Hyundai’s SUV lineup is the midst of a rebirth and growing in all directions from an award-winning new subcompact to the debut of a larger 3-row later this summer. And in the middle is this next-generation 5-passenger Santa Fe doing what Hyundai does best; giving you more for less.
It starts with the little Kona, moves up to the compact Tucson and arrives at this midsize Santa Fe. You may remember it as the Santa Fe Sport. The bigger 3-row version is now called the Santa Fe XL and then the real big boy, the new Palisade, hits showrooms later on this year.
This all-new Santa Fe showcases Hyundai’s bolder and bigger design language and really reignites the brand’s mojo which has been slipping in recent years. This 2019 model is the most complete, family-oriented SUV in its segment. It’s that good. Now, if you’re on a tight budget there’s the front-drive Santa Fe SE for under $25,000. But 6 trim levels up is this range-topping Ultimate 2.0T AWD for $39,970 before any available incentives. And that includes everything the Santa Fe offers as standard. It’s incredibly well-stocked, drives with a reassuring polish and pays special attention to cabin aesthetics and ergonomics. It recaptures the MO from Hyundai’s maturation process; providing a generous, modern package at a price that undercuts the competition.
At 235 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, the 2.0-liter turbo’s output doesn’t wow on paper but it never feels inadequate, producing strong low-end acceleration, mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission that doesn’t interfere with the fluid driving experience. I also like having this Smart drive mode in addition to the Comfort and Sport settings that automatically selects the proper steering effort, engine and transmission control logic based on the driver’s habits. It works really well and helps save a little gas and that’s a good thing, because at 21mpg the Santa Fe trails the more powerful Ford Edge by 2mpg in mixed driving and 4mpg on the highway.
The interior dimensions of the Santa Fe have grown to give 2nd row passengers more space. And, there’s more cargo room behind these seats. All told it’s a great place to spend time with this beautiful panoramic sunroof, 2 USB ports, slide and recline heated seats, and window sunshades.