Change has begun for Hyundai sport utility vehicles. Included in the transformation is the 2019 Santa Fe, previously an SUV that could transport five to seven people, depending on the model chosen.
There’s no longer a third-row option with the Santa Fe. For 2019, Hyundai made the all-new Santa Fe a two-row, five-passenger, midsize crossover SUV. The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is essentially a partial redesign of last year’s Santa Fe Sport.
Note that the South Korean auto-manufacturer didn’t give up on its large three-row SUV; it arrives with considerable changes as the 2019 Santa Fe XL.
Hyundai recently unveiled the 2019 Kona, a somewhat quirky subcompact SUV with two options: a gasoline-powered model or a green version electric vehicle. The compact Tucson will be refreshed for 2019 and one year later the three-row, Hyundai Palisade receives its introduction.
We’ll critique the other SUVs at a future date and focus on the new Santa Fe. For starters, it’s a little longer and wider than the outgoing Santa Fe Sport. It’s also features a more spacious interior and has a somewhat unique exterior – Hyundai describes its new grille design as “cascading.” The Santa Fe also has added technology and many cool safety features that come standard.
There’s lots of choices to make regarding the Santa Fe, starting with its five trim levels (SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited, Ultimate). There are also two engines to chose from, the standard four cylinder or the more powerful turbocharged model.
There isn’t much praise for the base model engine. It’s a 2.4-liter, four cylinder that generates 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. It’s pokey and offers very little fun. Even though the turbo model is the preferred option, it too has negatives.
The turbo 2.0-liter, four cylinder produces 235 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, yet suffers from “turbo lag.” There’s a noticeable delay when power is needed, especially on steep hills. The turbo engine goes a mediocre 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds and only gets 20-25 mpg.
The steering and handling are fairly smooth and responsive in the Santa Fe, especially on well-paved surfaces. On rougher roads one can definitely feel the bumps. We’re fans of the standard safety features – a drowsy driving warning system, forward collision mitigation, Hyundai’s Safe Exit Assist, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The Santa Fe receives high praise for delivering an attractive dashboard design that is very user-friendly. The controls are straightforward and placed well within reach. The Santa Fe has an appealing 7-inch touchscreen and now offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as part of the standard package. The use of plastics is minimal.
2018 Hyundai Santa Fe
- Performance: 2.4-liter, four cylinder, 185 horsepower; turbocharged 2.0-liter, four cylinder, 235 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 22-29 mpg; 20-25 mpg
- Estimated price: $25,600 to $38,900
- Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles; drivetrain: 10 years/100,000 miles; roadside assistance: 5 years/unlimited corrosion: 7 years/unlimited
Front seating is comfortable and provides good leg and head room. The back seat is suitable for most adults and for three kids its fairly spacious. The cargo area is terrific, measuring 36 cubic feet behind the back seats and 71.5 with the second row folded down.
Lots of changes are taking place with Hyundai’s SUV class. That includes the redesigned Santa Fe, a suitable midsize SUV that will meet the needs of many car buyers.
Jeffrey Weidel can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel. His “Weidel on Wheels” auto reviews are featured periodically on this website at www.tahoeskiworld.com.