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2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

The 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe is all grown up, offering its owners a handsome, sophisticated and safe 2-row, 5-passenger midsize crossover with a solid feel and impressive standard warranty. Bridging the gap between a compact and midsize SUV, the 2020 Santa Fe fits well in a segment that features the Ford Edge, the Nissan Murano and the new Honda Passport, yet also competes with compacts like the Subaru Forester, the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. From a content standpoint, the Santa Fe leads the pack, offering a host of standard driver assists, and numerous luxury features such as ventilated front seats, a Surround View monitor and a massive panoramic sunroof.

Really, if there is one word to describe this new Santa Fe, it’s “competent.” Outstanding in few areas, but underwhelming in even fewer, it goes about its job in a well-rounded but ultimately unmemorable fashion. Its handsome styling is its most characterful attribute, which for most buyers, will be a key reason for considering it over those more utilitarian compact models. If there’s one main complaint it’s that the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine isn’t more widely available across the less expensive trim levels — competitors offer similarly power engines as standard equipment or at least as options on lower trims.

In general, though, the 2020 Santa Fe should be an appealing, right-sized SUV for many with compelling value and a lengthy warranty.

What’s New for 2020?

For 2020, the entry Santa Fe SE loses a few standard safety features such as blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert (they are available on the next trim up). The sliding second-row seat is also dropped, as are the SEL Plus and Ultimate trims. The SE gains a driver blind-spot mirror, while the Limited trim adds Hyundai’s Blind View monitor. See the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Superlative safety credentials
  • Extra-comfortable back seat
  • Abundant and easy-to-use infotainment tech
  • Handsome cabin
  • Large cargo space
  • Lengthy warranty

What We Don’t

  • Engine upgrade not available on lower trims
  • Meager towing capacity
  • Modest fuel economy
  • No longer the value leader in the segment

How Much?


Fuel Economy

The 2020 Santa Fe comes standard with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. That isn’t a lot for a midsize SUV. An 8-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard on every Santa Fe regardless of engine, while all-wheel drive is an option. Fuel economy with this engine is 22 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving. AWD lowers those figures to 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined.

The Santa Fe Limited and SEL trims can be equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces a far more capable 230 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy goes down to 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined with FWD and 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined with AWD. This is comparable to several competitors (Chevrolet Blazer, Honda Passport), but lower than some others (Nissan Murano, Ford Edge).

Standard Features & Options

The 2020 Santa Fe is available in three trim levels: SE, SEL and Limited. The “2.0T” versions indicate they have the optional turbocharged engine.

Standard equipment on the SE ($26,995) includes 17-in alloy wheels, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind spot mirrors, a driver inattention warning system, a backup camera, automatic headlights and high beam control, rear privacy glass, a height-adjustable driver’s seat (includes 2-way power lumbar adjustment), a 60/40-split folding and reclining back seat, cloth upholstery, a 7-in touchscreen, four USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The SEL ($28,745) adds blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, Safe Exit Assist, fog lights, proximity entry and push-button start, an 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, upgraded gauges, satellite and HD radios, and Blue Link emergency and remote communications services.

Optional on the SEL are two packages and the 2.0T turbocharged engine. The Convenience package ($2,250) adds ultrasonic rear occupant alert, 18-in alloy wheels, a hands-free lift gate, acoustic side glass, dual-zone automatic temperature control, manual rear sunshades, a 12-speaker Infinity audio system and a wireless device charger. The Premium package ($2,750) must be ordered with the Convenience package and brings a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, LED fog lights, leather seating and an 8-way power passenger seat.

The Limited ($36,745 2.4; $38,595 2.0T) comes with ventilated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, an 115-volt outlet, an upgraded driver’s seat with thigh extension, a head-up display, a surround-view parking camera system, blind view monitor, an 8-in touchscreen and integrated navigation.

A 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is optional on the Limited and SEL and includes 19-in wheels and a trailer tow package. AWD can be added to any trim for an additional $1,700.


The 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe comes with an unmatched amount of standard safety equipment: six airbags (front, front-side, side curtain), anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, a driver inattention warning system, and a backup camera. SEL and higher trims bring even more features such as lane-keeping assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

In testing by the non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2020 Santa Fe got the best-possible rating in all crashworthiness, crash prevention and headlight categories. It was named a Top Safety Pick+.

Behind the Wheel

We’ve only had the opportunity to test the turbocharged engine available on the two range-topping trims. It is a smooth, strong engine that doesn’t behave in an overtly turbo-y fashion — those accustomed to V6-powered SUVs shouldn’t mind (or even notice) the behavior difference, and if anything, should appreciate the greater low-end power and torque. The 8-speed automatic is also reasonably quick to respond (putting it into Sport mode increases transmission and throttle response further) and impressively holds gear going up an incline. The integrated automatic stop/start system is also quite impressive with little engine noise and virtually no vibration — it took a while to detect the Santa Fe even had this fuel-saving function.

All that said, we have doubts that the standard engine will be sufficient. It has less power than compact SUVs like the Honda CR-V, the Mazda CX-5 and the Toyota RAV4, but it’s bigger and heavier. Most midsize SUV competitors come standard with something similar to the Santa Fe’s upgrade.

As for the rest of the driving experience, the 2020 Santa Fe is better-sorted over bumps and undulations than the previous generation. It’s definitely not sporty, but also clearly more competent than before and generally average for the segment. We also appreciate the standard driving modes (Normal, Sport and the aptly named Smart) that ably adjust steering effort, and throttle and transmission responses. Ride quality is good, but there’s generally less of a solid, big-SUV feel to it than other midsize models like the Honda Passport or the Ford Edge. It feels more comparable to compact models.

Inside, the Santa Fe is attractive and its materials are decent enough for the segment. Its low dash helps visibility and makes this SUV feel a bit less cumbersome to drive. The Limited’s brown leather and convincing “wood” trim that wraps behind the dash like a Jaguar’s elevates the cabin to a luxury level commensurate with its price — not all rivals can boast that. In typical Hyundai fashion, infotainment tech is abundant and easy to use.

In terms of space, the Santa Fe is excellent. The back seat is spacious and reclines to a generous degree. Cargo space is generous at 71.3 cu ft. with the seats lowered and 35.9 cu ft. with them raised, but there’s an enormous under-floor storage bin that can be used to store even more stuff.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Honda Passport— The Passport effectively lops a row of seats off the Pilot, raises the ground clearance and makes it less overtly family oriented.

2019 Kia Sorento — The Sorento is similarly sized as the Santa Fe, but offers a third-row seat and its V6 engine option is more widely available. Its value and warranty are similar.

2019 Honda CR-V — Technically in a smaller vehicle segment than the Santa Fe, but in terms of its interior space and standard engine, it should be considered.

2019 Volkswagen Tiguan — The Tiguan is similarly sized as the Santa Fe, nicely refined and Volkswagen is the only company that can better Hyundai’s basic warranty coverage.

Used Toyota Highlander — The Toyota Highlander is effectively sized in between the Santa Fe and most 3-row family crossovers. If you need a bit more space but are attracted to the Santa Fe’s price, this would be a good used car alternative.

Autotrader’s Advice

The SEL with the optional Convenience and Premium package is the sweet spot in terms of feature content and value. We’d start your test drive with one of these and see if think you can live with it. Find a Hyundai Santa Fe for sale

Our editors are here to make car buying easier. We’ve driven, reviewed and compared thousands of cars. We’ve bought and sold more than our fair share, too. And as part of the sprawling Cox Automotive group of companies, we have exclusive access to a range of valuable data and insights. Whether you’re looking for the best car, the best deal or the best buying advice, you can trust... Read More about Autotrader

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