Budget Buy Under $10,000: Hyundai Santa Fe vs Honda CR-V

We’ve compiled the facts on the Hyundai Santa Fe and Honda CR-V to find out which one is worth your money. Find out what we think in our article here.

SUV for Under $10k?!

netcarshow.com | hondanews.com
netcarshow.com | hondanews.com

Yes, it is possible! We’re diving into a couple of great SUVs – the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Honda CR-V – to see which one gives you the best buy for less than $10k. That is a low budget for anyone these days, especially if you have looked at the post-COVID prices of cars on the used market.

And let’s face it – things aren’t getting any cheaper in other aspects of our lives.

The Hyundai Santa Fe and the Honda CR-V are SUVs that are great for families that need more than just room to sit. These are made to haul Mom, Dad, the kids, and everything that comes with them. There is also a focus on handling and drivability. The days of big, boxy vehicles are well behind us, after all.

Let’s compare these two competitors and see which one comes out on top!

Hyundai Santa Fe vs Honda CR-V Specs

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.4L I4 - carsforsale.com
2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.4L I4 - carsforsale.com

We’ll start with the Hyundai Santa Fe. For our article, we found a 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport for well under $10k. It is equipped with a 2.4L inline four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission in FWD. This engine puts out 190 horsepower with 181 lbs.-ft. of torque. It is also available with a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 264 horsepower and 269 lbs.-ft. of torque.

We looked at a 2010 Honda CR-V in the LX trim. It is an AWD SUV with a 2.4L inline four-cylinder engine and a five-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain configuration dishes out 180 horsepower and 161 lbs.-ft. of torque.

2010 Honda CR-V 2.4L I4 - hondanews.com
2010 Honda CR-V 2.4L I4 - hondanews.com

As for fuel economy, the Hyundai Santa Fe gets 20 MPG city/27 MPG highway while the Honda CR-V gets 21 MPG city/27 MPG highway.

To break all of that down, the Hyundai Santa Fe puts out 10 horsepower and 20 lbs.-ft. more than the Honda CR-V. If power is your concern, you might want to look at the Santa Fe. Honestly, you should look for a 2.0L turbocharged version if you really want to step up the pep. One thing that gives the Honda CR-V a slight edge is the AWD configuration. The AWD makes it a great vehicle for all-weather driving.

Driving and Performance

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe - netcarshow.com
2015 Hyundai Santa Fe - netcarshow.com

The Hyundai Santa Fe offers car-like handling thanks to the specially tuned suspension. It feels right at home on curvy roads which is a standup feature for an SUV. The ride is quiet and comfortable, which is especially good for parents that frequently haul their children from event to event.

The acceleration for this engine is a bit on the sluggish side (0-60 mph in 8.4 seconds), so finding a 2.0L turbo version is probably the best route to go. Doing so cuts 2 seconds off of the 0-60 mph time.

If you plan on doing some light towing, the Hyundai Santa Fe can tow up to 3,500 lbs. when properly equipped.

Looking at the Honda CR-V, we find that it also provides a quiet, comfortable ride. You’ll find that it has nimble handling and takes sharp curves without breaking a sweat. The braking is even and smooth which is unusual for Honda. Overall, it drives more like a car than a crossover SUV, and we really like that.

2010 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
2010 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com

The world’s most popular crossover isn’t without its faults, however. The ride suffers from excessive road and wind noise especially when compared to the Hyundai Santa Fe.

The other major issue is it feels rather vanilla when it comes to accelerating – taking a full 8.9 seconds to go from 0-60 mph. This is slightly slower than the already sluggish base model Hyundai Santa Fe. Pulling any steep grades while weighed down will have it huffing and puffing.

Towing must be incredibly light due to the 1,500 lbs. towing capacity. The Hyundai Santa Fe is your better choice.

So how do they compare when it comes to driving? Both give you nimble, car-like handling as well as rather anemic acceleration when compared to competitors. The Hyundai Santa Fe provides a much quieter and more comfortable ride than the Honda CR-V. It can also tow more when properly equipped and has a little more grunt when it comes to climbing inclines while fully loaded.

Comfort and Interior

The interior of the Hyundai Santa Fe gives you an overall sense of spaciousness. It is one of the nicer interiors you’ll find on an affordable crossover. Hyundai’s choice of high-quality materials is apparent, but it doesn’t venture into the “luxury” realm. It offers an intuitive infotainment touchscreen, and all switches are right where they should be.

Cargo space is a huge deal with crossover SUVs, and the Hyundai Santa Fe doesn’t disappoint. It offers 35.4 cubic feet with the seats up and 71.5 cubic feet with the rear seats down.

The interior of the Honda CR-V is equally inviting and spacious. All of the gauges and knobs are where you’d expect them to be, and the quality of the materials is good. It was definitely designed with parents in mind. The back seats are spacious, and there’s a “conversation mirror” located in the center roof console so that you can keep an eye on the kids without turning around.

When it comes to cargo space, the Honda CR-V has plenty. It offers 35.7 cubic feet of storage with the seats up and 73.0 cubic feet of space with the seats folded down. That gives it an additional 1.5 cubic feet of space over the Hyundai Santa Fe.

Trims and Features

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport - hyundainews.com
2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport - hyundainews.com

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport came in just 2 trims which are engine specific: the 2.4L inline four-cylinder and the 2.0L turbocharged inline four-cylinder. The 2.4L is available in both AWD and FWD, as is the 2.0L. The 2.0L is also available with a saddle interior.

The 2.4L Santa Fe includes 17-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, a driver’s blind-spot mirror, LED headlight accents, tinted rear windows, a rear spoiler, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 40/20/40-split-folding rear seatbacks, Bluetooth connectivity, USB/iPod integration, satellite radio, and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player.

The 2.0L trim comes with all of the same features plus automatic headlights, fog lights, heated front seats, roof rack side rails, a windshield wiper deicer, a rearview camera, an eight-way power driver seat, keyless entry/ignition, a four-way power front passenger seat, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, sliding 60/40-split rear seats, a 4.3-inch touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear window sunshades, and a blind-spot monitoring system, and rear cross-traffic alert.

2010 Honda CR-V EX-L with Navigation - hondanews.com
2010 Honda CR-V EX-L with Navigation - hondanews.com

The Honda CR-V can be found in the following trims:

LX –The base model CR-V comes with 17-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 40/20/40 sliding and reclining rear seats, a retractable center tray table, a four-speaker stereo with CD/MP3 player.

EX – The EX trim has everything that the LX offers plus rear tinted glass, a sunroof, a dual-level cargo area, steering-wheel audio controls, and a six-speaker stereo with a six-CD changer.

EX-L – Everything in the EX trim with added features such as leather upholstery, heated front seats, automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, leather upholstery, a fixed front center console, and a seven-speaker stereo with subwoofer, USB audio, and satellite radio.

EX-L with Navigation – The top trim adds navigation, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera to the list of features.

All Honda CR-V trims are offered in AWD or FWD.

Hyundai Santa Fe vs Honda CR-V: The Verdict

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe - hyundainews.com
2015 Hyundai Santa Fe - hyundainews.com

While both offer a lot of cargo space, the Honda CR-V edges out the Hyundai Santa Fe by 1.5 cubic feet. That’s really about the only thing that stands out when matched against the Santa Fe. Of course, we’re comparing features across a five-year period, so it is easy to see why Hyundai has done so well in this test. 

That means that the Hyundai Santa Fe can be found for a bit less than the Honda CR-V when it comes to price. You pay about the same price but get a vehicle that is newer and has more features. When you take into consideration the features, handling, and space, the Hyundai Santa Fe is simply the best buy.

We feel that the Honda CR-V is just too noisy and underpowered. While the Santa Fe is no powerhouse, there is at least the option of looking at an engine upgrade. With the Honda CR-V, there was no engine upgrade offered in 2010.

The choice is clear: Hyundai Santa Fe wins this competition. However, you should always check over every used car to be sure it is in top condition.

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D.L. Shepherd

D.L. Shepherd’s love of anything with an engine and everything that goes fast was kickstarted as a child who spent time at the local dragstrip and dirt track. At Bluefield University, D.L. explored creative writing with published pieces in the university's literary journal. He then worked as a Sales Rep. for Harley-Davidson and as an electronic technician. Now, he's using his expertise as an author. With an endless interest in learning about new cars and analyzing all of their specs, D.L. specializes in vehicle reviews of all kinds.

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