As Hyundai continues to unveil more and more upscale and exciting vehicles, it also has to keep upgrading existing models for them to keep up with the rapid pace of development. This year has seen the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport getting the refresh treatment, so let’s see how it now stacks up against one the big names of the compact crossover segment, the Toyota RAV4.
2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport vs Toyota RAV4
Styling: Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
In the 2017 model year, the Santa Fe Sport benefits from a new front fascia, headlights, trim panels, taillights and rear fascia–so, basically, a lot has changed at least on the surface. The Santa Fe Sport now looks a lot more like the Tucson, which itself was substantially updated just last year. The Santa Fe was already the best-looking SUV in the Hyundai range, and the latest updates have only reinforced that fact.
The Toyota RAV4 has also just been updated and refreshed, although the majority of that work has been focused on the interior in response to customer feedback. On the outside, the RAV4 isn’t going to win many beauty contests–and, if we’re honest, we might be a little flummoxed about how this design could be so popular among so many buyers.
Interior Space and Comfort: Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
The Santa Fe Sport offers a decent amount of passenger and cargo space, with 108 cu.-ft. of total passenger volume. Good leg and head room in the front and the back, a sliding second-row seat, and a flat-folding front passenger seat make the interior immensely flexible. The materials are good, if not class-leading, the seats are comfortable, and the cabin is quiet.
Toyota has worked hard to improve the RAV4, but the LE and XLE models at the lower end of the trim range can still feel a little sparse. Toyota has added some nice features such as new hard-wearing imitation leather called SofTex, but the interior of the Santa Fe Sport is still a little more welcoming.
Power and Performance: Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Two engines are available for the Santa Fe Sport: the base engine is a normally aspirated 2.4-liter inline-four that develops 185 horsepower but the better choice is probably the 2.0-liter turbo-four which puts as much as 240 horsepower at your disposal. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, which also has a manual shift mode actuated by the shift lever, and all-wheel drive is available.
Unless you want to go down the hybrid route, the only conventional engine in the RAV4 is a 2.5-liter inline four producing a relatively modest 176 horsepower. That engine comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and the powertrain can feel a little overwhelmed when trying to cope with a full load of passengers and cargo.
Fuel Economy: Toyota RAV4
The standard engine of the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is rated at 21 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined, while the more powerful 2.0-liter turbo gets as good as 20/28/23 mpg in front-drive form.
Even without going as far as the hybrid engine option, the RAV4 can offer 23 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, so this round goes to the Toyota.
Learn More about the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
The Toyota RAV4 continues to deliver impressive sales, but the refreshed 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is definitely worth considering if you don’t want to follow the crowd. The Santa Fe Sport is more powerful than the RAV4, has a better interior, has a very similar set of standard and available features, and we think it’s a better buy than the Toyota at the moment.