I freely admit that I sometimes get vehicle names confused. Covering the automotive industry, that’s not a good thing. I know I’m in the minority with this opinion, but I like the car companies that use numbers and letters as their vehicle names. For me, it’s easy to understand that a Mazda CX-5 is bigger than the CX-3. This week, I’m driving the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, which comes in both five- and seven-passenger capacity to further confuse me. I will have to re-read this review a couple times to make sure I don’t call my tester the Tucson (which is the compact SUV version). They’re all named after Southwestern cities. Are you confused?
Further confounding things is the change for 2019 model year. The previous two-row Santa Fe Sport drops the Sport name, while the third-row Santa Fe gets the name XL. Clear as mud? My tester this week is the five-passenger, two-row Santa Fe. Whew!
Let’s get back on track and talk about this mid-size SUV as it has many nice things worth discussion.
For 2019 the Santa Fe has all-new looks with a more modern appearance. The squinty horizontal LED headlights sit atop the honey comb-like grille. Hood indentations are a bold and attractive aesthetic. The C-pillar is more upright and gives a higher stance to this SUV. As such, the back end has more of a true SUV appearance. The rear spoiler offers a hint of the old Santa Fe “Sport” look.
The Santa Fe, past or present, has not been known as an enthusiast’s vehicle. The performance has always been adequate. There is nothing in this year’s model to changes that opinion either.
The base engine, which is what was in my tester, is a 2.4-liter, 185-horsepower 4-cylinder ho-hum performer. It serves its purpose of getting this vehicle around, but off the line it lacks oomph, although the eight-speed transmission is well done. There’s an optional turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 235 horses; that should be more exciting. Likewise, the newly named XL Santa Fe has a 3.3-liter V6. Both engines seem more inspiring than the base one.
Hyundai has always excelled at making a quality, comfortable interior. With the ’19 Santa Fe, they continue this trend with the use of high-quality materials and a spacious cabin. My tester was the Ultimate trim which had heated front and rear seats and cooled front seats. Legroom was fantastic for three adults. With the new exterior design and the upright C-Pillar, headroom is ample.
There are 35.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row and a combined 71.3 cubic feet with the seats folded. The Hyundai infotainment system is better than most in the segment with an intuitive system on an 8-inch color screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make interaction with smart phones easy.
There are four trims for the five-passenger Santa Fe. The top-of-the-line Ultimate has advanced safety features like collision avoidance, lane assist, smart cruise control and parking assistance. The panoramic sunroof makes the interior feel even more spacious. My Ultimate 2.4 with all-wheel drive had an MSRP of $38,255. The base trim SE with front-wheel drive has a starting price of less than $25,000.
The Santa Fe has a curb weight of just over 4,000 pounds and an EPA rating of 21 mpg/city and 27 mpg/highway. The FWD version gets slightly better fuel economy. In a week’s worth of driving, I averaged almost 24 mpg on snow-covered, slick roads. The Santa Fe handled itself well in these less-than-ideal driving conditions.
Hyundai continues to offer a product line that offers something for everyone. They’ve even split the midsize Santa Fe into two different offerings based upon the number of passengers. With the new style and a well-planned interior for the 2019 Santa Fe, Hyundai shows they’re in tune with the American consumer.