2021 Toyota Highlander vs. 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

2021 Toyota Highlander vs. 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe at Stampede Toyota in Calgary, Alberta

While the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe might be a closer match, stylistically, to the 2021 Toyota RAV4, we believe that every Toyota model can compete with the best of the competition. A bit bigger, a bit more rugged, and packed with more power and features, the 2021 Toyota Highlander can easily step outside its weight class for a bout with Hyundai’s flagship SUV. Learn how the Highlander and Santa Fe stack up against each other with Calgary’s Stampede Toyota!

Design & Features

Toyota Highlander Design

We’ve sung the praises of the rugged 2021 Toyota Highlander many times before (like here, here, and here), but it bears repeating: this is one capable, and utility-packed SUV. Without veering too far into being a ridiculous size, the Highlander finds a way to offer a choice between exceptional cargo space or comfort—to the tune of 7 or 8 seats. Add in standard LED headlamps, an available power sliding/tilting or panoramic moonroof, and the available hands-free power liftgate, and you’ll be able to handle whatever life throws at you—even if your hands are literally full at the moment.

Hyundai Santa Fe Design

165 mm is all that separates the length of the Highlander from that of the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe, along with less than 100 mm in the wheelbase, however the Santa Fe simply doesn’t do as much with that space. Available heated rear seats might make your passengers happy in the Santa Fe (spoiler alert, they’re available for the Highlander too), but that won’t help when there isn’t enough room for the entire crew. The Santa Fe offers a variety of standard niceties, like a heated steering wheel, however when you’re driving a sport utility vehicle you tend to prize the utility aspect more than the luxury one—though that’s not to say the Highlander isn’t luxurious itself. At the end of the day, the 2021 Santa Fe is a sharp looking SUV but it might be a case of more style than substance.

Specifications:2021 Toyota Highlander LE2021 Hyundai Santa Fe EX
Length (mm/in)4,950 / 194.95,000 / 196.9
Width (mm/in)1,930 / 76.01,990 / 78.3
Height (mm/in)1,730 / 68.11,759 / 69.3
Wheelbase (mm/in)2,850 / 112.22,900 / 114.2
Ground Clearance (mm/in)204 / 8.0203 / 8.0

Performance & Capability

Here’s where the 2021 Highlander really runs off with the competition: the performance aspect. The base Santa Fe comes with a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine capable of producing 191 horses and 181 lb-ft of torque. However, the slightly larger Highlander offers a substantially larger engine along with even more power. A 3.5-litre V6 with Dual Variable Valve Timing technology gives the Highlander an edge of more than 100 horsepower, as well as a potent 263 lb-ft of torque. Both are matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission, though Toyota’s Direct Shift technology adds the benefit of more precision whether you’re tackling Calgary’s mercurial weather, towing, or simply getting away on a mountain retreat.

Specifications:2021 Toyota Highlander2021 Hyundai Santa Fe EX
Engine3.5L V6 Dual Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence2.5L GDI+MPI 4-cylinder
Torque (lb-ft)263181
Transmission8-speed direct shift automatic8-speed automatic


Both vehicles offer a substantial array of advanced driver assistance and safety features, with the Santa Fe trotting out the usual suspects: Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Blind Spot Detection, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The Highlander ups the ante though, thanks to its distinction as the first Toyota in Canada to come with Toyota Safety Sense™ 2.5+, the most comprehensive safety suite you’ll find on the road today—oh yeah, and it’s standard on every Highlander trim.


Toyota Highlander vs. Hyundai Santa Fe Verdict

While the difference in engine power could be expected, thanks to the Highlander’s larger size, it easily beats out Hyundai’s flagship SUV thanks to its greater selection of advanced safety features. Not only that, but for an SUV that’s only marginally larger, it offers substantially more utility in terms of both passenger and cargo space. While it comes in at a higher MSRP, if you’re looking at the Hyundai Santa Fe you might want to reconsider and go for an SUV that offers more space, power, and safety like the 2021 Highlander.

If you’d like to learn more about the 2021 Toyota Highlander, or to book a test drive, simply fill out the form below. If the Highlander doesn’t seem like the right model for you, we’d be happy to look at any other vehicles in our extensive new and pre-owned inventory. In addition to hosting a huge variety of vehicles at our Calgary dealership, we handle all things automotive from financing, to service, parts, accessories, and more. Simply stop by Calgary’s Stampede Toyota for all your Toyota needs!

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