Hyundai is squarely in a hot market with its redesigned 2019 Santa Fe for those wanting a sporty looking, upscale mid-size SUV.
The solidly built 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe comes in various trim levels starting at $25,500 with front-drive and a non-turbocharged engine and ending at $38,800 with a turbocharged engine and AWD. Engines are a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 185 horsepower and a turbo 2-liter four-cylinder with 235 horsepower and considerably more torque. (260 foot-pounds versus 178 foot-pounds). They come with front-drive or all-wheel drive. All have a new eight-speed (up from six-speed) automatic transmission.
The redesigned Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T, with its aggressive front end, lower body cladding and bolder fenders may be just the ticket for those who might otherwise need a roomy large sedan or an SUV such as the rival Ford Edge, Nissan Murano or Subaru Outback.
One rather unusual feature is the location of the slim, powerful headlights—under the large running lights that look like headlights.
Comfort and Convenience
The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is roomy. Unlike some mid-size SUVs, it has especially good rear-seat space in comfortable sliding and reclining rear seats, although the center of the back seat is too hard for long-distance comfort and best left to the fold-down armrest with cupholders. There’s plenty of room for tall occupants, and the Santa Fe’s belt line has been lowered to prevent shorter occupants from having a closed-in feel. The roofline gets the way of good rear visibility. However, large power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators compensate.
The wide-opening doors have Satin Chrome handles and large storage pockets. The backlit gauges can be easily read, and there are clearly marked auxiliary manual dashboard controls for such things as radio volume, temperature control, heated front seats and heated leather-covered steering wheel.
The power hatch opens nicely and reveals a large cargo area (with a hidden shallow under-floor area). Cargo room is 35.9 cubic feet versus 71.3 cubic feet with the 60/40 split rear seat backs folded forward. The larger seat back, though, takes some muscle to flip forward.
The Ultimate has very comfortable large front 8-way power seats, soft-touch surfaces and lots of leather, although there’s some hard but not cheap-looking plastic. The infotainment system is easy to use, and the luxury loaded interior has features including dual automatic temperature control, push-button start, wireless device charging and a full-color heads-up display, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, an Infinity Premium Audio system and a panoramic sunroof.
Advanced safety features in the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe include forward-collision assistance assist, blind-spot collision avoidance assist, reverse camera, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist. lane-keeping assist, smart cruise control with stop & go, nifty surround view monitor, parking distance warning and a rear occupant alert in case you accidentally leave, say, a kid or pet in the back seat when you leave the car.
I tested the front-drive Santa Fe Ultimate with the 2.0-liter turbo engine, a combination that delivers an estimated 20 in the city and 25 on highways. Pop the hood and the compact turbo engine looks almost lost in the nicely laid-out engine engine compartment.
The 185-horsepower engine is just adequate because this Hyundai tops 4,000 pounds. And there’s some brief off-the-line hesitation with the turbo engine because of turbo lag. There’s also momentary front-end “judder” if a driver hits the gas pedal hard when starting off on wet roads. However, acceleration is lively with the turbo four once it gets moving. It does manage good passing times on highways. The eight-speed automatic has a manual-shift feature that works smoothly and effectively with either engine. It sometimes got a bit confused during certain maneuvers with the turbo engine.
The steering is a bit heavy but it has nice feel and is accurate. The brakes bite early with a linear acton, and the suspension has been upgraded with such things as a faster steering ratio, stiffer torsion bar and vertically oriented rear shock absorbers. The Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T tracks nicely at high speeds with its 19-inch alloy wheels, but it’s no sports machine, exhibiting some sway when driven quickly through expressway on-ramps.
A driver can push a console button to select Normal, Smart or Sport driving modes. Normal is best for regular driving, while Sport adjusts the steering effort and engine and transmission control logic for enhanced driving performance. Sport is best for quick rural driving, but hurts fuel economy a bit and can be somewhat uncomfortable for urban drives.
Estimated fuel economy ranges from 22 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on highways with the base engine and front-drive to 19 and 24 with the turbo engine and AWD.
My test Santa FE was a great highway cruiser. It has a very smooth ride, comfortable driving position, extra-comfortable seats and an incredibly quiet interior, despite being surrounded by a noisy world.
The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T starts at $38,145 for a front-wheel drive model.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T
|Base MSRP:||$26,545 (base model)|
|Price as Tested:||$38,145|
|Engine:||2.0-liter turbocharged I-4|
|Drivetrain (Layout):||Front engine, front-wheel drive (AWD available)|
|Horsepower:||235 hp @ 6,000 RPM|
|Torque:||260 lb-ft @ 1,450 – 3,500 RPM|
|Suspension:||Front: MacPherson strut with coil springs, gas-pressurized shock absorbers, advanced valving and stabilizer bar
Rear: Multi-link with gas shock absorber and stabilizer bar w/ self-leveling
|Brakes:||Front: 320mm x 28mm ventilated front discs
Rear: 305mm x 11mm solid rear discs
|Tires:||Hankook Dynapro HP2 P235/60 R18 all-seasons|
|Fuel capacity:||18.8 gallons|
|Fuel economy (EPA):||20 City / 25 Highway / 22 Combined mpg|
|Turning Circle:||37.5 feet|
|Curb Weight:||3,942 pounds|