right
Sitting nearly two inches lower than in previous years, and 266 pounds lighter, the Santa Fe Sport is more crossover than SUV. Hyundai has deftly given the Sport an upgrade in the engine compartment with the option of a turbocharged 2-liter four coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission. Even with the extra power, it achieves combined fuel efficiency of 25 mpg.
Inside, the Santa Fe Sport pleases passengers with plenty of rear-seat legroom and a view of the sky through an optional panoramic sunroof. Hauling cargo? The split rear seat folds to make room for up to 71 cubic feet of your stuff. The long wheelbase and 17-inch wheels make for a smooth ride even on less-than-perfect streets.
What the CR-V Gets Right
The CR-V sticks with the basic platform that it has developed over the past six years with a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder and five-speed automatic that deliver adequate pickup and smooth shifting. A combined EPA rating of 23 mpg puts the CR-V ahead of many of its competitors in fuel economy rankings. Overall, the ride is sedan-like, and drivers will enjoy the tight turning radius.
Buyers will be delighted at standard features that include USB, Bluetooth with audio streaming and a back-up camera. The roomy 60/40 rear seat folds flat. A low cargo deck makes it easy to load and unload.
Which is the Better Choice?
The Honda CR-V receives good marks in most categories, but it is virtually the same design introduced in 2007. Meanwhile, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport provides a more modern drivetrain, better interior materials, simpler controls, and more cargo space.
Our Choice: Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Only a few years ago, you wouldn't have caught anyone recommending a Hyundai over a Honda, but times have changed -- and so have Hyundais.