If you’re interested in a family-friendly midsize SUV, you might have the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe and the 2016 Kia Sorento on your shopping list. Both offer 3-row seating, reasonable pricing and the ultimate warranty — an impressive 5 years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection. Both were also recently updated.
So which is better? And which one should you get? We’ve created a close comparison of both models to help you decide, but first let’s see what’s new with the Sorento and the Santa Fe for the 2016 model year.
2016 Kia Sorento
The Sorento is fully redesigned for the 2016 model year. It offers fresh styling, a new interior, new features and revised powertrains compared to the outgoing model. See all 2016 Kia Sorento models available near you
2016 Hyundai Santa Fe
The Santa Fe is unchanged for 2016. Its last major overhaul was in 2013, when it was fully redesigned and separated into two models: the larger 3-row Santa Fe (which we’re comparing here) and the smaller 2-row Santa Fe Sport. See all 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe models available near you
Although the reliability experts at J.D. Power have not yet officially rated the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento, results of the firm’s Vehicle Dependability Study — which groups entire brands, not models — suggests that Kia and Hyundai are about even in terms of reliability and near the industry average.
Perhaps more importantly, both models offer the best new-car warranty in the industry, touting 5 years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection. As a result, these two models are tied in terms of dependability, at least until we can get specific reliability figures for both SUVs.
The Santa Fe offers one engine: a 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6, which is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. It returns up to 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive or 18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy with optional all-wheel drive.
Meanwhile, the Sorento offers three engines. Most drivers will skip the base-level powertrain, but it’s a 185-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that returns up to 21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy. Drivers who want more power can upgrade to a 240-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which boasts up to 20 mpg city/24 mpg hwy. Finally, shoppers interested in still more power can upgrade to a 290-hp 3.3-liter V6 — the same engine used by the Santa Fe, as Kia and Hyundai are corporate partners. With this engine, the Sorento returns 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy.
The result? The Sorento offers better fuel economy than the Santa Fe, even when it uses the exact same engine as the midsize Hyundai.
The full-size Hyundai Santa Fe has not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). But the smaller Sport model, with which it shares many components, earned a perfect 5-star overall rating. Likewise, the Sorento earned a perfect 5-star overall score from NHTSA. Meanwhile, the Santa Fe has not yet endured enough crash-testing from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to qualify for the Top Safety Pick designation, but the Sorento did earn this distinction from the nonprofit firm.
As for safety features, neither the Sorento nor the Santa Fe is class-leading, although the Sorento has an advantage over its Hyundai rival. The Kia offers lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning, neither of which is offered in the Santa Fe. It’s the same story with a multi-angle backup camera. In fact, the only cutting-edge safety features offered by the Santa Fe are a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert, both of which you can also get in the Sorento.
Our take: Thanks to its newer design and more IIHS crash tests to go on, along with a larger variety of safety features, the Sorento offers a better choice for shoppers who especially prioritize safety
As you might have guessed from our Safety section, the Kia Sorento has an advantage over the Santa Fe in terms of technology, largely due to its newer design that incorporates more of today’s latest features. Not only does the Sorento offer more safety technology than the Santa Fe, but it also touts a few other modern high-tech touches that you can’t get in the Santa Fe.
These include adaptive cruise control, power-folding mirrors and Clari-Fi digital music-improvement technology. As a result, we think most technophiles will probably prefer the 2016 Sorento over the 2016 Santa Fe.
With a starting price of around $26,500 with shipping, there’s no doubt the Sorento is cheaper than the base-level Santa Fe, which starts around $31,500. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Base-level Sorento models come standard with 2-row seating and 4-cylinder power, while all Santa Fe models have a V6 and three rows of seats. Equip your Sorento like a Santa Fe, and you’re looking at a base price that’s closer to $29,700 with shipping.
Still, however, that makes the Kia a better value than the Hyundai, especially since the Sorento has more available features.
Although the 2016 Kia Sorento and the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe both have many benefits, choosing between them is easy: You’ll want the Kia. It offers more safety equipment and more features for a lower price, and it provides more engine options, too.
With that said, the upcoming 2017 Santa Fe looks to correct some of the ills of today’s model. Hyundai says it will add many of the features that the 2016 Santa Fe is missing, a move that will make the vehicle a lot more appealing. But for now, we’d go with the Sorento.