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2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.

2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: SE vs SEL vs 2.0T, Limited & Limited 2.0T
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

What 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Trim Level Should you Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

The 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe is one of the most talked-about mid-size SUVs to hit the market this model year. Car gurus can't get enough of its massive list of standard features, high-quality design, and excellent warranty coverage. It is definitely a vehicle fit for the entire family and for people who like to do a little bit of off-roading.

Of course, it does have some drawbacks, and those depend on which trim level you buy. Unfortunately, those equipped with the standard engine (a 2.4-L) will find the vehicle to be somewhat underpowered. It is not the worst engine in this class, but it can feel a bit sluggish. Also, it does not help that the roof pillars are thick and decrease visibility out the side.

If you can get past those few negatives, then the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe might just be the vehicle for you. But which trim level is the best deal? Is there one that has just the right features and specs for the price? Read through this trim level comparison review to find out. In the end, we will name one Sante Fe trim level that should satisfy the average driver.

Compare the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe SE vs SEL Trims. What is the difference?

The first of the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe's five trim levels is the SE. This model is powered by a 2.4-L inline-4 cylinder engine, which generates185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. While front wheel drive comes standard, HTRAC all wheel drive is an option. Take note that this is the same case for every trim level. The engine gets paired up with a standard 8-speed automatic transmission, and idle stop and go is standard. It rides atop 17-inch alloy wheels and has a max towing capacity of 2,000 pounds.

The exterior has a decent amount of standard features. This list includes automatic projector headlights, LED accents, LED daytime running lights, a roof-mounted center high mount stop light, high beam assist, body-colored side mirrors and door handles, chrome accents on the front grille, solar control glass up front and rear privacy glass, and variable intermittent windshield wipers up front and a non-variable wiper for the rear pane of glass. The fact that LED daytime running lights and high beam assist come standard on the base trim is impressive since other vehicles in this class do not have them on their base trims.

The inside is fairly exquisite for a base model. It has standard cloth upholstery, a 6-way adjustable driver seat with 2-way power lumbar, the rear seat is 60/40 split folding and can recline. Up front, there is a 7-inch touchscreen display that lets you access infotainment features. You can integrate your smartphone via Apple CarPLay or Android Auto. Also, you get a rear view camera with parking guidance, air conditioning, a tilt nd telescoping steering wheel with multiple controls mounted onto it, smart cruise control with stop and start, a monochromatic multi-information display, power windows with up/down on the driver's window, power liftgate and door locks, remote keyless entry, and Bluetooth connectivity. On the whole, this is a generous amount for a base trim.

As far as standard safety features go, the Santa Fe is pretty well-equipped. It gets adorned with vehicle stability management, a tire pressure monitoring system, forward collision avoidance assist, driver attention warning, lane keep assist, an anti-theft system, an engine immobilizer, and hill start assist control. Of course, it is loaded with air bags and the LATCH system for securing child car seats.

So, what does the SEL add? Obviously, the mechanical specs remain the same, save for the addition of Drive Mode Select. An option does open up for 18-inch alloy wheels, but the 17-inch wheels still come standard.

On the outside of the vehicle, there are quite a few additions. The SEL gains exterior features like welcome lights on the door handles, fog lights up front, heated side mirrors, and a shark fin roof antenna. Optional features open up as well, such as a hands-free smart liftgate, roof rails, a panoramic sunroof, side glass up front that is acoustic laminated, satin chrome door handles, LED turn indicators integrated into the side mirrors, and LED taillights and fog lights.

The SEL's interior does look similar to the base trim's, as they both have cloth seats and the 7-inch touchscreen display. However, they do have a few noteworthy differences. For example, the SEL has an 8-way power-adjustable driver seat. It also possesses heated front seats, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and a 7-inch multi-information display. Optional add-ons include LED interior lights, Home Link embedded into the automatically dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, wireless device charging, dual-zone automatic climate control, the 12-speaker Infinity Premium Audio system, sunshades for the rear side windows, an 8-way power-adjustable passenger seat, and leather upholstery on the seats.

Safety features get beefed up too. The SEL gains blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, safe exit assist, and an engine immobilizer. You can also opt to add a reverse parking distance warning and ultrasonic rear occupant alert. Considering that some competitors do not add these to their second-up trim levels, this seems fairly generous of Hyundai.

Compare the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe SEL vs SEL 2.0T Trims.  What is the difference?

The SEL 2.0T is basically the SEL with one major - and delightful - difference: the powertrain. The 2.4-L 4-cylinder engine gets swapped out for a 2.0-L 4-cylinder. This more powerful engine gets 235 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This is a massive boost in power, and it makes a massive difference in terms of driving performance. Acceleration becomes a lot swifter, and the max towing capacity boost to 3,500 pounds is fantastic for those who need a capable tower. The 19-inch wheels are also a nice upgrade.

Quite a few of the SEL's optional features become standard on the SEL 2.0T. On the exterior, the SEL 2.0T gets LED headlights, fog lights, and taillights. It also gains standard side mirrors with integrated turn indicators, satin chrome door handles, acoustic laminated front glass, roof rails, and the panoramic sunroof. The hands-free smart liftgate is standard as well.

The interior also has quite a few standard features that were optional on the SEL. The standard interior features on the SEL 2.0T include leather seating, the 8-way power-adjustable passenger seat, rear seat window sunshades, the Infinity Premium Audio system, wireless charging device, dual-zone automatic climate control, the leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, the auto-dimming rearview mirror, and LED interior lighting.

The safety features get buffed up too, as reverse parking distance warning and ultrasonic rear occupant alert become standard.

Compare the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe SEL 2.0T vs Limited Trims. What is the difference?

Next up is the Limited trim level. As you can probably tell by the lack of '2.0T' in the name, this model does not have the sturdy 2.0-L engine. Instead, it has the standard 2.4-L. (Luckily, there is a 2.0T version of the limited.) Expect to find the typical mechanical features that accompany this engine. It does get 18-inch alloy wheels.

Exterior features do, of course, get a little fancier. The dark chrome trim and door handles look exquisite and make this vehicle look close to a luxury model. However, those are about all the differences that you will see on the body of the Limited trim level.

The Limited's cabin gets some notable upgrades too. Just about everything that comes on the SEL 2.0T comes on the Limited. However, the driver seat gets 4-way power lumbar support, and there are leg cushion extenders for the driver. Other standard features include ventilated front seats, memory settings for the driver seat, heated rear seats, cargo area releases for the second row of seats, an 8-inch touchscreen display with built-in navigation, a surround view monitor, blind view monitor, a head-up display, a 3-year complimentary Blue Link Guidance Package, and premium door sill plates.

Note that the safety features are the same as what you get on the SEL 2.0T. This isn't a bad thing, since the list of standard features for both vehicles is quite lengthy.

Compare the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited vs Limited 2.0T Trims.  What is the difference?

Sitting at the top of the trim level tier is the Limited 2.0T. Quite clearly, this vehicle has the 2.0T engine that gives the Santa Fe the pep and pizzazz that it needs to be a truly well-rounded automobile. So, as you can imagine, the Limited 2.0T has a lot going for; the engine is just the cherry on top.

As far as exterior features are concerned, they are all the same as what you get on the Limited. The same goes for the interior and safety features. Essentially, the engine is the big upgrade on this trim level.

One thing that might turn some drivers away from the 2.0T is that it gets a lesser fuel economy than the 2.4-L. The 2.4-L gets 25 mpg combined on the front-wheel drive and 24 mpg combined on the all-wheel drive. The 2.0T gets 23 mpg combined on the front-wheel drive and 22 mpg combined on the all wheel drive. It is not a huge hit, but it is something that buyers should be aware of before making the decision to go with a 2.0T trim.

Which Trim to Choose?

The five trim levels for the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe are all decent vehicles. They are hot sellers that car gurus and buyers alike are raving about. But, clearly, the trim levels all have some of their own differences.

The 2.0T engine really is worth the money you will spend on the SEL 2.0T or Limited 2.0T. What the decision ultimately boils down to is whether you are okay with going with the middle-of-the-road vehicle or if you crave all the extra creature comforts. If you want something borderline luxury SUV, then go with the Limited 2.0T. It has absolutely all of the bells and whistles and, of course, the spunky 2.0T engine.

The SEL 2.0T should satisfy the average buyer though. It is a trim that is well-equipped despite not being a line-topper. The amount of standard safety and infotainment features makes for a great deal, and the 2.0T engine sweetens that deal. There are plenty of creature comforts, and the ride is quite cozy too. The only downfall is that you lose a few miles per gallon with the 2.0T. But that loss is totally worth it for the power this engine puts out.

Even if you go with the base trim level, you are still getting a good vehicle. But consider spending a little more on the SEL 2.0T in order to get more.

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Compare the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Trim Levels