Hyundai’s crossover lineup is now one of the biggest in the industry, but there has been one crossover that started it all – the Santa Fe. The 2019 model year sees the introduction of the fourth-generation Santa Fe and although its name is the same there are a lot of big changes this time around.
For starters, the last generation Santa Fe Sport is now simply called the Santa Fe this time around. The three-row Santa Fe is sticking around for one more year and has been renamed the Santa Fe XL. It will disappear when the flagship 2020 Palisade arrives later this year. Hopefully that wasn’t too confusing.
Back to the 2019 Santa Fe. Compared to the outgoing Santa Fe Sport, the new Santa Fe has grown a bit, which adds more room where it counts – inside. Hyundai had planned to offer a three-row Santa Fe, but those plans died when Hyundai decided to not bring the diesel-powered Santa Fe to the US. Compared to the Santa Fe Sport, the 2019 Santa Fe ow looks more grown up with a more upscale look than before. The longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs also give it a sportier stance, while the more vertical rear glass provides a better box for all your gear.
Inside the Santa Fe feels more spacious and the dashboard’s simple layout is an improvement with all the controls placed where they should be. The 7-inch infotainment system (8-inch system is optional) doesn’t break any new ground in the segment, but it does offer the latest features that buyers want, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In front of the driver, there’s also a 3.5- or 7-inch digital screen that changes its color and info based on the driving mode you’re in: Normal, Sport or Eco.
Hyundai has also given the new Santa Fe higher quality materials and its interior is quieter than ever before.
Under the hood the 2019 Santa Fe is offered with a choice of two four-cylinder engines. The base engine is a naturally-aspirated 2.4L engine with 185 horsepower, and 178 lb-ft., but if you want more power, there’s the turbocharged 2.0L with 235-hp and 260 lb-ft. of torque. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and just like before buyers can choose between front- or all-wheel drive.
The most efficient version is the 2.4L with front-wheel drive, which is rated at 22/29 mpg, while the all-wheel drive version is rated at 21/27 mpg. The 2.0L turbo with front-wheel drive is rated at 20/25 mpg. If you want all-wheel drive with the turbo, it drops down to 19/24 mpg.
The base engine is adequate for most tasks, but if you’re looking for a sportier driving experience, you’ll want to go with the turbo. The base engine is a bit sluggish and in Normal mode the transmission is a tad slow to react. While the 2.4L engine won’t win any new friends, the Santa Fe’s new suspension makes it feel a bit light on its feet. The steering is responsive and the suspension does a good job of limiting the amount of body roll and keeping everyone comfortable.
On the safety front, the 2019 Santa Fe comes standard with a long list of safety features, like a blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, emergency braking, and the Safe Exit Assist system that prevents you from opening a door if there’s oncoming traffic.
The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is available in five trim levels: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited and Ultimate. The 2019 Santa Fe starts at $25,750.
For its fourth run, the 2019 Santa Fe has grown up a lot with a more upscale exterior, a larger interior and more features. The “Sport” part of the name is gone, which makes sense, since there isn’t much sport under the hood. Will buyers care? Probably not.