I’ve always had a crush on the Hyundai Santa Fe. It’s like I am back during those awkward early high school years. My chubby cheeks and braces have returned. I’m fat. So fat. And the Hyundai Santa Fe is the girl; you know, the valedictorian who is going to a prestigious university and will become a boss lawyer. Every guy is in love with her and I suddenly, on a whim, decide to ask her to the winter formal.
Except I don’t ever get the courage to ask her out.
This describes my relationship with the Hyundai Santa Fe. Despite my work in the automotive industry, I’ve never driven one. Never even been close. Never even been a passenger in one. I simply marvel from afar, even going to Hyundai dealerships after they are closed to look at them. I realize this is nuts – it’s a side effect of this profession – but the Santa Fe just really stands out to me.
Power & Performance
The new Santa Fe offers two engines: a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder with 185 horsepower and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 235 horsepower. Both are mated to a Hyundai-designed eight-speed automatic, a lighter more efficient transmission versus the outgoing six-speed. With the extra ratio range, expect better acceleration and fuel economy. Among the most interesting features is a multi-disc and individually-controlled hydraulic channel torque converter, said to improve responsiveness. Further, the oil pump was downsized and double ball bearings were added to minimize friction loss.
The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe comes in both front and all-wheel drive. It’s your choice.
Related: Our comprehensive test drive and review of the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe.
I admit my bias here, but a quick glance at the new Santa Fe proves just how easy it is on the eyes. Up front is Hyundai’s signature Cascading Grille, followed by a “Composite Light” design which consists of LED daytime running lamps. Hyundai says (and I laughed a bit even) the “wide stance and athletic body makes a statement from 100 feet away.” Well, yes, true but if I personally owned a Santa Fe I would never want to be a 100 feet away from it.
Again, admitting my bias – I will focus – back to our walk around.
Looking at the side, what is most noticeable is the character line that arches from the headlights to the taillights. The outside mirrors are mounted lower and further rearward and the A-pillars have decreased in size. Diamond-cut 19-inch wheels are available for a little extra flare – not exactly necessary for a family vehicle, but still nice to have.
Here is where Hyundai really dials in, providing a number of updates and luxury touches inside. The premium treatments include a layered, three-dimensional instrument panel, contrasting seat stitching, and an aircraft-inspired heads-up display. Convenience-wise, the center screen was tilted specifically to reduce glare, the window switches and grab handles were moved forward for more elbow room, and the height and length of the center armrest grew.
The area between the first and second rows was enlarged while the floor was slightly lowered – these design changes allow for less clutter and more legroom. Total interior volume, if you opt for the third row, is 150.7 cubic feet. Incidentally, the long wheelbase three-row version is renamed “Santa Fe XL” for 2019. However, that is soon to be replaced by the new Palisade.
Safety is always a priority for families and the Hyundai Smart Sense package should provide peace of mind. The system includes a number of advanced safety and driver-assist systems like forward collision warning, blind spot detection, lane keeping assist, and rear cross traffic/collision avoidance.
The 2019 Santa Fe begins at $25,500 for the front-wheel drive SE with the 2.4-liter engine; all-wheel drive SE models with the 2.4 start at $27,200. SEL and SEL Plus models will range between $27,600 and $31,500, with the Limited and Ultimate trims with the 2.4-liter running between $32,600 and $37,150.
Limited and Ultimate trims with the 2.0-liter turbo run between $34,200 and $38,800.
Each 2019 Santa Fe carries a destination and freight charge of $980.00.
Carl Anthony studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan. Before returning to school to digest math for hours on end, he simultaneously held product development and experiential marketing roles in the automotive industry.
Photos & Source: Hyundai Motor America.