Should I Buy a Nissan X-TRAIL or a Hyundai Santa Fe?

QUESTION

I'm trying to decide between a Nissan X-TRAIL ST-L or Ti and a Hyundai Santa Fe Elite. I'm just starting looking at a new vehicle and am leaning towards one of the above, and I need to trade in my old 2007 Mazda CX-7 Luxury. I'm not 100% on getting a new car, just in the very early stages of looking.

I've been looking at your reviews and that is how I’ve come to the short list above. I've taken both vehicles for a test drive and frankly I am torn, because they are both great.  What I like about the Nissan X-TRAIL in particular is the five cameras for around surround-car viewing. I felt the Nissan X-TRAIL had more technology features than the Hyundai Santa Fe, but as I said I really like them both.  I don’t need the seven seats as I don’t have a small family any more, but I do carry my two grandchildren around so I need the car to be able to fit two child seats in the back plus a passenger comfortably.  I'm pretty sure both vehicles would do this though as I could do this with the CX-7 and neither vehicle is smaller than that.

Thanks, Diane

ANSWER

These are two of the best SUVs currently available - choosing between them requires a fair bit of attention to detail.

Hyundai Santa Fe Video Review

Nissan X-TRAIL Video Review

HYUNDAI
SANTA FE ELITE

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe 640x360.jpg

RRP: $48,490
Seats: Seven
ANCAP Safety: Five-star
Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
Power: 145kW 3800rpm
Torque: 436Nm (1800-2500rpm)
Trans: 6sp auto
Drive: All-wheel drive (on demand)
Tyres: 235/60R18
Fuel: Diesel
Cons: 7.3 L/100km
Warranty: 5yr/unlimited km
Made in: South Korea

NISSAN
X-TRAIL ST-L

2015 Nissan X-Trail ST-L 640x360.jpg

RRP: $39,490
Seats: Five
ANCAP Safety: Five-star
Engine: 2.5-litre 4cyl petrol
Power: 126kW 6000rpm
Torque: 226Nm 4400rpm
Trans: 7sp CVT
Drive: All-wheel drive (on demand)
Tyres: 225/60R17
Fuel: 91 RON
Cons: 8.3L/100km
Warranty: 3yr/100,000km
Made in: Japan

NISSAN
X-TRAIL Ti

2015 Nissan X-Trail Ti 640x360.jpg

RRP: $45,190
Seats: Five
ANCAP Safety: Five-star
Engine: 2.5-litre 4cyl petrol
Power: 126kW 6000rpm
Torque: 226Nm 4400rpm
Trans: 7sp CVT
Drive: All-wheel drive (on demand)
Tyres: 225/60R18
Fuel: 91 RON
Cons: 8.3L/100km
Warranty: 3yr/100,000km
Made in: Japan

Note: A seven-seat version of Nissan X-TRAIL ST-L is also available. It is  (like all seven-seat Nissan X-TRAIL models) front-wheel-drive only. The price is $1900 less: RRP is $37,590.

COMPARING THE TWO

  1. Although it seems like the Hyundai Santa Fe is much more expensive than the Nissan X-TRAIL Ti - the vehicle itself is bigger, and the diesel engine accounts for much of the price difference. In practise the Santa Fe will perform much better because of the massive advantage in torque over the Nissan - especially at normal driving revs. The 1.6-litre diesel top-spec X-TRAIL is north of $46,000 (RRP) and can't even approach matching the Santa Fe's 2.2 diesel on performance (1.6 Nissan diesel is 96kW and 320Nm - but it is more fuel efficient at 5.3L/100km). 
  2. Hyundai Santa Fe is all-wheel drive in all models. This means in the wet its handling will be more predictable. It's less likely to spin the wheels or slide in the wet or on gravel, and more predictable if it does. The Nissan X-TRAIL all-wheel drive only in five-seat models. With seven seats it is only front-wheel drive (so less stable in the wet or on gravel roads).
  3. Santa Fe’s diesel engine is significantly more powerful than X-TRAIL's petrol engine, making the drive experience more competent. Santa Fe's diesel out-points Nissan's diesel as well.
  4. The surround camera view is a novelty but not especially all that useful. (When was the last time anyone crashed into the side of their vehicle?) These things add monumentally to repair cost (camera at front and one under each wing mirror). What really matters is the reversing camera - because driveway death is the second most common cause of accidental infant mortality (after drowning in the backyard pool). Worryingly, in the case of driveway death and injury, the driver is usually well known to the infant and family - in other words it is a monumental tragedy.
  5. Nissan X-TRAIL has a three-year warranty with 100,000-kilometre limit. Hyundai Santa Fe has five years with unlimited kilometres, plus capped-price servicing for the life of the vehicle and 10 years roadside assistance thrown in.
  6. The Nissan X-TRAIL is seven-seat in 2WD only. Santa Fe is AWD with seven seats across the range. There is also no diesel plus seven-seat option with the Nissan X-TRAIL.

IMAGES

NISSAN X-TRAIL - click to enlarge

HYUNDAI SANTA FE - click to enlarge

CONCLUSION

The Hyundai Santa Fe is better value and a great vehicle (best in Hyundai's range). It is hard to prosecute a case for owning the Nissan X-TRAIL over the Hyundai Santa Fe on purely objective grounds. However they are both fundamentally good vehicles in their own right. Therefore, if you prefer one over the other then your personal preferences could well be the decider. 

Many people look at this decision in the context of right and wrong decisions. I think that's way too polarised: You're looking at two right decisions, and all you need to do is choose the better of two fundamentally sound options.

I will get my trusted contacts at the brokerage to call you ASAP. They'll help you achieve the best price on your new Hyundai Santa Fe or Nissan X-TRAIL, plus help you get a good trade-in on the CX-7. They can also assist with competitive, low-rate finance if this helps.

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