Hyundai debuts 2019 Santa Fe in Seoul, complete with new design language and a surprising powertrain
Did you know that the Hyundai Santa Fe has been around for nearly 18 years now? Over time, it’s gotten larger, picked up some features, and received more distinctive styling.
Now, they’re at it again with the all-new 2019 Santa Fe. And once again, Hyundai’s changed its styling language and bestowed it with new features. However, this time, the 2019 Santa Fe actually shrank in most dimensions compared to the previous model. Its 5.3 inches shorter in length, 0.2 inches wider, and 0.8 inches shorter with a 1.3 inch shorter wheelbase than the 2018 model.
In its third generation, the Santa Fe effectively split into two models. If you wanted a full-bore, seven passenger family hauler, you went with the ordinary Santa Fe. If you wanted to save a bit of space and only carry five passengers, there was the Santa Fe Sport. Now, Hyundai’s dropped the “Sport” name, but in the process, they’ve added a surprising powertrain option for our market.
Two carry-over powertrains and…a diesel?
The 2019 Santa Fe brings two carryover engines. At the base level, there’s the 2.4-liter four-cylinder, which makes 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. The second engine on offer is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. At 232 horsepower, the most powerful gasoline engine available at launch is 8 horsepower down on the outgoing Santa Fe. Hyundai did not specifically mention torque figures on the gasoline engines, but we’d expect the 2.0-liter to put out a similar amount of torque to the current unit’s 260 lb-ft. Although, they may have tuned it for more torque, at the cost of that eight horsepower.
Most surprising – at least in the U.S. market – is the addition of a 2.2-liter turbodiesel to the Santa Fe lineup. Why is it surprising? Demand for diesels has waned in recent years. And on top of that, the fuel is currently (and long has been) more expensive than gasoline. Now, Korean and European markets have seen the 2.2-liter diesel in the Santa Fe in previous generations, but this is the first time we’re getting it. This unit puts out 200 horsepower, but it wins the torque game with 320 lb-ft available at 1,750 RPM.
All engines are mated to a new eight-speed transmission. Notably absent from the powertrain lineup is the 3.3-liter V-6 engine. At 290 horsepower, it was the most powerful engine available, yet it was also the thirstiest. Hyundai did not specifically state that engine would carry over to the new model, so it looks like the 2.0-liter turbo will be the most powerful variant at launch.
No More Santa Fe Sport
Hyundai’s 2019 Santa Fe gets rid of a separate “model” for its five-passenger variant. Instead, they’re going to offer a long-wheelbase variant which accommodates eight passengers in the near future. In the meantime, Hyundai is renaming the current seven-passenger Santa Fe the “Santa Fe XL”. The new, fourth-generation 2019 Santa Fe will have an occasional-use third row on diesel models, with one-touch folding rear seats for children to easily access the third row. Note Hyundai specifically mentioned “children” in there – so there won’t be much space to ferry more than four of your adult friends around.
Odds are, Hyundai will launch its larger, eight-row SUV alongside its Kia sibling, which we only know presently as the Telluride concept. Hyundai did mention this larger variant will have a different name than the Santa Fe.
I had mentioned in a previous post that the 2019 Santa Fe featured “Kona-esque” styling, and that still rings true in the production photos. These photos show the Korean domestic market model, but we’d expect it to look the same in our market. There’s no mistaking the cascading grille – now a signature of the brand. The headlight setup also resembles the smaller Kona crossover, although its a bit more subdued here.
In side profile, the 2019 Santa Fe is a bit more snub-nosed than the previous model, whose front end fell away more gently. Hyundai’s designers also ditched the sloping shoulder line that followed along the door handles for a higher, straight shoulder line.
You’re not exactly left wanting for technology in the current Santa Fe. However, as is the way with new generation models, the 2019 Santa Fe brings more to the table. Building upon the driver assistance tech to which you’ve already become accustomed, 2019 adds “Safe Exit Assist”. Think of it as a smart child lock. It’s a feature that temporarily bars passengers from opening the doors if the car detects a vehicle approaching alongside the Santa Fe. It alerts the driver when it detects a rearward object approaching the cars, and keeps the doors from opening until it passes.
The 2019 Santa Fe also sports the brand’s AVN 5.0 navigation system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support. Optionally, you can get Qi wireless charging for your Android devices (with an adapter) or iPhones 8 or later. Hyundai’s also added an available Heads-Up Display that projects an 8.5-inch image onto the windshield. As with the current Santa Fe, you can also equip the 2019 model with Hyundai’s Blue Link system.
The 2019 Santa Fe is available this summer
Hyundai will debut the 2019 Santa Fe at the Geneva Auto Show early next month. After that, it will start hitting dealer lots this summer. Along with its eight-passenger cousin, six more new or re-engineered Hyundai crossovers will debut by 2020.
There’s no word on pricing right now, but we’ll break that news when it becomes available closer to launch. Stay tuned to TFLcar.com for more updates!