Should I Buy a Lexus RX 270 or a Hyundai Santa Fe?

2014 Lexus RX 270 has a four-year warranty and great quality control, but really is out-classed by Santa Fe and Sorento


Hi John, I really enjoy your website and youtube clips. I am often left laughing at the very 'real' comments you make in relation to the various makes and models (in particular the Holen Cruze, Captiva & VW Products). I rent a lot of cars for my work and ive had everything - the Golf is a great car, but wouldn't want to live through the problems they have.

I have had three Mazda3s and now I have a 2011 Mazda6. It needs to be replaced and I was thinking a demo Lexus RX270, new Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander or the new Kia Sorento Platinum. I've driven all three, and they are all excellent. I like the Lexus for its badge, quality and I believe it will be a good long term car (hold onto for five years) - but I need to make a decision with my head, Do you think the Lexus would be cheap enough to maintain? Or do you think its just better to go with the Hyundai or Kia?

I'd say you would also suggest the Mazda CX-5 GT or CX-5 Akera. I've looked at these and they're good vehicles but I am over Mazdas - they have become extremely mainstream and to rub salt into the wounds I haven't had a trouble-free experience with my Mazda6. It's been costly in repairs and maintenance and recently (since out of warranty) has had issues with suspension, shockies and a range of other issues I just didn't get with the Mazda3.

Thanks kindly, Sam

2015 Kia Sorento raises the bar on Kia's largest SUV in a similar way to the recent 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe upgrade - but in Kia's case, Sorento's visual appeal is w-a-y up too


Thank you very much for the kind words mate. Laughing out loud is a good result. (Humour is hard to manufacture, but easy to consume…) Agreed on Mazda - very mainstream. (Hateful i-Stop functionality, too.) Pity your Mazda6 ownership experience has been second-rate. I've enjoyed driving them on test, for evaluation - but that's only a week-at-a-time taste test, not an ownership experience...

Because there's one of me, and 300-odd cars for sale - each one offered in six to eight variants, with a further two or three powertrains - it's hard for me to review everything. Complexity in ranges is high - so I tend to road test and review only the really good cars that I can actually recommend to people. I do ‘warning’ pieces on Holden Cruze and Volkswagen ranges without road-tests, which are pointless because these cars are duds to own no matter how well they drive.

Which is to say: The Hyundai Santa Fe is a really good thing - especially with this 2015 update. About the only thing missing, which would be of benefit to long-distance drivers, is adaptive cruise control.

Hyundai Santa Fe - best vehicle in the Hyundai range, and even better now following the recent 2015 

On Lexus: The RX270 really doesn’t go well enough - and it’s still too girly, despite vestigial toughening up in the latest model iteration. It's a base model, whereas the other two are top-of-the-line. Maintenance cost on the Lexus won’t be as bad as M-B, BMW or Audi, and Lexus's four-year warranty is a step up as well.

However, Hyundai just introduced capped-price servicing for the life of the vehicle, there’s a year’s more warranty than Lexus, 10yrs roadside assistance is thrown in, etc. The reason I recommend the Santa Fe is because it is such a compelling consumer choice. And a damn good vehicle.

Of course, Kia has just introduced an outstanding seven-year warranty with unlimited kilometres. When Kia updates the Sorento in 2015 (see image above) it might well be as compelling (or more) because of the new 7yr warranty. The Sorento and Santa Fe are twins under the skin, because Kia and Hyundai are essentially different brands owned by the same company. (They are joined at the hip in South Korea, but the brands themselves compete fiercely here.

Bottom line: Right now I'd buy the Hyundai Santa Fe every time. But the new Sorento is on its way, and all bets are off when it arrives - it could well be equal to, or better than, the 2015 Santa Fe.