Hyundai's full-size crossover Santa Fe returns for a bigger share of the SUV pie with a major redesign, new interiors, engines, and driving aids.
Hyundai got a lukewarm response to the Santa Fe when it was launched worldwide quite a few years ago. Here was a car that was large, yet looked a bit misshapen due to its curvy design. The redesigned Fluidic Santa Fe was no different with its curvier design than the older generation. To make matters worse, smaller crossovers from the same company also went up on sale, which looked like scaled-down versions of the biggest Hyundai SUV. This drew away exclusivity from the car, resulting in mediocre sales.
For 2019 model year, Hyundai has plugged all chinks in the Santa Fe's armor and turned the car into what it should always have been. Gone are the curves and swooping lines; the 2019 Santa Fe gets a new exterior that looks more SUV than before. It is wider, taller and longer than the outgoing model. The glass house is also substantially bigger, affording improved visibility, despite the tall beltline which is higher than before. It gets Hyundai's new signature cascading grille and 19-inch alloys. The front fascia gives an impression (not false by any means) of width to the Santa Fe.
Inside, there is a new three-dimensional instrument panel and head-up display. The infotainment screen has been repositioned to reduce glare. The upholstery and choice of materials laid out in the cabin are top notch and provide a premium, upmarket feel. Hyundai has tweaked the Santa Fe's suspension, especially at the rear to offer a smoother ride. There is also an optional load-leveling suspension system so that the car maintains a consistent ride height despite load and towing conditions. It also gets all-wheel drive with drive modes to distribute torque strategically for improved performance.
The 2019 Santa Fe gets a choice of three engines, beginning with a 2.4-liter four-pot petrol good for 185 hp. There is also a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 232 hp. For the first time ever, Hyundai is plonking a diesel mill under the Santa Fe's hood, a 2.2-liter four-cylinder producing 200 hp and 434 Nm.
There is a host of driver assistance and safety systems on board the Santa Fe, making it much more technologically advanced than the outgoing model. The car boasts of features like lane-keeping assist, stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, and an around-view monitor among others. There is also a Rear Seat Occupant Alert system that lets you know if the kid or doggo sitting behind is getting restless. It also gets Safe Exit Assist that prevents you from opening the door if the car senses a motorcycle, bicycle or any other vehicle approaching from behind.
Hyundai seems to have done a marvelous job of redesigning the Santa Fe since the new one looks undeniably like an SUV should. The first impression of the car is certainly excellent, but a road test will clear up what the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is all about.