New Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Highlander vs Kia Sorento: verdict

Even large SUVs have to move with the times, and electrification to improve efficiency is the way forward. So, which of these seven-seat hybrids is best?...

Hyundai Santa Fe vs Kia Sorento vs Toyota Highlander rears

Our verdict

The Highlander is far from a bad car. It’s relatively fuel-efficient for something so big, it offers seating for seven, albeit with limited head room, and it should prove reliable. Sadly, one thing means it has to finish third: Toyota’s pricing. It simply isn’t a good enough car to wear a £50k price tag, and it’s also astronomically expensive for those who plan to pay using PCP finance.

Not that the Sorento and Santa Fe are exactly cheap, and we’d certainly point you towards the cheaper trim levels if you can live without such fripperies as a panoramic roof and ventilated seats. But both of the Korean cars are still vastly cheaper than the Highlander, and it’s actually the Santa Fe’s slightly better value that wins the day here. However, both cars are thoroughly good all-rounders and score similarly highly across the board.

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1st – Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Santa Fe 2021 front pan

For Costs the least to buy and run; a great seven-seater; decent to drive; loads of kit
Against No Euro NCAP safety rating; the cheaper trims make more sense
Recommended options Metallic paint (£690)

What Car? ratings 4 stars out of 5

Read our full Hyundai Santa Fe review >>

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2nd – Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento 2021 front pan

For Ridiculously well equipped; super-practical; impressive safety rating
Against Some fiddly dashboard controls; cheaper trim levels make more sense
Recommended options Metallic paint (£660)

What Car? ratings 4 stars out of 5

Read our full Kia Sorento review >>

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3rd – Toyota Highlander

Toyota Highlander 2021 front pan

For Most frugal; huge boot; Toyota’s reliability record; highest towing capacity
Against Eye-wateringly expensive; wallowy handling; limited rear head room; most cramped third-row seats
Recommended options None

What Car? ratings 3 stars out of 5

Read our full Toyota Highlander review >>

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Specifications: Hyundai Santa Fe 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid 4WD Ultimate

Hyundai Santa Fe 2021 boot badge

Engine 4cyl, 1598cc, turbo, petrol, plus electric motor
Peak power 226bhp (combined)
Peak torque 258lb ft (combined)
Gearbox 6-spd automatic
0-60mph 8.3sec
30-70mph 7.7sec
Top speed 116mph
30-0mph 8.2m
70-0mph 43.8m
Noise @ 30mph 59.8dB
Noise @ 70mph 65.5dB
Kerb weight 1842kg
Wheels/tyres (std) 235/55 R19
Fuel tank 67 litres
Official economy 38.2mpg
Test economy 32.6mpg
CO2 emissions 168g/km


Specifications: Kia Sorento 1.6 T-GDI Hybrid 4

Kia Sorento 2021 boot badge

Engine 4cyl, 1598cc, turbo, petrol, plus electric motor
Peak power 226bhp (combined)
Peak torque 258lb ft (combined)
Gearbox 6-spd automatic
0-60mph 8.6sec
30-70mph 8.1sec
Top speed 119mph
30-0mph 8.5m
70-0mph 46.4m
Noise @ 30mph 59.1dB
Noise @ 70mph 64.9dB
Kerb weight 2006kg
Wheels/tyres (std) 235/55 R19
Fuel tank 67 litres
Official economy 38.2mpg
Test economy 33.2mpg
CO2 emissions 169g/km


Specifications: Toyota Highlander 2.5 Hybrid AWD-i Excel

Toyota Highlander 2021 boot badge

Engine 4cyl, 2487cc, petrol, plus electric motor
Peak power 248bhp (combined)
Peak torque 176lb ft (petrol engine only)
Gearbox CVT automatic
0-60mph 7.7sec
30-70mph 7.5sec
Top speed 111mph
30-0mph 9.0m
70-0mph 49.6m
Noise @ 30mph 57.5dB
Noise @ 70mph 64.7dB
Kerb weight 2105kg
Wheels/tyres (std) 235/55 R19
Fuel tank 65 litres
Official economy 39.7mpg
Test economy 36.4mpg
CO2 emissions 160g/km

Weather conditions Dry


Cars pictured

Hyundai Santa Fe 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid 4WD Ultimate with Typhoon Silver metallic paint (£690)

Kia Sorento 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid 4 with Mineral Blue metallic paint (£660)

Toyota Highlander 2.5 Hybrid AWD-i Excel Premium with Moondust pearlescent paint (£925)


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