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Safe, spacious, and stylish, midsize SUVs are fantastic options for families. Whether just starting your journey as a family or packing in a party of five, SUV’s are the tried and true solution to taking the team on the road. 

The 2020 Toyota Highlander and 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe are often marketed to the same audience. However, these SUVs offer entirely different packages. Both vehicles are well-equipped and deliver excellent performance options, but one stands out as the clear choice for families.

Sometimes less is more

The 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe facing away, looking toward the sunset
Rear view of the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe | Photo via Hyundai

Families often have to tote around sporting equipment, luggage, and their kids’ friends. That’s why three-row SUVs are so tempting. Many shoppers may lean in favor of the Toyota Highlander, as it seats eight while the Hyundai Santa Fe only seats five. But most drivers will find the 2020 Santa Fe better suits their needs.

Hyundai discontinued its three-row Santa Fe XL model for 2020, leaving car shoppers with only a two-row option. However, the two-row Santa Fe remains a great family SUV, regardless.

The Highlander has a cramped third row that’s best suited for small children or adults whom you have a grudge against. Meanwhile, the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe provides a more spacious option, allowing your family to spread out.

Versatility is a critical attribute for an SUV, and flexible seating is a significant selling point for the family market.

The Hyundai Santa Fe offers nearly 36 cubic feet of cargo space behind its rear seats. In comparison, the Toyota Highlander provides a very-limited 16 cubic feet of storage room behind its rear bench. Notably, when lowering all back rows of seating, the 2020 Highlander wins out in storage space with 13 more cubic feet than the 2020 Santa Fe offers.

The 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe offers superior ownership perks

Families already have enough bills on their plate, so they don’t need additional vehicle costs to worry about. That’s why every little manufacturer incentive can go a long way when deciding between vehicles.

Hyundai offers some of the best benefits in the business. Its vehicles come with an industry-leading 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty. Meanwhile, Toyota pairs its models with a five-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.

Complimentary maintenance programs also help owners save a few hundred bucks every year. Thankfully, both auto manufacturers offer these incentives, so you won’t be left in the dust no matter which model you choose. However, Hyundai’s program is a little more generous. It provides free scheduled maintenance for up to three years and 36,000 miles, while Toyota offers it for just two years and 25,000 miles.

Space equals value in the midsize SUV market


Avoid The Toyota Highlander, It’s Overpriced

U.S. News & World Report ranked the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe at the top of the midsize SUV class. While the 2020 Toyota Highlander also scored well, it suffers from being in a highly competitive segment, and U.S. News placed it in the middle of the pack.

Families will get a host of fun technologies and smart safety systems no matter which vehicle they choose. Both SUVs come standard with a similar suite of driver-assistance systems, including automatic emergency braking, lane change alert, and more. Blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert are available on both models. Additionally, the EPA estimates similar fuel-economy ratings for rival SUVs, with the Santa Fe achieving up to 25 MPG city/highway combined and the Highlander getting up to 24 MPG combined.

Those who require more than five seats would still do well to look elsewhere than the 2020 Toyota Highlander with its confined third row. For everyone else, the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe provides more value.