When descending a steep, off-road slope, the Santa Fe’s standard Downhill Brake Control allows you to creep down safely. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer Downhill Brake Control.
The Santa Fe Limited’s optional blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.
The Santa Fe has a standard Blue Link, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions, remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.
Both the Santa Fe and the Pathfinder have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and available all wheel drive.
For its top level performance in frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Santa Fe as a “Top Pick,” a rating only granted to 147 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Pathfinder has not been tested, yet.
The Santa Fe comes with a full 5 year/60,000 mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck. The Pathfinder’s 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.
The Santa Fe comes with free roadside assistance for 5 years unlimited miles. Hyundai will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Nissan doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Pathfinder.
Hyundai’s powertrain warranty covers the Santa Fe 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Nissan covers the Pathfinder. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Pathfinder ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.
The Santa Fe’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Pathfinder’s (7 vs. 5 years).
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai 9th in reliability, above the industry average. With 27 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 18th.
The Santa Fe’s 3.3 DOHC V6 produces 30 more horsepower (290 vs. 260) and 12 lbs.-ft. more torque (252 vs. 240) than the Pathfinder’s 3.5 DOHC V6.
The Santa Fe GLS’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Pathfinder’s standard 65 series tires.
The Santa Fe has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Pathfinder’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.
For better maneuverability, the Santa Fe’s turning circle is 1.8 feet tighter than the Pathfinder’s (36.9 feet vs. 38.7 feet).
The Hyundai Santa Fe may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 to 350 pounds less than the Nissan Pathfinder.
The Santa Fe is 4.1 inches shorter than the Pathfinder, making the Santa Fe easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The Santa Fe has .8 inches more third row legroom and 2.1 inches more third row hip room than the Pathfinder.
The Santa Fe’s cargo area provides more volume than the Pathfinder.
Second Seat Folded
80 cubic feet
79.8 cubic feet
The Santa Fe has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.