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Hyundai Santa Fe vs. Tucson 2023

1. Design

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe, 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Headlights are moved up high on the hood, body sides are creased sharply, and the tail lights resemble a lightsaber.

2023 Hyundai Tucson Limited Tucson is longer, lower, and wider than the previous generation.

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Signature Series The new Signature Series trim for Santa Fe receives unique wheels and exclusive paint choices.

Hyundai's designs tend to reflect current trends, and for 2023, the "Sensuous Sportiness" design philosophy takes center stage. The Santa Fe's freshened visage will house the new Signature Series trim. Tucson and Santa Fe share a boldly chiseled appearance, but Tucson appears to take things a step further with its unique headlights, front light bar, and grille. You'll probably want to take real-life glimpses of these vehicles before choosing one over the other. Both vehicles show well in their press photos.

1.1. Exterior

The fourth-gen Hyundai Tucson takes its outside design a bit more to the extreme compared to its recent kind. Offered in standard and prolonged wheelbase editions, the latest edition changes to different styling are fairly similar in theory. The smorgasbord of triangular shapes around the vehicle, particularly concerning up front, has managed to turn many heads and not always in a great way. In a departure, Hyundai has placed the headlights at the base with the LED daytime running lights located in addition to the plug, just under the hood line. On chosen trims, the Tucson includes a Parametric Hidden Grille together with a cubical designed front end. Around back, there is lots going on with the chamfered sides, triangular taillights, and aggressive rear D pillar. The Tucson is designed to be a little more of a boxy SUV, relatively shooting for the Honda CR-V or even Toyota RAV4. This warrants the Santa Fe brand having had its inception as a conservative step away from Hyundai's customary design language. More prominent are the broad shoulders extending out of every facet of this Santa Fe, looking like the fenders from the archaic design, termed to be that utilized on older muscle cars. There's an air of thickness to it in the profile, especially in the back beginning at the D pillar and then extending through to the taillight region. The front end showcases a sculptured front grille with air duct placement and a T-shaped LED formation from the top line that's visible during the nighttime. Stepping up to the luxury spec supplies a panoramic dual panel that pops up at the push of a button; it covers about two-thirds of the entire roof length, extending over back passengers. Coming as an unsuccessful effort in aerodynamics, the Tucson's drive to achieve D-pillar windows will probably be offset with the alternative of privacy glass.

1.2. Interior

The Santa Fe has an entirely new lower console that differentiates HVAC controls and multimedia functions. The 8 or 10.25-inch display is blended into the console to give the appearance of a single screen. A terrain mode selector has been moved forward, and shift by wire buttons are now easier to reach. Phones can be charged on a charging pad that is integrated into the console, and a shift by wire electronic control module has now been implemented. The Santa Fe has an abundance of premium touches like the premium headliner and rear side window sun shades that add to its luxurious and upscale vibe.

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe commends itself for feeling comfortable and hospitable. It ranks high for its smart use of interior space that includes an expansive dashboard, good-size bins and cubbies, and a large center storage bin. Blue ambient interior lighting is meant to evoke the shimmering bright light of moonlight and is designed to create a modern and relaxing ambience. Heated and ventilated front seats are available and a choice of either blue or brown leather that implements a special treatment process that uses both trace and sponge methods to retain its natural texture while creating a soft and inviting feel.

2. Performance

The Santa Fe and the Tucson don't share a powertrain, but both models come in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid varieties. The Santa Fe's standard internal combustion engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 191 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque, good for 25 city/28 highway/26 combined mpg fuel economy in front-drive form. All-wheel drive is optional. The base engine looks a bit weak next to more powerful turbocharged rivals, but the upcoming Santa Fe Hybrid should provide a power and efficiency upgrade. It uses a 1.6-liter turbo and an electric motor for a total system output of 225 horsepower, split between returning a whopping 34 city/30 highway/32 combined mpg in traditional hybrid form and 33 miles of all-electric range in plug-in hybrid form. At the top of the powertrain lineup is the Santa Fe N, which features a 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder with 277 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. This version won't match the fuel efficiency of the 2.5 non-turbo, but it looks to be the most powerful and fun-to-drive option in the Santa Fe family. A dual-clutch transmission will be standard on the N, while all other Santa Fes use a traditional eight-speed automatic. The newly redesigned Tucson gets a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 187 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque in the standard non-hybrid powertrain, which is also offered with all-wheel drive and your choice of conventional or slightly sportier N Line appearances. Tucson Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid now run as separate models from the gas version rather than additional equipment choices, and both use a 1.6-liter turbo with an electric motor for a total system output of 227 horsepower in the HEV and 261 horsepower in the PHEV. This is a small power and efficiency bump compared to the previous-gen Tucson's hybrid, yet the smaller increase in output and larger increase in weight make the 2022 Tucson a bit pokey compared to rivals that offer the 250-plus horsepower powertrains. Still, the Tucson Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid are rated at up to 38 and 33 combined mpg. Like the Santa Fe, the Tucson will have a performance flagship in the upcoming Tucson N Line, which wasn't available at the time of publication.

2.1. Engine Options

The Santa Fe will feature a similar lineup as previous models with the base engine being a 4-cylinder and Hyundai's popular 2.0T that has been included in many of their vehicles. The 2.0T is a turbocharged 4-cylinder with direct injection, a motor that will also be included in the new Tucson set to debut in 2024 as a 2023 model. Horsepower for the base engine has not been released, but Hyundai states that the 2.0T will have 274 horsepower and 269 lb/ft of torque. The Santa Fe is expected to weigh between 3500-3800 lbs depending on 2WD or AWD. A 6-cylinder model or anything more powerful than the 2.0T has not been mentioned. Pricing is also TBA for the Santa Fe but we predict it to start in the $25-26k range and top out in the low $40k range for a fully loaded model. The Tucson has been completely redesigned and will leave its current form as a compact SUV and grow into the midsize crossover range. It also has a base 4-cylinder engine but the motor for that has not been released and power numbers for a base engine and the 2.4 L Theta 2 that is currently in the Tucson have both also not been mentioned. The new Tucson will also have a hybrid model and for the first time will also incorporate plug-in hybrid technology. A larger two-row Santa Fe and a new three-row midsize SUV called the Grandmaster will also debut in following years.

2.2. Fuel Efficiency

For those of you who feel that a 7-seater SUV is not for you but don't want to be seen in a crossover, there is the option of an all-new 2023 Hyundai Tucson XRT with a more fuel-efficient standard 187 hp/178 lb-ft 2.5L engine paired to Hyundai's new CVT transmission and HTRAC AWD system. It is expected that this powertrain will be capable of achieving better than average fuel economy for the small SUV segment, versus the 26/29 mpg ratings of the standard 2.5L engine/Tucson's 2.4L engine with AWD and the 22/25 mpg estimate of the current Santa Fe. Electric-only and plug-in hybrid Tucson models are possible in the near future as well, although Hyundai has not confirmed this for the US market. The status of the 33 mpg Tucson hybrid sold in other markets is also uncertain for now.

If you want more fuel efficiency in your Santa Fe than that, you'll need to look to the new 'Smartstream' hybrid model, which uses a 1.6-liter turbocharged four and a 44 kW (59 hp) electric motor, both of which drive the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Total system output is 227 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, netting an EPA rating of 33/30 mpg. Electric-only range for the Santa Fe hybrid is 40 miles, and it's priced from $34,135 for the Blue model, $35,385 for the midrange SEL Convenience, and $39,585 for the top Limited trim. All-wheel drive is a $1,775 upcharge on any version. For now, the hybrid is only available in SEL Convenience and Limited trim levels. A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with an estimated MPGe of 76 and an all-electric driving range of approximately 245 miles is greater than its predecessor, with a larger 13.8 kWh battery as well as a faster and more powerful motor and is expected to be better than that of rival Toyota RAV4 Prime. It's limited to the Limited trim level for now and is priced from $44,635. A less expensive and sporty hybrid Santa Fe XRT model is due to go on sale in mid-2023. This takes the standard Santa Fe hybrid powertrain and puts it in a more performance-focused package, with paddle shifters, a sport drive mode, 235/55R19 tires on alloy wheels, quad LED headlights, and a unique grille and bumpers, all for just $500 more than the equivalent non-XRT hybrid trim level. This is expected to be more fuel-efficient than the outgoing hybrid models due to having less standard equipment.

Hyundai seems to believe that no single approach to fuel efficiency is the right one, judging by the three powertrain options it offers with the Santa Fe midsize SUV for 2023. First is the carryover naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four rated at 191 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque, mated to a conventional 8-speed automatic transmission. The EPA recently revised its fuel economy numbers down for the Santa Fe's standard engine, dropping it from 25/28 mpg city/highway to 22/25 mpg.

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe offers three engine options including hybrid and plug-in hybrid/performance-focused Santa Fe XRT and new hybrid offering among the available choices.

2.3. Handling and Suspension

The 2020 Tucson uses a MacPherson strut front and a multi-link at the rear. Information on whether the new model will use this is yet unclear. Considering that this has come with the push to have a more sporty and aggressive-looking vehicle, it's treading into the area where it hinders the vehicle. An aggressive-looking SUV that is compromised in its ability to handle dirt/mud roads and unpaved surfaces, and the very kind of buyers that vehicle is marketed to. Rough and bouncy pavement experiences become far less confidence-inspiring for its driver and straight out the vehicle feels less stable and safe. Those pavement bumps may indeed transmit into the cabin of the 2021 TM Tucson if the rear suspension is not changed or optimized further. With future engines being available in this vehicle, it can be said with some amount of certainty that a Tucson N-Line or a typical buyer may find the performance engine/gearbox package to be too much for a vehicle that cannot manage its higher power levels at the wheels. An engine option of the Theta 2.5 T-GDi would be more suited to the Santa Fe.

The Santa Fe has used a McPherson strut front suspension and multi-link in the rear for a long time. With this new model, Hyundai has added that it has improved suspension for optimized front/rear balance. In a direct comparison test between the 2020 with the 2.4L engine and this new model, it was found that the 2020 was all over the road and often hard to hold a straight course from a bumpy dirt track. It feels that a rear suspension that is some amount of years old will be more 'up to date' with this new model. Make of that what you will, but performance enthusiasts and typical SUV buyers that encounter rough roads will give that particular area of the 2021 Santa Fe a positive outlook.

3. Technology and Features

The safety features on both models are as advanced as the next. The Santa Fe comes with a standard advanced driver-assistance system with features including forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control with stop and go function. Also included are parking distance warning sensors at the front and rear, rearview monitor with parking guidance, blind spot collision avoidance assist, and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance also featuring sensors and automatic braking on each occasion. The Tucson features similar safety systems. The Hyundai SmartSense safety package includes many similar features to those of the Santa Fe, and the inclusion of active high beam assist and improved remote smart parking assist function make it hard to split the two models from a safety technology standpoint. Both models focus on taking the unexpected twists and turns out of driving to put our minds at ease. In a head-to-head comparison, the Santa Fe did come out on top with a safety technology score of 89% over the 85% safety technology score of the Tucson. This hence adds to the fact that the Santa Fe is a minimum of equal value for money compared to the slightly cheaper price tag of the Tucson.

The Hyundai Santa Fe comes with a range of technological advancements to make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable. A 10.25-inch touchscreen display allows you to control a premium sound system with multiple speakers and a touch-sensitive climate control system. Music lovers will enjoy the inclusion of Apple CarPlay, which allows you to access a variety of different maps, music, messages, and other apps that are optimized for in-car use. The Santa Fe also comes with a high-resolution 12.3-inch TFT center cluster display that displays all essential driving information directly in front of the driver, making for a safer and more efficient-looking driving experience. In comparison, the Tucson offers similar features. Another 10.25-inch infotainment screen, multiple USB ports, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and steering wheel-mounted audio and phone controls provide ease of access and the ability to fully operate your device in a safe and cruiser manner.

3.1. Infotainment System

The Hyundai Santa Fe comes with a 12.3-inch full digital gauge cluster and a 10.25-inch center display with its infotainment system. The larger screen integrates control of audio, video, and navigation features. It also incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto operating systems for maximum ease of use. Sounds from the leading Infinity brand audio system can be distributed according to one's individual preferences. The high-quality sound system places speakers atop the dashboard and carries a subwoofer and amplifier to maximize sound quality. Another convenient feature includes the placement of dual Bluetooth support to link up two phones simultaneously. This is a convenient feature for those with separate work and personal phones. Moving on to the infotainment system for the Tucson, customers can choose between the standard size 8" screen or the larger 10.25" version audio and navigation display. The system itself is not much different from the Santa Fe and most features roll over. The dual Bluetooth support is a standard for all models. The sound system for the Tucson is a step down with only 8 speakers and no special features of note.

3.2. Safety Features

A myriad of standard safety features and semi-autonomous driving technology is found on the Santa Fe. For both vehicles, the NHTSA has not supplied. Headlights have not been rated; however, looking at 'good' ratings for the 2022 models, this should bode well for the 2023 models. IIHS ratings are up. However, Hyundai has claimed they both come equipped with Highway Drive Assist, Lane Following Assist, Safe Exit Assist, Blind Spot Collision. This includes Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with cyclist detection and junction turning, Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, Parking Collision Detection, and a Rear Occupant Alert system. All these features are not standard globally, and Hyundai has not yet specifically stated which features come in which markets. The Tucson is built on the third generation of its platform, and its features include Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian. Detecting when a car is turning in front or stopped on the road, it performs an emergency brake to avoid a collision or if the speed being too high, minimizes a collision. Further safety features include Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist, High Beam Assist, Driver Attention Warning, and Leading. High safety ratings can be expected from both vehicles, with HMG stating that their goal is the highest possible TSP scores for both vehicles and for the Santa Fe, a Top Safety Pick+ reward from the IIHS.

3.3. Connectivity Options

Both cars have Blue Link LTE-powered connectivity. This system allows the car to remotely start, set the climate control, and set the defroster, with a 3-year complimentary service. It also includes easy access to the car with a credit card and smartphone, car maintenance information, and voice text messaging. Santa Fe offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on every trim but the base, which is a feature not shared with Tucson. These are becoming popular features, which allow a smartphone to be mirrored to the infotainment screen, and are featured on many new cars. Santa Fe also has a 12-speaker Infinity audio system that's optional on the SEL trim, but standard on the Limited and Ultimate, while Tucson has a 7-speaker system available only on the Limited and the Ultimate. In terms of the navigation system, Santa Fe has it optional on the SE, and standard on the Limited and Ultimate. Tucson only offers it on the Limited. NavTraffic and the larger 8-inch touchscreen are features only available on the Santa Fe Ultimate. Although both cars have their fair share of connectivity options, Santa Fe offers a greater variety of more advanced features.

4. Pricing and Availability

Hyundai has not released any pricing on either model yet, nor has it said anything about availability. It's worth noting that the outgoing 2022 Santa Fe didn't receive the hybrid or plug-in hybrid models until late in the model year, while the 2022 Tucson already has plants making hybrid models. However, Hyundai has said that the new Santa Fe will get the hybrid and plug-in hybrid treatment next year as it won't be offered for the 2023 model year. This could cause some consumers to pick a 2022 Santa Fe hybrid rather than waiting for the new model, largely because they know they'll likely get some decent discounts off MSRP. At this time, Hyundai and Hyundai dealerships are offering some very attractive lease and purchase options for the Santa Fe. The new model may cost more once it's finally on sale, so it's worth considering current 2022 models. Pricing on the 2023 Santa Fe will be updated as information becomes available. The 2023 Tucson will be the second year of production for its current generation and it's not expected to see any major price increases. Currently, the cheapest 2022 Tucson you can buy is a stripped-down FWD SE model at $26,135. It's very likely that a similarly equipped 2023 model will cost a bit more. This price increase may be offset by discounts or 0% APR offers on the outgoing 2022 models, so it could be a good idea to act quickly if you're considering a Tucson. Like the Santa Fe, pricing on the 2023 Tucson will be updated as information becomes available.

4.1. Pricing Comparison

Pricing for the Santa Fe has compelled around November with the release of the 2022 Hybrid model of which there are 3 trim levels. In regards to the specific pricing of each trim level, the limited varies little with an MSRP around $34,550, and the regular and SE trims with heavyweight price cuts to $32,500 and $30,500. Sans the hybrid release, the regular Santa Fe is still attainable for consumers starting at an MSRP of $27,200 for the base model, and the compact Tucson which can be driven at base for around $21,800 is the centerpiece of the Hyundai lineup when affordability is concerned. In relevance to the 2023 models, it is uncertain whether there will be substantial changes in MSRP from the taking of this data. But the average vehicle price increase from one model year to the next is usually around $200-250, with a possibility of price increase for the Santa Fe after its new release.

The pricing segment of the 2022 and 2023 Hyundai models is where an abstract data morphs into something the consumer can really make sense of. To acquire the proper pricing structure of each vehicle, quotes were ready online, or contact with a nearby Hyundai dealer is always an option. The goal here is to get MSRP quotes on the precise model and trim level of the vehicle in question. Quotes overridden with freight charges, or local taxes are not useful for the comparison. Quotes and figures for this article were composed in November and December of 2022 so pricing is subject to change.

4.2. Trim Levels and Options

Starting out with the Santa Fe, it will have a range of five trims: SE, SEL, N Line, Limited, and Calligraphy. SE starts at $27,000 with FWD and peaks at $28,750 with AWD. Moving on to SEL, this trim level starts at $29,000 and tops off at $35,000. The N Line does not have a specific price yet, but is said to be priced in the higher $30,000 range. Limited starts at $39,000 and Calligraphy is the most expensive starting at $42,000. There are also three packages available to add onto specific trims including Convenience and Premium package ($2,350) or the Convenience with Premium and Panoramic package ($3,900). Hyundai has also implemented HTRAC AWD modes across each trim level. Transitioning to the Tucson, it offers a lower range of trims: SE, SEL, and Limited. SE starts at $25,000 with FWD and $26,250 with AWD. Next is SEL priced at $26,500 with FWD and $27,750 with AWD. The Limited is the most expensive starting at $34,500 with FWD and $35,750 with AWD. The Tucson does not have as many trim levels as the Santa Fe, but it does offer a wide selection of packages for each.

4.3. Release Date and Availability

On another side of the release date issue, this could end up being in favor of Hyundai, especially for the Tucson. It is common in the auto industry for a company to release a new model year of a vehicle many months before the expected time. In the case of the 2022 Tucson, it will become available in the summer of 2021. Typically, what ends up happening is that by early to mid-summer, most car companies will start releasing new models, making older model vehicles less valuable. This could cause potential Tucson customers to overlook the old 2022 model and go for the new and improved 2023 model, even if they're not available right away. This delay could cause the 2022 Tucsons to retain their value for this last year of the current gen and could be in favor of the Santa Fe because, as of right now, 2022 Santa Fe's will retain their value with it being the most recent model.

Due to the current state of the market, the release date for both the 2023 Santa Fe and Tucson has been delayed, and no definitive date has been set on when they will be available. The most we can gather is that they will be available sometime in the spring of 2022, and this information could change as we get further through the pandemic. Originally, it was thought that the Santa Fe would be available in the summer of 2021 and the Tucson in the fall of 2021. This further delay is due to Hyundai rethinking their strategies for the two models as they may undercut the Kona and Palisade, which would lead to some internal competition.