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2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL vs. 2019 Kia Sorento: Which Is Better?

  • The 3-row Hyundai Santa Fe is renamed the Santa Fe XL for 2019

  • The Kia Sorento receives mild updates for 2019

  • Both vehicles ride on a similar platform and share the same engines.

Editor’s note: You may want to read more of Autotrader’s model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL review, and the 2019 Kia Sorento review.

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL and the Kia Sorento are both poised to be popular options in the family crossover segment. As Hyundai and Kia share a parent company, these two 3-row SUVs have a lot in common, but they’re also differentiated in a few key areas. Below we’ll compare the two in a number of categories to help you to understand what sets them apart from one another.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL vs. 2019 Kia Sorento basic specs

Basic Specs

Through the 2018 model year, Hyundai offered the 7-passenger Santa Fe XL as the Santa Fe, and it was sold alongside a smaller, 5-seat version of itself that was referred to as the Santa Fe Sport. Starting with the 2019 model year though, Hyundai introduced a new version of the 5-passenger Santa Fe Sport, which it renamed the Santa Fe, necessitating a name change for the 7-passenger version, which has now become the Santa Fe XL. Confused? Yeah, we are too. Blame this shakeup on the fact that the Santa Fe XL is due to be replaced in the coming months by the all-new Palisade, leaving the new Santa Fe as the 2-row SUV in the lineup, and the new Palisade as the 3-row offering.

As a result of its lame duck status, the Santa Fe XL offers simplified trim levels for 2019. Buyers can opt between the “base” SE model, which starts at $30,850, or the “loaded” Limited Ultimate, which tops out at just over $40,000 when fitted with all-wheel drive. One engine is offered — a 3.3-liter V6 putting out 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque and mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2019 Santa Fe XL earns 19 or 20 miles per gallon in combined driving, depending on which trim level you choose. See the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL models for sale near you

The Sorento has been on sale in its current generation since the 2016 model year, and receives a mild update for 2019, although you’d be hard-pressed to notice the differences at first glance. Entry-level L and LX models are offered with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine making 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque and mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. With AWD, the 4-cylinder Sorento earns 23 mpg in combined driving. Most Sorentos come equipped with the same 3.3-liter V6 found in the Santa Fe XL, making the same power, but mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. With this powertrain combined with AWD, the Sorento averages 21 mpg combined. The 2019 Kia Sorento starts at around $26,000 and reaches about $47,500 in fully-loaded SX Limited trim. See the 2019 Kia Sorento models for sale near you

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL vs. 2019 Kia Sorento dimensions


While they both ride on the same platform and offer three rows of seats, the Santa Fe XL is bigger than the Sorento. The Hyundai is 193.1 inches long, 74.2 inches wide and 66.5 inches tall, while the Kia is 187.4 inches long, 74.4 inches wide and 66.1 inches tall. Both offer 7.3 inches of ground clearance. Inside, the Santa Fe XL offers 39.9 inches of headroom and 41.3 inches of legroom up front, compared to the Sorento which offers 39.5 inches of headroom and 44.1 inches of legroom. In their second rows, the Santa Fe XL has 39.4 inches of headroom and 40.4 inches of legroom, while the Sorento has 39.3 inches of headroom and 39.4 inches of legroom. Perhaps surprisingly, the larger Santa Fe XL offers a tighter third row than the Sorento, with 35.7 inches of headroom and 30.9 inches of legroom, compared to the Sorento’s 36.3 inches of headroom and 31.7 inches of legroom.

The Santa Fe’s extra space is confined to the cargo area, as it offers 17 cu ft. of space behind the third row, while the Sorento offers only 11 cu ft. With the third row folded, the Hyundai offers 41 cu ft. to the Kia’s 39 cu ft. Fold both the third and second rows and the Santa Fe has 80 cu ft. to the Sorento’s 73 cu ft.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL  vs. 2019 Kia Sorento exterior


Both the Hyundai Santa Fe XL and the Kia Sorento wear attractive exterior styling. The Santa Fe XL has great proportions, which are enough to make it look substantial without being over the top. Hyundai’s trapezoidal grille is featured up front, while an upward sloping beltline runs along the side. A rear spoiler is standard, as are dual exhaust tips.

The Kia Sorento wears a more upscale looking exterior, but perhaps ironically, its design isn’t as cohesive as that of the Santa Fe XL. While it has an attractive greenhouse and a strong D-pillar, the Sorento’s front end is adorned by a lot of little details like pointy headlights, a textured grille, and unique light clusters in the fog light surrounds. This isn’t enough to call the vehicle unattractive though, and a strong rear end, dominated by attractive LED taillights and a muscular lower valence, makes up for any peculiarities up front.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL vs. 2019 Kia Sorento interior design

Interior Design

Inside, the Sorento’s interior is noticeably more upscale than that of the Santa Fe. This has more to do with styling elements than quality. The Sorento relies on a lot of horizontal lines and 90-degree angles, while the Santa Fe XL uses more ovals and trapezoids.

Kia products are often differentiated from their Hyundai counterparts through the offering of more upscale interior packages, and the Sorento is no different. The Sorento SX Limited offers a nappa leather interior with either black or terracotta seating surfaces and door inserts. The top-trim Sorento’s front seats even feature electronically adjustable thigh supports, a feature typically reserved for high-end luxury cars.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL vs. 2019 Kia Sorento infotainment

Technology, Features & Infotainment

The Santa Fe XL and the Sorento both offer a standard touchscreen infotainment system, but the size of the screen depends on the vehicle’s trim level. The Santa Fe XL’s SE trim comes with a 7-in screen, while the Limited Ultimate comes with an 8-in screen. Like the Hyundai, lower-end Sorentos get a 7-in screen, while upper trims get the larger 8-in screen. While they brand it differently, Hyundai and Kia share the same infotainment software, and its generally pretty intuitive to use. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on both vehicles regardless of trim level.

Both vehicles offer four 12 volt outlets. The Sorento offers three USB ports, while the Santa Fe XL offers only two, one of which is located in the third row.

Feature content for these two vehicles is pretty much identical. Both can be had with a large panoramic moonroof, a power liftgate, a 360-degree surround view camera, heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a power driver’s seat, although this is optional on the Santa Fe, but standard on the Sorento. The Santa Fe’s premium audio system is Infinity-branded, while the Sorento’s wears Harmon Kardon logos. Additionally, Hyundai and Kia both offer an app (again likely re-skinned versions of the same thing) that will allow you to remotely lock and unlock your vehicle, and start it from afar in addition to adjusting the climate control and defrosting the windshield when necessary. The system can also alert authorities in the event of an accident.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL vs. 2019 Kia Sorento reliability


Hyundai and Kia have come a long way since their earlier years in the U.S. and are now known for offering quality, dependable vehicles, so neither Sorento nor Santa Fe XL buyers have much to worry about with regard to reliability. All Hyundai and Kia products come with a 5-year/60,000-mile limited and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty — the best in the industry.


Both of these vehicles are among the safest in the industry. In crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL is named a Top Safety Pick, while the 2019 Kia Sorento is named a Top Safety Pick+.

Both also offer a very similar array of the latest driver-assistance safety features. The Sorento and Santa Fe XL are both available with adaptive cruise control featuring stop and go functionality, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic monitoring, forward-collision warning, front automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and rear parking sensors. The Sorento offers lane-keeping assist, while the Santa Fe XL does not, oddly.

Altogether, either of these vehicles is among the safest in the segment, but the Sorento has a slight edge thanks to marginally better crash test performance and for offering lane-keeping assist.

Autotrader’s Advice

These two vehicles are very similar. Both are built on the same platform, offer the same V6 engine and offer a similar assortment of active safety features. While the Santa Fe XL has more cargo room, the Sorento is positioned as a slightly higher-end vehicle, not quite luxury, but not quite mainstream, offering an available nappa leather interior and statelier styling than the Santa Fe XL inside and out. Buyers looking for value will still find a lot to love about the Santa Fe XL, especially given that good deals are likely available as dealers look to clear out stock in preparation for the arrival of the vehicle’s replacement, the all-new 2020 Palisade. Speaking of the Palisade, if you aren’t in a hurry to buy, it’s worth maybe putting off your decision in order to check out Hyundai’s new full-size flagship SUV, which is expected to improve upon both the Sorento and Santa Fe XL every area. Find a Hyundai Santa Fe XL for sale or Find a Kia Sorento for sale

Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a... Read More about Chris O'Neill

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