Although full-size and compact crossovers are doing seriously good business right now for their manufacturers, midsize models are where the majority of family buyers look for their next do-it-all vehicle. Putting three rows of seating into a midsize challenges designers to be clever with space so the occupants aren’t too cramped inside, so let’s take a look at how the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and the Honda Pilot match up against each other.
2017 Hyundai Santa Fe vs Honda Pilot
Family buyers who don’t care about style will probably still go for a minivan, but the overwhelming majority of them do care about it and that’s why models like these are so popular. The Santa Fe has had a mid-cycle refresh this year that’s almost entirely aesthetic, and the enhancements to the bumpers and lights have delivered a notably more contemporary look to the Hyundai.
The current Pilot has left behind the boxy shape of the past and soft corners and rounded fenders are now the order of the day. It’s a model you know is a crossover and not a truck-based SUV just by looking at it, and the balance between sheet metal and glass is just right. We’ll give the edge to the newer Hyundai, but the Honda is right behind.
The interior is all-important for the success of a vehicle like the Santa Fe, and although it’s one of the smaller models in its class, the Hyundai delivers big on interior space and versatility. The seats are better bolstered and more comfortable than previous models, noise and vibration is kept to a minimum, and the overall quality is very good, especially at SE Ultimate trim and beyond.
It’s a very similar story with the Honda Pilot, and bit of Alcantara and some brushed aluminum trim is all that stops it infringing on true luxury. There’s a little more room inside the Honda than in the Hyundai, so the fact adults can actually use the third row just gives it the edge here.
Engine and Performance
For the moment there’s just one engine in the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe, which is the 3.3-liter V-6 that develops 290 horsepower. It comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and it can be specified with either front or all-wheel drive. If you need to tow, the Santa Fe can handle as much as 5,000 pounds right out of the box. And there’s an Active Eco mode for saving a little gas too.
The Honda Pilot is also only available with a single V-6 powerplant, which is a 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 280 horsepower and can be had with a six or nine-speed automatic transmission, depending on trim level. The Pilot can also tow up to 5,000 pounds with all-wheel drive, but the lower horsepower means we give this section to the Hyundai.
Any vehicle aimed at families has to rate highly for safety and the Santa Fe certainly does just that in a very big way. The 2017 model beats its predecessor by getting the coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS, while the feds at the NHTSA give the Hyundai its full five-star rating for overall safety. The Hyundai offers automatic braking, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, and lane change assistance. The package that contains these features is available for even the base-level model.
With a wide-angle rearview camera standard on every model and EX, EX-L and Touring models also getting a right-side-view camera, the Honda is also very serious about safety. Like the Hyundai, the Pilot gets top scores from the IIHS and NHTSA, so this round also has to be a tie. The Pilot offers Honda Sensing, a package of safety features that offers similar options to the Hyundai, but that package is only available on the top three trims.
Learn More about the Hyundai Santa Fe
Honestly, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and the Honda Pilot are incredibly similar–great vehicles with stellar safety records that offer three rows of seating and snazzy styling. Very small details help the Hyundai Santa Fe nose slightly ahead of the Pilot, including a recent styling refresh and more accessible safety features. The Santa Fe is a great vehicle, and you won’t be disappointed.