Hyundai Santa Fe XL vs. Hyundai Santa Fe

By

Automotive Editor

Willis Kuelthau gradated from Williams College and works as a writer for a variety of websites. In addition to cars, he loves writing about the outdoors and music. He currently resides in Philadelphia.


, Automotive Editor - December 19, 2018

In 2018, Hyundai offered two versions of their largest crossover: the Santa Fe, which seated seven, and the smaller Santa Fe Sport. Both models are back for 2019, but one has been redesigned and both get new names. The Santa Fe Sport has dropped its suffix to become the new Hyundai Santa Fe. The seven-seater is back without a redesign and the same prices as 2018, but it’s been renamed the Santa Fe XL. Confused yet? We don’t blame you. Read on to learn the differences between the two models.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Santa Fe XL & Santa Fe »

What the Santa Fe XL Gets Right

The main virtue of the Santa Fe XL is space. Unlike the Santa Fe, the XL can carry up to seven passengers. The third row works best for children, but the extra seats may be important for family buyers. Although the Santa Fe XL technically has less cargo capacity to start, that’s only because the third row takes up space. With the seats down, the XL has up to 80 cubic feet of space, which bests the new Santa Fe.

Along with its extra size, the XL is ahead on power. The Santa Fe comes with a choice of two four-cylinder engines, one turbocharged with 235 horsepower and one not with 185 hp). The Santa Fe XL, on the other hand, has a beefy 3.3-liter V6 that pumps out 290 hp.

What the Santa Fe Gets Right

The first advantage of the Santa Fe is price. The 2019 Santa Fe XL starts at $31,895 after destination. By contrast, a base-spec 2019 Santa Fe starts at just $26,545 including destination.

For the price, buyers are getting a newer vehicle. The Santa Fe gains two inches over last year’s Santa Fe Sport, yielding extra leg room in the second row. The Santa Fe also gets new engines and an eight-speed automatic transmission (compared to the six-speed in the outgoing model and the Santa Fe XL).

These modern engines (not to mention the smaller size) also help fuel economy. The Hyundai Santa Fe gets an EPA-estimated 22 miles per gallon city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 combined at its best, compared to a maximum of 18/25/21 mpg (city/highway/combined) for the Santa Fe XL.

Finally, standard features are significantly better on the Santa Fe. Rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring are standard across the range, while they’re optional on the Santa Fe XL. The XL is only available in two trims, while the Santa Fe can be customized across seven trims.

What’s in a Name?

Although the Santa Fe shares a name with the previous generation’s seven-seater, it’s a different beast. With more modern powertrains and a fresh trim structure, it’s both cheaper and more customizable than the Santa Fe XL. The Santa Fe XL is due for a full redesign for the next model year, which may bring some of the same updates to the larger vehicle.

Our Verdict: Hyundai Santa Fe

Although having a third row is a useful perk, the Hyundai Santa Fe is the better value of the two vehicles. It’s a well-equipped and value-packed crossover with a fresh and competitive range of features. We look forward to next year, when the Hyundai Santa Fe XL should get the same treatment.

Take a closer look at the Hyundai Santa Fe »

Take a closer look at the Hyundai Santa Fe XL »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis Kuelthau gradated from Williams College and works as a writer for a variety of websites. In addition to cars, he loves writing about the outdoors and music. He currently resides in Philadelphia.