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Many consumers are looking for two-row SUVs that are affordable while being stylish, modern, and capable. Hyundai and Mazda have made a name for themselves by building models that perfectly fit this description. The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe and Mazda CX-5 are nicely equipped and handle themselves well, and they're likely going to be very successful in the upcoming year. This overview will compare the two models against each other, and hopefully, a potential customer will be able to use this information to help him/her decide which SUV would be the more strategic pick.
Both the Santa Fe and CX-5 have two available engines. With either model, there's a standard engine that can do just fine, even if it doesn't offer the most spirited ride. Alternatively, there are turbocharged engines that can take the excitement level up a notch. People who love being behind the wheel will probably want to get turbo models, not necessarily because they need them but more so because they simply want to have some fun while driving.
In the Hyundai Santa Fe, the two choices both have four cylinders and displacements of 2.5 liters. The standard engine can generate 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, and the turbocharged engine comes with 277 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. Either way, there could be either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The standard engine uses an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode called SHIFTRONIC, and the turbo engine is paired with an eight-speed dual clutch transmission. The dual clutch transmission adds to the sportier feel, and it also has the SHIFTRONIC manual shift mode.
In the Mazda, the choices are either a 187-horsepower, 2.5-liter engine or a 250-horsepower, 2.5-liter turbocharged engine. Torque in the standard version is 186 pound-feet, and it's increased to 320 pound-feet when the engine has a turbocharger. These numbers are very similar to what the Santa Fe is capable of, and Mazda customers can choose from front-wheel or all-wheel drivetrains as well. Regardless of engine choice, the CX-5 uses a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. It has a Sport mode in case people want to make the engine more responsive.
The two SUVs can both be hooked up to trailers if necessary. The towing capacity on the Mazda CX-5 is 2,000 pounds whether it has the more advanced engine or the standard one. This is the same amount of towing capacity that a standard Hyundai Santa Fe has. If the Santa Fe is equipped with the more powerful engine, it can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Fuel efficiency can be an important factor to consider when purchasing a new vehicle. These two models do pretty well in this area, though they're not going to match the efficiency of hybrids, of course. The Santa Fe can earn up to 25 miles per gallon in the city and 28 miles per gallon on the highway. The CX-5 can also achieve up to 25 miles per gallon in the city. On the highway, it does a little better, having an estimated fuel economy of 31 miles per gallon.
Hyundai is working on a hybrid version of the Santa Fe. At the time that this overview was written, it has not yet become available. When it does hit the market, it's sure to be an intriguing choice amongst drivers who would be happy to save some money at the gas station.
These vehicles feel fairly sporty and athletic, and the companies have done well in designing them to be user-friendly and easy to drive in a variety of situations. They both have an ideal size from the perspective of the average customer. They have two comfortable rows of seating and spacious cargo areas, so they can be perfect for everything from commuting or taking the crew on road trips.
From hood to tail, the Hyundai Santa Fe measures 188.4 inches, and it's about 75 inches wide. The Mazda CX-5 is almost ten inches shorter, with an overall length of 179.1 inches. It's not as wide either, with a width of 72.5 inches.
Given this information, it's no surprise that the Santa Fe is the one that's going to have more interior space. It has 44.1 inches of leg room in the front and 41.7 inches of leg room in the second row. Behind the seating area, the cargo space has a volume of 36.4 cubic feet. Cargo capacity can be expanded to more than 72 cubic feet by folding down the rear seats.
Leg room is 41 inches and 39.6 inches in the first and second rows of the Mazda CX-5. This is still a generous amount. The bigger difference between the dimensions of the two SUVs is evident when examining cargo space. The Mazda CX-5 has a rear cargo area that has a volume of 30.8 cubic feet, and when all the seats have been lowered, cargo capacity is almost 60 cubic feet. This may be a matter that some customers can't overlook, while others may be totally satisfied with this amount of room.
Hyundai and Mazda have both given these SUVs plenty of technology. Drivers and passengers will appreciate that the Santa Fe and CX-5 come standard with Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. The Santa Fe starts out with an eight-inch touchscreen, and its higher trims have 10.25-inch touchscreens with navigation. Every CX-5 has a 10.25-inch screen, and its higher trims, too, have integrated navigation. Another similarity is that both models have at least two USB ports in the front and two in the back, so no one will be competing to charge their mobile devices.
One key difference is that only the CX-5 can have SiriusXM. However, the CX-5 doesn't have available wireless charging like the Santa Fe does. Further, the Santa Fe has a Rear Seat Quiet Mode that can be activated if passengers in the back don't want to listen to the same things that the driver has chosen.
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The Santa Fe and CX-5 can attract attention from modern consumers who want their next vehicles to have all kinds of driver-assist systems. First of all, these models have a long list of standard features, to include multiple airbags, the LATCH system, and tire pressure monitoring. They also have an impressive array of monitoring and mitigation systems that can really make a positive difference when it comes to staying safe on the roads.
In the Hyundai Santa Fe, there are sensors that can detect when the SUV is veering out of a lane or approaching another vehicle too quickly. If either situation occurs, an alert would be issued. If necessary, the Santa Fe could correct its steering or hit the brakes in an effort to avoid an accident. The forward collision warning and emergency braking systems can sense the presence of pedestrians and cyclists in addition to other vehicles.
All of these systems are found in the CX-5, with the exception of the cyclist detection feature. The CX-5 has two other standard driver-assist systems as well. They are blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, and they can act as an extra pair of eyes for the driver. In the Santa Fe, the lower trims don't have these monitoring systems. When they are included in the higher trims of the Hyundai, though, they also come with mitigation systems. That means that the Santa Fe can go a step further than just warning a driver about a vehicle in his/her blind spot or a car that's crossing behind it. The Santa Fe could hit the brakes or override the steering so the driver wouldn't accidentally hit another vehicle.
Another piece of technology that both these vehicles have is called adaptive cruise control. It can be engaged when driving on the highway or a relatively open stretch of road. It's similar to regular cruise control in that it can maintain a set speed, but it can do more. When the vehicle in front slows down, it allows the SUV to slow down appropriately.
On the high end of the trim spectrum, there could be some bonus features that can really be appreciated. The Santa Fe can have a 360-degree camera, a monitor system that shows the driver a live feed of what vehicles are in the blind spot, and parking assist. With parking assist, the driver can actually get out of the vehicle, press a button, and let the vehicle handle everything else. In the CX-5, there is also a 360-degree camera, and there is reverse automatic braking. The Mazda does have parking sensors, but they can only notify drivers when they're getting too close to objects. It's certainly useful, but it's far from being as futuristic as the parking assist system in the Hyundai.
Which Has the Best Value
Hyundai starts off the Santa Fe lineup with the SE trim. It costs $26,850, and it's followed by the SEL, which costs $28,650. The other trims are the Limited, Calligraphy 2.5T AWD, and the Calligraphy. Those prices are $38,600, $42,100, and $42,300, respectively. It's nice that there's such a wide range in prices so that budget-friendly customers and those with refined tastes can all be accommodated.
With the CX-5, the Sport is the base model, and it costs only $25,370. The Touring ($27,110), Carbon Edition ($28,955), Carbon Edition Turbo ($30,760), and Grand Touring ($30,560) are also reasonably priced. The Grand Touring Reserve ($35,385) and Signature ($37,505) are found at the top of the lineup. Mazda has decided to do something similar to Hyundai by offering a variety of trims.
Note that with either model, the somewhat bigger jumps in price are associated with getting upgraded with turbocharged engines. This is definitely going to be worth it some customers.
When looking at trim-to-trim matchups, it's a pretty tight race. Previously, this overview described the differences in safety and technology, and those are going to be some of the biggest factors to take into account. Besides those high-tech features, there are many of the same elements in both models. For example, they both start with cloth seats, and their mid-level trims have leather upholstery and heated steering wheels. Their top-level trims have heated and ventilated front seats as well as heated rear seats. One difference is that the Santa Fe has an available panoramic moonroof as opposed to the more traditional moonroof that the CX-5 has.
Which is Better?
When deciding between the Santa Fe and CX-5, price could be the most important concern. If this is true for a particular customer, then the CX-5 would have the edge. The CX-5 is equally matched to the Santa Fe in many ways, but it is marginally more affordable.
However, the CX-5 isn't as large as the Santa Fe is. While the Mazda SUV has plenty of second-row leg room, it has significantly less cargo space than the Santa Fe does. This could be a concern for potential customers who plan on packing a variety of gear into their cabins.
The Santa Fe will appeal to people who want bigger SUVs. Plus, its turbo model has a greater towing capacity than the CX-5 does. The Santa Fe will also attract attention because of its high-tech components that make so many things more convenient, not to mention safer.
There is a final element that might play a role in the deciding process. The style of the Mazda CX-5 is a bit more sophisticated than that of the Santa Fe. Its exterior lines are aerodynamic, and overall, the vehicle looks really sleek. The Santa Fe certainly looks great, but it's more boxy than the CX-5 is. In a way, the Santa Fe is more of a traditional SUV while the CX-5 has more of a crossover feel.