Comparing the RAV4 vs. Santa Fe Sport

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Comparing the RAV4 vs. Santa Fe Sport

Hyundai and Toyota have been neck-and-neck for a couple of years now, putting rival vehicles up against each other with designs that are clearly meant to compete for the same audience. The competition has been good for both brands, with Hyundai adding innovations to lines like its Santa Fe compact utility vehicle and Toyota pushing itself to maximize its fuel efficiency and value. Now, in the 2016 version of their annual dance, it’s time to take a look at the results of the Santa Fe Sport vs. RAV4 Comparison.

Power, Performance, Efficiency

The three key areas where most SUV and CUV owners look for their vehicles to lead are in power, overall performance and handling, and fuel efficiency. The RAV4 vs. Santa Fe match-up is close in all three respects, with the RAV4 leading in fuel efficiency and handling but the Hyundai taking a lead when it comes to raw engine power and the ability to apply force to a situation.

When deciding which features are most important, it is important to remember what you are looking for in a vehicle and why, because while engine power is important, neither vehicle is exactly part of a class that places a high premium on it when you compare that feature to handling or to fuel costs. The one reason the more efficient engine really recommends itself is when it comes to the vehicle’s ability to get traction in a tough situation.

MSRP vs. Five-Year Cost of Ownership

This year’s Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has a lower sticker price than comparably equipped RAV4 models, which makes it look like Hyundai might be starting to gain an edge over Toyota when it comes to value, but don’t be mistaken—the real value comes in the vehicle that can hold its value, and that is something the Toyota does very well. In fact, it does it so well that despite being more expensive to purchase, it is the less expensive car to own when you look at the long term.


The choice is close but clear. If you are looking for the best value in the compact utility vehicle class, then Toyota continues to dominate in ways that Hyundai just can’t quite catch up with, no matter how close it gets. For those who are less cost-conscious, the decision could come down to taste, but when you view a vehicle as an investment, then there is a clear winner, and it is the RAV4.

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