Once upon a time in crossover land there was a 5-passenger Hyundai Santa Fe, which then became a 7-passenger Santa Fe, replacing the short-lived Veracruz, with the 5-passenger carrying over as the Santa Fe Sport. Well, its 4th gen time, and the new Santa Fe is back to being 5-passenger. But, enough of the numbers game. Let’s go drive it!
The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe has returned to its roots as a two-row, 5-passenger midsize, crossover utility. What was the 3-row, 7-passenger Santa Fe, is carried over mostly unchanged as the Santa Fe XL. Though, don’t blink, as it will probably soon disappear after Hyundai’s 8-seat Palisade arrives.
Regardless of name, the Santa Fe remains front-wheel-drive based, with a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter I4 for standard power. Or you can upgrade to a smaller but mightier 2.0-liter I4, aided by a turbo to output 235-horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque.
Both engines add a new 8-speed automatic transmission, and of course, optional all-wheel-drive.
Hyundai wanted a more rugged look this time around, and they mostly succeeded. It certainly looks bigger than the Sport, and the grille is much bolder. But, the wide stance and high wheel arches speak more athletic than rough-and-tumble to us. Though it is quite capable off road.
Still, Hyundai views its HTRAC all-wheel drive system as more for all-weather than all-terrain.
Our test track was snow covered, so no instrumented numbers to report. But having the chance to sample this Santa Fe in bad weather was a big plus. Through the snow, the Santa Fe proved quite capable; and when things really got slippery we could feel the rear tires kick in to help out. Still, the 19-inch tire and wheel package on our Ultimate-trimmed test car is probably not your best option if lots of snowy driving is in your plans.
On dry pavement, power feels better than most rivals, both to pass and off the line. We estimate a 0-60 of under eight seconds. And things are certainly quieter in the powertrain department than before.
Indeed, Hyundai made a big attempt to quiet things down everywhere, with additional cabin sound deadening materials, and more foam fillers and insulators in body panels.
Active safety systems have been brought up to date too; and in our automatic braking test, the Santa Fe performed flawlessly at speeds up to 20 miles-per-hour.
Most cabin measurements are up slightly over the previous Santa Fe Sport. Front seats are well padded and comfy; so further improvement here too. But the added room is most noticeable in the rear, where passengers get added hip and leg room.
There are two new rear seat safety features. Safe Exit Assist prevents rear door opening if traffic is detected. And, on most trims, Hyundai’s Rear Occupant Alert helps to make sure that no one is left behind.
Cargo space is also up a tick, to 35.9 cubic-ft., maxing out at a healthy 71.3 with the rear seats folded.
Indeed, like the Ford Edge, the new Santa Fe straddles the compact/midsize line; looking like a compact outside, yet offering midsize-like room inside.
Ultimate trim pushes things into what we considered luxury territory not too long ago; with heated and ventilated leather seats, heated steering wheel, Head Up Display, wireless charging, Quantum Logic surround sound, and navigation.
The 8.0-inch touchscreen for navigation and the like, is mounted up on the dash. It may not be aesthetically pleasing, but you can’t argue with its functionality.
Finally, A-pillars are slimmer, and there’s more glass to see through, to improve visibility all around.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel-drive 2.0-liter turbo are 19-City, 24-Highway, and 21-Combined.
Santa Fe pricing starts at just $26,545, but escalates rapidly, topping out at $38,145 for our Ultimate 2.0T. All-wheel-drive adds just $1,700 more.
Santa Fe… Santa Fe Sport…, doesn’t really matter what you call it, Hyundai’s midsize crossover has always delivered the goods with tremendous value. And while prices may not be as drastically low as they were when the original Santa Fe arrived for 2001, this far more sophisticated 2019 edition is still a check-book friendly family delight.
Engine: 2.0 liter
Torque: 260 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: Under 8 seconds
EPA: 19 mpg city / 24 mpg highway