There are two different classes of vehicle represented here: the 2WD SUV in the Santa Fe and the mid-size station wagon or crossover SUV in the Kia Rondo. The difference between these two classes may seem slight, but the crossover is on a totally different platform than the SUV, meaning it will handle differently as well as have a different type of gas mileage.
The Hyundai Santa Fe provides a new line of powertrains that help save fuel, yet are still stronger and more efficient on a platform that is a nice size for families and has great maneuverability. The bargain-basement price of the Rondo helps make up for the fact that the looks are not quite compelling but it does have an unbelievably spacious interior.
While the two vehicles are technically in different classes, you can’t tell from the fuel economy numbers. The 19 mpg city / 26 mpg highway that the Santa Fe delivers surprisingly is not dissimilar from the 20 mpg city / 27 mpg highway provided by the Kia Rondo. However, the big difference is in the size of the fuel tank: 19.8 gallons for the Santa Fe versus a measly 15.9 gallons for the Kia Rondo.
There is a significant price difference between the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Kia Rondo – with the Rondo definitely coming out on the good end of that analysis. The nearly $5,000 difference in invoice price may or may not be worth it when you consider that both vehicles offer a fair amount of options and have comparable amounts of space and gas mileage. However, the styling of the Santa Fe is admittedly a fair bit more attractive which could make up some of the difference. The Rondo lacks even basic technology tools such as Bluetooth connectivity.
When you look at everything else together, what the challenge really comes down to is which vehicle is safer for your family to ride in. Unfortunately, there is a very easy answer to that question: the Santa Fe. Where the Santa Fe comes in with a majority of full-star ratings, the Kia Rondo has only a 70% overall safety rating versus the Santa Fe’s 84% rating. If you are looking for a solid and inexpensive crossover-type vehicle offering, check out the Rondo; otherwise, look around for a Santa Fe.