2019 Hyundai Santa Fe vs. 2019 Honda Passport: Compare Cars

April 24, 2019
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe first drive

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe first drive

More crossovers on the street mean that some can take a more direct road to consumers. The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe now aims straighter for comfort, while the 2019 Honda Passport heads straight to the mountains.

We’ll call it addition by subtraction.

In the case of the Passport, never burdened with a third row thanks to the bigger Pilot, Honda’s newest crossover searches for dustier trails. Same goes with the Santa Fe, which gave up three-row life to the bigger Palisade in favor of a two-row mission instead. The “Santa Fe” name has appeared on all manner of crossovers for Hyundai before, but this year applies to just one vehicle.

The 2019 Santa Fe earned a 6.7 score on our overall scale thanks to its impressive comfort and quality. The 2019 Passport gets a 5.8, but there’s a caveat: we’re still waiting for official safety data, so that score may rise.

The numbers pronounce a winner, but there’s more to the story.

MORE: Read our 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe and 2019 Honda Passport full reviews

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe first drive

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe first drive

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe first drive

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe first drive

2019 Honda Passport

2019 Honda Passport

2019 Honda Passport

2019 Honda Passport

Style and performance

The Santa Fe wins on our style scale for two reasons. First, the new crossover ditched its old, curvier look for a more upright stance with bigger shoulders—its squarer jaw complements well the Santa Fe’s newfound machismo. The grille is wider, taller, and more imposing than before; it’s in contrast to Hyundai’s smaller SUVs that wear different noses now.

Second, the 2019 Santa Fe finds contemporary style in its materials and execution inside. We start by looking up: Limited and higher trim models get an optional tan headliner with a linen feel that’s exceptional. Everywhere else, the Santa Fe rises above the norm for the class in style and execution.

The Passport’s no slouch, but it’s not memorable either. The Passport is closely related to the Pilot (more on that in a minute) and looks nearly identical from the front. Around the side and back is where the Passport separates from the Pilot, but mostly because the Passport is roughly 6 inches shorter. Inside, the Passport is comfortable and quiet although it doesn’t strike out far on its own from the Pilot.

DON'T MISS: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe first drive: Name a better deal

Under the hood is where the Honda comes into its own, where a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 is standard in all versions. It’s teamed to a 9-speed automatic that drives the front wheels, or all four wheels when equipped with AWD. The Honda engine is smooth and, despite a few hiccups from the transmission, we like it. We like the Passport’s ride, too; it’s calm and relaxed at highways speeds.

The 2019 Santa Fe relies on inline-4 power only, from one of two engines. The base engine is a 2.4-liter inline-4 that makes just 185 hp. Like the Passport, the base engine can power the front or all four wheels, but we’d hesitate to saddle it with any more weight—it’s overmatched.

The optional 2.0-liter turbo-4 is more willing, smoother with the Santa Fe’s 8-speed automatic, and better suited for all-wheel drive. It delivers 235 hp, which is more appropriate for highway passes.

Both crossovers are suited for dusty trails and bounding through adverse weather, but hardly equipped with serious off-roading hardware.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

2019 Honda Passport

2019 Honda Passport

2019 Honda Passport

2019 Honda Passport

Comfort, safety, and features

Transporting people and gear is these two’s mission anyhow, and they mostly succeed.

The Passport offers the roomier rear seat between the two crossovers—it’s the stuff of dreams for long-legged adults. Up front, the Passport is spacious and comfortable, albeit a little drab.

The Santa Fe is spacious with more than 40 inches of rear seat room, but succeeds in its materials and fit and finish. Low-cost versions of the Santa Fe punch up, and tony trims feel even better.

In the end, it’s a tie that shoppers will have to break. The Passport boasts more stretch-out space and more than 40 cubic feet of cargo room; the Santa Fe has good, but slightly smaller, space for passengers and nearly 36 cubic feet of cargo room with a more polished interior.

The Passport hasn’t yet been crashed by any major safety rating agency but features standard automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control on every model. We expect it to do well.

MUST READ: 2019 Honda Passport first drive: Five seats, just right

The IIHS called the 2019 Santa Fe a Top Safety Pick+ (in top trims with optional headlights) and all models are equipped with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors.

For roughly $26,800 to start, the Santa Fe is the cheaper among the two, but it doesn’t stay that way for long. We see the best value at the Limited trim level, which costs about $33,500 for front-wheel drive and the base engine, or about $37,000 for all-wheel drive and the uprated turbo-4. For that much, the Santa Fe offers leather upholstery, a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and premium audio. Hyundai’s standard warranty is 5 years/60,000 miles, bumper to bumper.

The Passport costs about $33,000 to start, and comparable equipment in the Passport EX-L to the Santa Fe Limited runs up the Honda’s price to nearly $40,000. The Honda’s warranty pales in comparison.

Our nod goes to the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe for its good looks and value, but both crossovers carry up to five adults in comfort. That’s good news for buyers.

Summary

6.7
Expert Rating
The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is a convincing crossover SUV with room for families and cargo.
5.8
Expert Rating
The 2019 Honda Passport makes tremendous sense for buyers who don’t need three rows of seats.

Styling

7.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe wears sharp new sheet metal and a handsome interior that gets better in top trims.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
With its truncated tail, the 2019 Honda Passport has a lot in common with the larger Pilot.
Read More

Performance

6.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Santa Fe has a new 8-speed automatic transmission, but its smooth ride is more surprising.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Honda Passport has good acceleration and a hint of dirt-road ability.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is a competitive, comfortable family hauler.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Honda Passport uses its spacious interior well.
Read More

Safety

8.0
Expert Rating
Good crash-test data and automatic emergency braking nets the 2019 Santa Fe a good score here.
Read More
The 2019 Honda Passport hasn’t been crash tested, but its feature set is promising.
Read More

Features

7.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is a good value in most trims, no options outside of trims keeps it from scoring higher.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
Skip the base 2019 Honda Passport Sport in favor of other models with more features.
Read More

Fuel Economy

4.0
Expert Rating
A new 8-speed automatic helps the 2019 Santa Fe stay competitive for fuel economy.
Read More
4.0
Expert Rating
Preliminary estimates suggest the 2019 Honda Passport will be fairly thirsty.
Read More

MSRP

from $25,750
from $31,990

Invoice

from $24,749
from $29,253

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

25
22

Engine

Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.4 L
Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.5 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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