2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Preview

  • Redesigned fourth-generation Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Repositions the nameplate to compete against 5-passenger crossovers
  • Distinctive new design, inside and out
  • 4-cylinder, turbocharged 4-cylinder, and turbodiesel 4-cylinder engine choices
  • 8-speed automatic transmission powers front or all four wheels
  • New safety, infotainment, and convenience technologies
  • Old 7-passenger Santa Fe continues on as the Santa Fe XL
  • New 2019 Santa Fe is on sale in summer 2018

Hyundai came early to the crossover SUV game, way back in 2001. That original Santa Fe was a game changer for Hyundai, and the company has spent the past couple of decades building on its success. Now Hyundai introduces a redesigned 2019 Santa Fe, the fourth generation of the automaker’s popular SUV.

In its newest incarnation, the Santa Fe is a 5-passenger vehicle, which means that it replaces the Santa Fe Sport. But there is an “occasional use” third-row seat—that means it’s a torture chamber for all but toddlers—that comes standard if you get the new turbodiesel engine option.

If you want a legit 3-row SUV, you’ll need to choose the 2019 Santa Fe XL, which is the old Santa Fe continued for another year. Or you can wait for the larger 8-passenger SUV that Hyundai will introduce next year to replace the XL.

Got that? The Santa Fe XL is the old 7-passenger version, and the Santa Fe is the new 5-passenger version. Unless you get the turbodiesel engine in the Santa Fe. Then it’s a 7-passenger version, but two of them had better be kids.

Exterior Features
The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe adheres to the company’s latest SUV design language, as seen on the subcompact Kona and fuel-cell Nexo. In other words, at a glance, you’d be hard pressed to recognize it as a Korean vehicle.

The narrow LED headlights, inset LED running light/fog lamp combination units, and an oversized grille are mighty distinctive. Creasing along the sides gives the SUV visual dynamism, and although I’m not a fan of lower body cladding, especially when it encompasses the wheel arches, the available 19-in. wheels at least fill up the space with their substantial presence.

Interior Features
Inside, the new Santa Fe offers a dual-cockpit dashboard look, designed to curve into the door panels and encompass the front passengers. Hyundai says that visibility is improved, with front quarter windows, slim windshield pillars, and a bigger greenhouse contributing to a better view out.

Upper trims offer upscale materials and contrasting color themes that hold your interest, and the available leather upholstery features contrast piping, exposed stitching, and textured surfaces.

In terms of utility, the Santa Fe fits neatly into compact CUV territory, with 36.6 cu. ft. of cargo space behind the second-row seat and 71.3 cu. ft. with the rear seats folded. If you get the turbodiesel engine, which includes a small third-row seat, those numbers shrink a bit and there is a scant 11.6 cu. ft. behind the third row.

Under the Hood
Three powertrains will be available for the 2019 Santa Fe. The base engine is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that makes 185 horsepower, while those seeking a little more vroom in their commute will want to check out the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes approximately 232 horsepower. New for 2019, Hyundai also offers a 2.2-liter turbodiesel 4- cylinder that makes about 200 horsepower and, more importantly, an estimated 320 lb.-ft. of torque.

All three engines are matched to a new 8-speed automatic transmission driving the Santa Fe’s front wheels, engineered to provide greater fuel economy.

Hyundai boasts of its optional HTRAC all-wheel-drive system, which has a variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles. Depending on what driving mode is selected, it can send the bulk of the power to the rear wheels for an athletic feel, or variably split the power for enhanced traction on slippery roads.

The company also claims that the Santa Fe’s ride and handling are better than before, and now offers an available self-leveling suspension to better manage heavy payloads and trailer towing.

The 2019 Santa Fe offers a comprehensive set of familiar Smart Sense active safety features, along with some cool new ones that we haven’t seen before.

Noteworthy among them is a rear-seat reminder and monitoring system that can sense movement in the car after the driver has left the vehicle. In such situations, the system will honk the horn, flash the lights, and send the Santa Fe’s owner a Blue Link alert via smartphone. It’s a better version of the similar system available from General Motors.

Another interesting new feature is Safe Exit Assist, which prevents you from opening the door if the system detects a motorcycle, bike, or car coming up from behind you.

Also, don’t forget that Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system offers three free years of services including automatic collision notification, emergency calling, a Car Finder function, and alerts related to teen drivers who might exceed curfew times, speed limits, and geographic boundaries.

Next-generation technology powers the new Santa Fe’s infotainment systems, which include Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

In higher trims, the display screen is larger and Blue Link services are available, along with a Qi wireless charging pad. You can also order your Santa Fe around remotely using Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Watch, or Android Wear devices. A 12-speaker Infinity premium audio system is also available, providing loads of technology to enhance your listening pleasure.

Another new feature for 2019 is an available head-up display, which projects a variety of information onto the windshield in order to help drivers to keep their eyes on the road. Hyundai says the HUD is calibrated to make the data appear that it is about 7 ft. ahead of the driver, out over the Santa Fe’s hood somewhere.

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