Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport VS 2015 Nissan Xterra Near Scottsdale, AZ

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2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

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2015 Nissan Xterra

Safety Comparison

Full-time four-wheel drive is optional on the Santa Fe Sport. Full-time four-wheel drive gives added traction for safety in all conditions, not just off-road, like the only system available on the Xterra.

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Xterra doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The Santa Fe Sport’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 Xterra doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

To help make backing safer, the Santa Fe Sport’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Xterra doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

For better protection of the passenger compartment, the Santa Fe Sport uses safety cell construction with a three-dimensional high-strength frame that surrounds the passenger compartment. It provides extra impact protection and a sturdy mounting location for door hardware and side impact beams. The Xterra uses a body-on-frame design, which has no frame members above the floor of the vehicle.

The Santa Fe Sport offers an optional 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 Xterra 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 Sport and the Xterra have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and available rearview cameras.

Warranty Comparison

The Santa Fe Sport comes with a full 5-year/60,000 mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24 hour roadside assistance. The Xterra’s 3-year/36,000 mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Hyundai’s powertrain warranty covers the Santa Fe Sport 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Nissan covers the Xterra. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Xterra ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The Santa Fe Sport’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Xterra’s (7 vs. 5 years).

Reliability Comparison

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2015 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are better in initial quality than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 26 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 20th, below the industry average.

Engine Comparison

The Santa Fe Sport 2.0T’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 3 more horsepower (264 vs. 261) than the Xterra’s 4.0 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the Santa Fe Sport gets better fuel mileage than the Xterra:

Santa Fe Sport



2.4 4 cyl./6-spd. Auto

20 city/27 hwy


2.0 turbo 4 cyl./6-spd. Auto

19 city/27 hwy

16 city/22 hwy

4.0 V6/Auto



15 city/20 hwy

4.0 V6/Manual

2.4 4 cyl./6-spd. Auto

19 city/25 hwy


2.0 turbo 4 cyl./6-spd. Auto

18 city/24 hwy

15 city/20 hwy

4.0 V6/Auto

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the Santa Fe Sport’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Xterra:

Santa Fe Sport


Front Rotors

12.6 inches

11.65 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

11.26 inches

The Santa Fe Sport stops much shorter than the Xterra:

Santa Fe Sport


70 to 0 MPH

177 feet

188 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

122 feet

130 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

142 feet

158 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels Comparison

The Santa Fe Sport’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 65 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Xterra PRO-4X 4x4’s standard 75 series tires. The Santa Fe Sport 2.0T’s tires have a lower 55 series profile than the Xterra X/S’ 70 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Santa Fe Sport has standard 17-inch wheels. Only 16-inch wheels are available on the Xterra. The Santa Fe Sport 2.0T has standard 19-inch wheels.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

For superior ride and handling, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Nissan Xterra has a solid rear axle, with a non-independent rear suspension.

The Santa Fe Sport has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Xterra base model’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The front and rear suspension of the Santa Fe Sport uses coil springs for better ride, handling and control than the Xterra, which uses leaf springs in the rear. Coil springs compress more progressively and offer more suspension travel for a smoother ride with less bottoming out.

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Santa Fe Sport is 2.4 inches wider in the front and 2.8 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Xterra.

The Santa Fe Sport handles at .75 G’s, while the Xterra 4x4 pulls only .71 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Santa Fe Sport’s turning circle is 1.5 feet tighter than the Xterra’s (35.8 feet vs. 37.3 feet).

Chassis Comparison

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 700 pounds less than the Nissan Xterra.

The Santa Fe Sport is 8.8 inches shorter in height than the Xterra, making the Santa Fe Sport much easier to wash and garage and drive (lower center of gravity).

Unibody construction makes the Santa Fe Sport’s chassis much stiffer, which contributes to better handling, and enables softer springs to be used for a better ride. Unibody construction’s stiffness also contributes to better durability and less body squeaks and rattles. The Xterra doesn’t use unibody construction, but a body-on-frame design.

The design of the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport amounts to more than styling. The Santa Fe Sport has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .34 Cd. That is significantly lower than the Xterra (.4). A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Santa Fe Sport get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space Comparison

The Santa Fe Sport has 8.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Xterra (108 vs. 99.8).

The Santa Fe Sport has .8 inches more front hip room, 1.1 inches more front shoulder room, 5 inches more rear legroom and 9.3 inches more rear hip room than the Xterra.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Santa Fe Sport’s rear seats recline. The Xterra’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The Santa Fe Sport has a larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the Xterra with its rear seat folded (71.5 vs. 65.7 cubic feet).

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Santa Fe Sport’s optional rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Xterra doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults or children, the Santa Fe Sport offers an optional power cargo door, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or optionally by just holding your hand near the emblem on the trunk, completely leaving your hands free. The Xterra doesn’t offer a power cargo door.

Ergonomics Comparison

The Santa Fe Sport offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The Xterra doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Santa Fe Sport has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The Xterra doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

When two different drivers share the Santa Fe Sport, the optional memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Xterra doesn’t offer a memory system.

The power windows standard on both the Santa Fe Sport and the Xterra have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Santa Fe Sport is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Xterra prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Santa Fe Sport’s front power windows open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Xterra’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its driver’s window opens automatically.

The Proximity Key optional on the Santa Fe Sport allows you to unlock the driver’s door, cargo door and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Nissan Xterra doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Santa Fe Sport has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Xterra doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Santa Fe Sport has standard power remote mirrors. The Xterra X doesn’t offer either a remote driver side or passenger side mirror. The driver will have to roll down the windows and reach across the car to adjust the mirrors.

The Santa Fe Sport’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. The Xterra doesn’t offer heated side mirrors.

The Santa Fe Sport’s power mirror controls are mounted on the door for easy access. The Xterra’s power mirror controls are on the dash, hidden behind the steering wheel, where they are awkward to manipulate.

Both the Santa Fe Sport and the Xterra offer available heated front seats. The Santa Fe Sport also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Xterra.

Optional air conditioned seats in the Santa Fe Sport keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The Xterra doesn’t offer air conditioned seats.

On extremely cold Winter days, the Santa Fe Sport’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Xterra doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Santa Fe Sport offers an optional center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Xterra doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The Santa Fe Sport’s optional dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Xterra doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The Santa Fe Sport’s optional automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Xterra doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

Both the Santa Fe Sport and the Xterra offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Santa Fe Sport has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Xterra doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

With standard voice command, the Santa Fe Sport offers the driver hands free control of the radio and the navigation computer by simply speaking. The Xterra doesn’t offer a voice control system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

Insurance will cost less for the Santa Fe Sport owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Santa Fe Sport with a number “8” insurance rate while the Xterra is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Santa Fe Sport is less expensive to operate than the Xterra because it costs $108 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Santa Fe Sport than the Xterra, including $140 less for a starter, $225 less for fuel injection and $420 less for a timing belt/chain.

Intellichoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport will be $1190 to $1410 less than for the Nissan Xterra.

Recommendations Comparison

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

Santa Fe Sport


Consumer Reports® Recommends



Car Book “Best Bet”



The Hyundai Santa Fe outsold the Nissan Xterra by almost nine to one during the 2015 model year.

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