Another convincing crossover reports for family duty
Hyundai seems to be on a good track these days and the all-new Santa Fe SUV is a good example as to why this is the case.
Entering its fourth generation now, the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe represents Hyundai’s’ strong SUV heritage with an all-new take on the company’s best-selling SUV.
With over 1.5 million units sold, the 2019 model is loaded with bold new looks and what Hyundai says is practical cutting edge safety technologies.
What’s in a name?
The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is a familiar name on a new body. Already at dealers, the 2019 model represents the latest effort from the South Korean manufacturer to completely re-launch its entire SUV line-up.
Along with the new Kona crossover and the fuel-cell Nexo, by 2021 there will also be a new Hyundai Tucson and a yet unannounced crossover that is smaller than the Kona. That’s six new or redesigned Hyundai SUVs in half as many years in case you’re counting!
However, specific to the Santa Fe, its revamp comes with a little confusion. The 2019 Santa Fe is effectively replacing the outgoing “Santa Fe Sport”, and the long wheelbase “Santa Fe XL” will continue for one more model year in its previous generation form until an all-new three-row SUV under a new name makes its debut for 2020.
What’s new on the outside?
It should be quite easy to tell the 2018 and 2019 Santa Fe apart. The face of the 2019 model is highlighted by Hyundai’s new signature Cascading Grille and Composite Light design comprising of LED headlights with the LED Daytime Running Lights stacked on top of the former.
This look was originally launched on the Kona, and allows the Santa Fe’s dynamic character line to run from the headlights all the way to the taillights. Hyundai says that the new face helps to characterize a powerful wide stance, reinforcing the Santa Fe’s top end status in the company’s SUV line-up.
Say what you will about it, but it is a bold look that definitely makes a statement from 100 feet away.
The 2019 Santa Fe’s sides are more curvaceous and less slab-sided than before, and the greenhouse is taller. Meanwhile, the rear has 40 per cent larger windows, and a more upright concave tailgate complete with high-tech looking LED taillights.
Given that the previous generation Santa Fe has aged well over the course of its lifespan, it should be a compliment to say that the 2019 model is a more visually appealing SUV than its predecessor.
Dimensionally, the 2019 model is roughly three inches longer both in its wheelbase and overall length, mostly as a benefit to rear seat riders. Width remains mostly unchanged.
On the inside
As before, the Santa Fe easily seats five passengers in comfort, and offers plenty of storage space throughout the cabin. For all passengers, there are smart storage features such as cubbies and shelves, a boon for long trips. Under the two-tiered dash on the passenger side, there’s a cut-out shelf for smartphone storage complete with a grippy rubber mat to hold smartphones in place.
Thanks to its 2.6 inches of extra wheelbase and 2.8 inches from bumper to bumper, rear seat riders are treated to more than 40 inches of legroom. With better bolstering, the front seats are also noticeably improved this year.
Hyundai has radically transformed the dash layout compared to the outgoing model. The dashboard has been significantly lowered, and the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system has been positioned higher up to maintain better sight lines.
To help overburdened parents, Hyundai offers a two-speed power liftgate on some models that can open handsfree. With its two rows of seats in place, the Santa Fe holds nearly 36 cubic feet of cargo—about average for its class—or more than 71 cubes with the second row folded down. There’s plenty of space between the wheel wells, and the rear hatch opening is wide and relatively low.
There are a few places where cost-cutting is still evident. Fortunately they’re in places where you probably won’t see or feel too often: hard plastics on the side of the center console and a thin pile to its cargo floor carpet.
Top trims get an attractive headliner that’s lighter and almost denim-like—it’s stylish and contributes to a lighter cabin.
Under the hood
The 185 horsepower 2.4-litre naturally aspirated 4-cylinder powerplant carries on, as does the turbocharged 235 horsepower 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine. However, what is new is a Hyundai-designed eight-speed automatic transmission that should help to lower fuel consumption.
Interestingly, although diesel engines are waning down in popularity partially due to electrification, starting in 2020, Hyundai will also offer the Santa Fe with a 2.2-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine. With 190 horsepower and a substantial 322 lb-ft (437 Nm) of torque, this engine was a surprise announcement that I am looking forward to sampling in the future.
As expected, the 2019 Santa Fe is offered with a litany of standard and optional active-safety features.
The standard package of safety features includes six airbags, forward collision warning with automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot warning with avoidance assistance.
Two new features that Hyundai is proud to announce are their new Safe Exit Assist and Rear Occupant Alert.
Safe Exit warns of a car, motorcycle, or bicycle approaching from the rear and will keep the doors locked if there is potential for stepping into traffic, an accidental door removal, or a bike-messenger clothesline. The Rear Occupants Alert uses an ultrasonic sensor in the headliner to detect and then warn the driver, with either the horn or through an app on a connected smartphone, when there is movement in the rear of the car by either a child or a pet.